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Following in Obama’s footsteps

Florence-Nosegbe-USEBarack Obama’s triumph in the Ohio primary, a state that is over 85% white, was the first major victory that set him on a trajectory towards the White House. One activist in Ohio was a south London councillor, Florence Nosegbe

Inspired by Obama, she’s now got her sights on Westminster. Nosegbe, 28, is the frontrunner to become Labour candidate in Lewisham East, a seat held by former minister Bridget Prentice.

The councillor for Brixton Hill told OBV Blog that Ohio showed how a talented black politician could succeed when they are recognised for their talent instead of just their colour.

She said: ‘It shows what can happen when you’re inclusive. It doesn’t matter what background you were from. Everybody had a role to play [in the Ohio campaign]. We need to change how we do things here [in Britain].’

Nosegbe is standing on a programme of grassroots community activism by persuading voters overcoming the negative attitudes towards politicians and get involved in the democratic process.

‘We need a fresh voice that can encourage people to take part, and have a wider conversation about issues like housing and health and education.’

And with Nosegbe it’s not just words. Since getting elected as a Lambeth councillor, she has carved out a reputation as an extremely active street politician, someone who listens to ordinary people’s concerns.

Should she win the internal selection contest, which concludes next week, she could become the second Black woman to become a parliamentary candidate in a month.

Chinyelu

Chinyelu Onwurah

Last week Chinyela Onwurah was selected to fight Newcastle Central, another Labour-held seat. Nosegbe said she was delighted that Onwurah won the nomination in Newcastle.

Currently Labour have 13 ethnic minority MPs, and hope to add Chuka Umunna in Streatham, Rushanara Ali in Bethnal Green and Bow, and Yasmin Qureshi in Bolton South.

Anas Sarwar, the Labour candidate in Glasgow Central, hopes to replace his father, Mohammad Sarwar, who is standing down.

If Labour retain all their remaining Black MPs – Dawn Butler faces a tough fight in Brent Central – they could end up with 17 MPs of colour. That would rise to 18, should Nosegbe get selected and hold Lewisham East.

The Conservatives have two Black MPs and hope to add a further six at the next general election. The Liberal Democrats are lagging behind, with three hopefuls in target seats but all three prospective candidates have some electoral ground to make up before reaching the green benches.

By Lester Holloway

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