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A Magazine for Sheffield

Here are the Sheffield Central Labour candidates in their own words

A shortlist of four has been drawn up for the next Labour candidate for Sheffield Central. Now Then finds out what they really stand for.

Sheffield city centre from above South Street amphitheatre

Sheffield city centre from above South Street amphitheatre

Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield is standing down at the next election. His is a coveted seat amongst Labour Party activists thanks to its 27,000 majority in 2019. Campaigner and journalist Paul Mason and Mike Buckley, campaign co-ordinator for the Sheffield Central Constituency Labour Party, made it onto the longlist but are now out of the running, leaving a shortlist of four: local councillors Abtisam Mohamed and Jayne Dunn, performer Eddie Izzard, and dentist and NHS worker Rizwana Lala.

This is an encouragingly diverse group of candidates, with no men on the ticket, and each contender has exciting ideas and experiences.

Given the popularity of Labour in the Sheffield Central constituency, it’s likely that whoever is selected to be the Labour candidate will become an MP at the next election, whenever that may be. So Now Then asked all four candidates some key questions to help you to understand who they are and what they stand for.

Jayne, Abtisam and Rizwana’s responses are below. Eddie Izzard was also approached but did not respond.

A woman standing in front of a view of Sheffield

Abtisam Mohamed is hoping to be Sheffield Central's next Labour MP

What are your priorities for Sheffield Central?

Abtisam Mohamed: I will fight for proper investment in education, including early years and adult learning. Going back into education as an adult opened so many doors for me. I want to ensure everyone, at all stages of life, has the opportunity to learn. We must tackle climate change with more urgency and ensure our move to net zero is done fairly. For those like my dad, a steelworker, we need a just transition with greater investment in research and training to help us shift from fossil fuels.

Jayne Dunn: Empower communities: Giving communities the money they need to transform Sheffield from the bottom up using the co-operative model so local people have a stake. Green opportunities: Tackling global warming and the poverty it causes. I will fight to make Sheffield the home of green energy. Fix housing: Too many people in Sheffield are living in temporary accommodation, cramped or unsuitable homes.

Rizwana Lala: My priorities outlined in my manifesto are fighting for just solutions that tackle the climate and cost-of-living crises; inclusive, properly funded community-rooted healthcare; lifelong education equity; and re-building Sheffield’s digital, arts and culture sectors, including widening arts participation and access to underrepresented children and communities.

A photograph of a woman in front of a bookcase

Rizwana Lala has been shortlisted for the Sheffield Central Labour seat

Christopher Haworth

How would you address the cost of living crisis?

Rizwana Lala: As an active trade unionist, I will work with our Labour movement activists and unions to back workers’ demands for fair pay, strengthen renters’ rights, support a fair welfare system and put renewable energy, home insulation, council home building, expansion of publicly- owned, affordable decarbonised public transport at the heart of revitalising our local economy.

Abtisam Mohamed: Put simply, people need more money in their pockets. As the MP for Sheffield Central, I will work with unions and employers for better paid jobs. In Parliament I’ll campaign for more financial help for the most vulnerable and for more investment in our public and voluntary sectors. But people need help now, so if I’m selected I will make an immediate start by working on the ground with food banks and charities to make sure they have the funding and resources they need.

Jayne Dunn: Nationally: Scrapping VAT on energy bills. Extending the windfall tax to when unexpected profits initially began. Target support to those who need it most. Matching benefits, pensions and student maintenance with inflation. Locally: Empowering community groups to provide support for local people.

What are the challenges you think Sheffield is currently facing?

Jayne Dunn: Soaring food and energy prices. Lack of affordable and social housing. Decimated public services as a result of years of Tory cuts. The climate crisis. Underfunded infrastructure. This Conservative government.

Rizwana Lala: Austerity and the pandemic disproportionately impacted children and communities in Sheffield, widening existing inequalities. If you are a refugee, living with a disability, ethnic minority or working-class, things have got much worse. The healthy life gap between the rich and the poor in Sheffield is nearly 20 years. But we only get rhetoric and little funding to 'level up'.

Abtisam Mohamed: After 12 years of the Tories, our public services are broken. Sheffield’s council, schools and healthcare get a raw deal compared to richer areas. As MP for Sheffield Central I will fight to make sure we get our fair share of investment. But for Sheffield and the entire planet, there’s no bigger issue than the climate crisis. I want to work with a Labour Government to ensure every decision and each pound of investment in Sheffield is in line with meeting our climate goals.

A close-up photo of a woman with brown hair

Jayne Dunn is in the running to be Sheffield Central's next Labour MP

What makes you the best person for this position?

Abtisam Mohamed: Sheffield is my home. I went to school and university here. I’m a community activist with 20 years of campaign experience here. I set up my asylum and human rights law firm here and I’m a councillor here. Everything I’ve done has been to help people who are without power and opportunity. It means I understand the challenges people face, because for 20 years I’ve been on the ground working to fix them.

Jayne Dunn: Sheffield Central needs an MP who can hit the ground running. I have lived and worked in Sheffield for decades. I was born here, raised my family here and run a small business here. I know what Sheffield Central needs and, more importantly, I have the experience to know how to deliver it. Experience matters, because a Labour government will have to pick up the pieces of 12 years of austerity.

Rizwana Lala: Sheffield Central is my home, my community. As regional Public Health Lead on Climate in the NHS and Clinical Lead on the national Covid-19 response, I have a track record of leading. But I want to build power in our communities. I will contribute a minimum of 10% of my MP salary to building local justice campaigns. I will be bold in our demands for equality and fairness. We deserve nothing less.

If you were elected tomorrow, what would your first act as MP be?

Rizwana Lala: I will continue to be out in our communities, being part of our collective struggles. My job will be to use the platform communities place in my trust to fight for change on the ground and in Parliament. I will create spaces to listen, identify the strength and determination in our communities, so we collectively build a better more inclusive world where every single person prospers.

Abtisam Mohamed: I will always put Sheffield Central first and I will take up your issues and concerns in the corridors of power. That means getting the foundations in Sheffield right. So on day one, I would work to open up my constituency office and hire a team of staff to work with me. I will ensure I am active, responsive and accessible so that I can represent you and raise your voice in Parliament.

Jayne Dunn: Ensuring Sheffield is at the front of the queue for the funding and opportunities that Keir Starmer's Green Prosperity Plan will bring to the country. I'd also meet with my team and set out to them my plan for Sheffield Central both in the constituency and in Westminster. Every MP needs a solid team around them.

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