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By-election candidate: ‘Migrants need our help’

Town Hall bid by woman whose family were saved from deportation after MP Corbyn stepped in

22 November, 2019 — By Calum Fraser

Gulcin Ozdemir will be a candidate in the St George’s by-election on December 12 – the same day the nation goes to the polls in the general election

A WOMAN whose family was saved from deportation after Jeremy Corbyn intervened says she will fight to give migrants a voice in local politics if she wins an upcoming by-election for Labour.

Gulcin Ozdemir’s Kurdish parents fled from persecution in Turkey to Islington in the 1990s, but UK immigration officials threatened to send them back to a hostile area.

Mr Corbyn, the Islington North MP, stepped in to battle for their right to stay, Ms Ozdemir said.

Now the Islington born and bred mother-of-one has been selected by the party as the candidate for the by-election in St George’s ward on December 12 – the same day as the general election – triggered by the resignation of Councillor Kat Fletcher.

She told the Tribune: “We need to bridge the gap between migrant communities and what the council can offer. Something as simple as translating the information that is put out can make a big difference.

“We can bring people into the council and improve integration.

“Many people just don’t know what they are allowed to access.”

Labour wants a National Education Service that would give adults six years of free education and a chance to return to further education.

Guilene Marco is standing for the Women’s Equality Party

Ms Ozdemir, who lives in Stroud Green Road, said she supports the policy because she attended City and Islington college as a single mother in her early 20s.

She said: “I couldn’t face going to university and coming back thousands of pounds in debt when I had my girl to take care of.

“I loved City and Islington, they were great to me and I am still close to my teachers.

“I think there were only two of us who didn’t go on to uni from my class.”

Meanwhile, Guilene Marco, who moved to Islington from Paris 10 years ago, is standing as the Women’s Equality Party (WEP) candidate in the by-election.

Ms Marco became a member of the WEP after she campaigned in the Fair Funding for All cross-party group tackling funding cuts to schools.

She received her “settled status” papers earlier this year.

She said: “Having to put together the paperwork to prove I had a right to stay in the UK was weird.

“As if the work I had done in the past 10 years, paying taxes and helping local schools, was not enough.”

The Holloway Prison site lies within St George’s ward and Ms Marco, who lives off Caledonian Road, said one of her main priorities would be to push for a women’s centre and refuge in the redevelopment.

She said: “I think the Women’s Building will be the best way to honour the heritage of the site while looking at the future.

“For me this goes beyond a ward issue, or even an Islington issue. This site is important for our history [as women].”

The Green candidate is Natasha Cox, while Lib Dem Helen Redesdale is on the ballot paper for the Lib Dems. The Tories are not fielding anyone.

‘Greens deserve more eco credit’

Natasha Cox will stand for the Greens in the by-election

THE Green Party has launched its bid to take a Town Hall seat by insisting Labour’s approach to the climate crisis has been “words without actions”, writes Calum Fraser.

Candidate Natasha Cox said a vote for her would bring back “an element of scrutiny” to the council chamber, where every councillor bar two represent Labour.

Voters in St George’s, which runs from along the north-west of the borough covering the Holloway Prison site, will be given a separate ballot paper on December 12 for the ward by-election.

Ms Cox said: “Labour is always trying to say the right things on the environment, but whenever they have been in a position to do something about it they have failed.

“It’s words without actions.

“Take the Silvertown Tunnel as an example. [London Mayor] Sadiq Khan has gone out of his way to push this through and it will be devastating for London’s air.”

Silvertown is a multi-million-pound project that will see a road tunnel dug under the Thames between Greenwich and the Royal Dock which campaigners say will encourage heavy goods vehicles to drive through the city.

Ms Cox added: “I think people are tired of the council’s lack of transparency. It is a one-party state which needs more scrutiny. I think we have a shot.

“Green policies are more popular than ever and it’s time the party that has been advocating this for so long got recognition, instead of allowing Labour and the Tories to greenwash their campaigns.”


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