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Momentum candidate targets homes as his big election issue

‘I grew up in council housing. I want other people to have that opportunity,’ says polls hopeful

17 November, 2017 — By Joe Cooper

Santiago Bell-Bradford

A SENIOR Momentum official who worked nights as a builder to support Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaign is standing to be a Mildmay councillor

Santiago Bell-Bradford, 25, group development and volunteer coordinator at Momentum, the organisation set up to support Mr Corbyn, grew up in nearby Canonbury.

The son of a Chilean refugee, he first met Mr Corbyn thanks to his long-standing relationship with the country and his campaigning against its former dictator, Augusto Pinochet.

Mr Bell-Bradford – his first name is Jaime, but he uses his middle name, Santiago, to avoid confusion over the pronunciation – joined the Labour Party at the age of 16.

Later, he was inspired by Mr Corbyn’s 2015 leadership bid. “That summer I saw what was happening but I couldn’t get involved because of work, so I asked to work nights and weekends so I could get involved,” he said.

“I went down to the Momentum office and asked about volunteering. I said I wanted to just take a year and dedicate my life to this.”

He now takes an operational role, doing admin for the 20,000-member organisation and working on internal democracy.

Mr Bell-Bradford has identified a rise in anti-social behaviour as one priority to tackle in Mildmay, where he hopes to replace the exiting Labour councillor, Olly Parker. “We will have to work with the local police officers to try to find long-term solutions,” he added.

“What I’m most passionate about is housing. I grew up in council housing and if it wasn’t for that then I wouldn’t be living in Islington, so I want to help other people have that opportunity.”

He was in the thick of it last year when Mr Corbyn and Momentum came under sustained pressure in the media. Questions were also being asked in Mr Corbyn’s backyard, with three Labour councillors signing a letter calling on him to step down, while others criticised him online.

Mr Bell-Bradford said the local party had had a civil debate before uniting and moving forward in support of their leader.

“The council and the local party behaved in an exemplary way,” he added.

As for Momentum’s position within the Labour movement, Mr Bell-Bradford said: “I think our performance in the general election showed that we were bringing a lot more to the table than people expected. It was an opportunity for us to bring in innovative new techniques in areas like digital campaigning.”

As of July, all Momentum members must be members of the Labour Party. Chairman Jon Lansman has said Momentum intends to officially affiliate with Labour.

Mr Bell-Bradford add­ed: “We are moving closer to the Labour family all the time.”

More women than men expected on Labour benches

ISLINGTON Labour has put forward a majority female slate for the first time ahead of next year’s council elections.

There will be 26 female candidates and 22 men, with more black and minority ethnic (BAME) candidates standing than in the 2014 elections.

It means that, if Labour repeats its blitz at the last elections – when the opposition was reduced to a sole Green councillor – more women will fill the red benches at the Town Hall than men.

Sheila Chapman, standing in Junction ward, is a lawyer and author, who was part of the inaugural Jo Cox Women in Leadership Programme run by the Labour Women’s Network.

She said: “I am proud that we’re the first local Labour Party in London to have selected a majority female team of candidates. It’s crucial that we have women in leadership roles at all levels, particularly as the Tory government’s failed austerity agenda continues to have a catastrophic and disproportionate impact on the lives of women.”

Other women selected include criminal justice campaigner Sara Hyde, standing in Caledonian, environmental scientist Roulin Khondoker (Highbury West) and Kadeema Woodbyrne, who will contest Clerkenwell. She has set up her own organisation devoted to addressing the needs of ambitious, isolated care leavers.

Highbury East councillor Aysegul Ergodan, the borough’s first female Kurdish councillor, is the only sitting member to be deselected ahead of the May 2018 elections.

Town Hall leader Councillor Richard Watts said: “I am delighted that, for the first time, more than half of Islington Labour’s candidates will be female. We have a wealth of talent and experience among our diverse range of candidates.”

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