THE RACE to be Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Brentford & Isleworth has officially begun with the hopefuls declaring it a must-win seat for the party.
What is expected to be a hard-fought selection process for the right to take on Conservative incumbent MP Mary Macleod began in earnest on Thursday last week.
As expected, Brentford councillor Ruth Cadbury, London Assembly member Murad Qureshi and local party activist Sam White have all thrown their hats into the ring, along with Ealing councillor Chris Summers.
Former Hounslow councillor Nisar Malik is also expected to join the contest.
The deadline for nominations is Monday. A full list of nominations has not yet been announced but we spoke to some of the early runners this week as they drew battle lines.
RUTH CADBURY said the seat is one that Labour has to win if it wants to return to power at the General Election in 2015.
The 54-year-old town planning consultant has lived in Brentford for nearly 30 years and, apart from a short break in the 1990s, has been a councillor since 1986.
"I’m standing as the candidate who’s well known, trusted and respected across the constituency,” she said. "Brentford has always been a swing seat so we clearly need to win it back to get a Labour government. I believe I can do that and make it a safe Labour constituency."
She added that the biggest issues would include affordable housing and Heathrow airport. She said she had helped secure £25 million from the airport for schools under the flightpath, though a better compensation scheme was needed.
A descendant of John Cadbury, who founded the eponymous chocolate business, she is a committed Quaker and chairs the Barrow Cadbury Trust, which campaigns for a living wage.
MURAD QURESHI is a London-wide assembly member but has campaigned on local issues in recent months, including calling for a new pier in Brentford and for Piccadilly line trains to stop at Turnham Green.
Most recently he has campaigned against the planned closure of A&E departments at west London hospitals, which he claimed would increase demand at West Middlesex Hospital’s emergency ward by 78 per cent.
Mr Qureshi worked for more than a decade in housing and regeneration before becoming a Westminster councillor and joining the London Assembly in 2004.
He has proved he is not afraid to challenge the party line, speaking out in 2010 against a third runway at Heathrow when it was still on Labour’s agenda.
CHRIS SUMMERS has been a councillor for Ealing’s Northolt Mandeville ward since 2010.
The BBC man worked as a crime reporter for many years, but now works on documentaries.
The 45-year-old lives in Northolt with his wife and has two grown-up children. He said one of the biggest issues was the need for rent controls, to tackle the soaring housing costs making the capital unaffordable for many families.
He also backed proposals to uproot Heathrow’s existing runways and build four new strips to the west to ensure its long-term future while reducing the noise over London.
As a councillor, he said, his biggest achievements had been helping secure the first new council-built homes in 30 years and a new youth boxing centre.
SAM WHITE lives in Chiswick, where he grew up, with his wife Katie.
The 38-year-old, a keen runner, said he had had a wide range of jobs, from driving a forklift truck to working for former London mayor Ken Livingstone at City Hall.
As adviser to former chancellor Alistair Darling for six years, he said he worked seven days a week during the economic crisis and was proud to have helped fight poverty among children and pensioners, and increase NHS funding.
The NHS is particularly close to his heart, after his life was saved at Charing Cross Hospital ‘with minutes to spare’ with anaphylactic shock as a teenager.
He said he was determined to fight ‘short-sighted’ A&E closures, which he claims would put West Middlesex Hospital under ‘incredible pressure’.
“Protecting jobs and living standards are my priorities, but quality of life issues like Heathrow noise, Mogden sewage works, rubbish on streets, housing, school places and transport all matter too,” he added.