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View from business: New mayoral candidate offers hope

PUBLISHED: 08:00 15 April 2018

CARMEN VALINO ALL RIGHTS - on shift

It was disappointing to read a few weeks ago that Sir Robin Wales had been deselected by the Labour Party to stand as mayor for Newham.

Robin has given much of his life to supporting the people of Newham and from an outsider’s view seems to have been pretty effective.

What I like about Sir Robin is that he will work for anyone in the borough. It doesn’t matter what their politics or beliefs. I first came across him when I was fighting a battle of survival for my business during the Olympic compulsory purchases, together with 350 other business all suffering the same fate. I wrote to Ken Livingstone, who was London mayor at the time, Sebastian Coe, Tessa Jowell, all the mainstream political parties based at the Greater London Authority yet not one would meet. We had been tainted with being described as ‘anti-Olympics’, which was not necessarily the case, and no one was prepared to stick their neck out to assist.

Yet for Sir Robin, he put the politics behind him, and had a series of meeting to understand our concerns and see what he could do to help. In reality, there is not much he could have done as the Olympic Act basically overrules any other piece of legislation in the name of the Olympic Games. But at least there was someone in authority that was prepared to hear our concerns and offer guidance. I shall not forget that. This is leadership.

Being replaced by someone from Corbyn’s hard-left Labour is always going to be of concern to any business, as the Left and business have never been comfortable bedfellows. However, as a Jewish person this is also a huge concern, especially in light of the rise of antisemitism filtering through Labour and now acknowledged by Corbyn and Momentum. So seeing that the new mayoral candidate was Rokhsana Fiaz was a pleasant surprise on this issue.

Rokhsana has led an organisation called the Maimonides Foundation which brings together people from the three Abrahamic faiths, Judaism, Islam and Christianity. In a world which seems increasingly divided this is really important work and I commend her for it too. Like Sir Robin it shows that she will reach out to those who don’t necessarily share her own beliefs or ideology. This is one small positive in a party I fear would be a disaster for business and therefore jobs in the UK.

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