“If you don’t let us dream, we won’t let you sleep,” Nadia told parliament in her maiden speech in the House of Commons on the 21st of January. Aged just 23, Nadia is currently the youngest member of parliament but is already looking like a force to be reckoned with in the chamber.
The new Labour MP won her seat with a majority of 17,393 succeeding former ‘Baby of the House’ Chris Leslie in the constituency of Nottingham East.
A Nottingham girl through and through, Nadia spent her childhood in a number of neighbourhoods around the city including the Meadows, Top Valley and West Bridgford. Nadia attended West Bridgford School as a girl while also spending two years in the private education system. Speaking to JOEPolitics, Nadia noted that is was this time in private education that taught her “why private schools shouldn’t exist,” and “why a two-tier system is entrenching class segregation.”
In 2013 Nadia witnessed the effects of the bedroom tax and austerity policies on her friends and local community. Nadia has said that, amongst other things, it was these experiences that inspired her to get involved in Politics.
After schooling Nadia attended an access course at Nottingham College before going on to study Law at the University of Nottingham. Around this time, while busy with her studies at university, Nadia contested the 2017 Nottinghamshire County Council Election as the labour candidate for West Bridgford West and came second behind the Conservative candidate.
As a working-class woman of colour, I’m made to feel like I don’t below here unless I throw my community under a bus.”
Nadia later dropped out of university due to financial reasons and began work as a hate crime project worker and care worker. Alongside work, before Nadia got elected, she also led the campaign that won the living wage for university cleaners in Nottingham.
Now Nadia is a member of parliament, she has switched her energies to the new challenges presented by such a responsibility. Already, Nadia has been an outspoken critic of many aspects of the House of Commons and the UK’s political culture.
In her maiden speech, Nadia remarked, “Historically, so much happens in this building that is designed to exclude and alienate working class people: the old conventions, the antiquated language. As a working-class woman of colour, I’m made to feel like I don’t below here unless I throw my community under a bus.” In an interview with the Guardian Nadia said she doesn’t “want to start to feel comfortable” in parliament. She added, “I’m not here to become a part of the fabric of Westminster; I’m here to change it.”
“When Care workers, retail workers and NHS staff get their pay rise, I’ll take mine.”
In Nadia’s campaign video for the 2019 general election, Naida spoke out against the lack of representation in parliament when she said, “My politics is shaped by raw life experience. Experience that is missing in parliament.”
It is clear that despite her new job that means she must now spend time in London, Nadia does not want to stray to far from her roots. Upon election Nadia made a statement that she was to take only £35,000 of her full £79,469 MP salary, with the rest of it going to local causes. She told the Commons in her maiden speech that the move was “so I never forget where I’m from or who’s interests I represent,” adding, “when Care workers, retail workers and NHS staff get their pay rise, I’ll take mine.”
Nadia Whittome is an exciting new face in the House of Commons and seems eager to make some really positive changes. We at IMPACT look forward to seeing her jostling with her political contemporaries in Westminster for many years to come.
Featured image courtsey of Nadia Whittome MP via Facebook.
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