• Wednesday, July 24, 2024

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Lisa Nandy: An unbelievable privilege to head culture ministry

The British Indian MP was appointed secretary of state for culture, media and sport among 11 women picked for top jobs by Starmer

FILE PHOTO: Lisa Nandy speaks during an In Conversation fringe event on day two of the Labour Party conference on October 09, 2023 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

By: Pramod Thomas

LISA NANDY, the British Indian MP re-elected from Wigan in north-west England, will assume her position at prime minister Keir Starmer’s cabinet table on Saturday (6) as his new culture secretary alongside a record number of fellow women ministers.

The 44-year-old MP was appointed secretary of state for culture, media and sport among 11 women picked for top jobs by Starmer as he got straight to work after a landslide Labour general election win on Friday (5).

Rachel Reeves became the first woman to occupy the high office of chancellor of the exchequer and Angela Rayner only the second female deputy prime minister in Britain’s history.

Nandy, 44, took to social media to say it was an “unbelievable privilege” to be heading the department for culture, media and sport.

“From rugby league to Royal Opera, our cultural and sporting heritage runs through our towns, villages and cities and is one of our country’s greatest assets… The hard work begins today,” she said.

Nandy, who was among the final three contestants in the Labour party’s leadership contest against her boss in January 2020, has been serving in his shadow cabinet ever since. She will now take over the culture ministry brief from Lucy Fraser, who was among the Tory ministers to lose their seats in a devastating election for the Rishi Sunak-led Tories.

“I want to say to those people who’ve brought their nasty, hateful, racist politics to our town, the history of Wigan is of working-class people who for 100 years have driven you and your hate out of our town over and over again,” Nandy raged in her acceptance speech on defeating a far-right Reform UK candidate in her Greater Manchester constituency on Friday.

“So take this result tonight as your marching orders. We are a better town than you. You are not welcome here. You can take your nasty divisive rhetoric elsewhere because we’ve got a job to do,” she said.

The Manchester-born daughter of Kolkata-born academic Dipak Nandy and English mother Luise Byers has spoken of her Indian heritage during Labour party conferences in the past. Her father was well-known for his work in the field of race relations in Britain.

“Friends, we meet today in a city which looks out onto the ocean, from an island shaped by waves of immigration. They include the many children of the Empire, like my dad, who came here from India in the 50s and through the struggle to create the Race Relations Act helped forge our national story,” she told the party conference in Brighton a few years ago.

“This is the country we can be. One that lifts our eyes beyond the horizon, to see that together – only together – will we change the lives of people here and across the world.”

Reflecting upon the Indian Independence movement led by Mahatma Gandhi, she recalled how a century ago “the seams of my family were threaded together when the Indian independence campaign, supported by my grandparents, had devastating consequences for Lancashire textile workers. When the cotton stopped coming, the mills stopped running and the workers went hungry.”

“But members of my family, who worked in those mills, were among those who welcomed Gandhi to Lancashire. Because they knew, as I know, as the first mixed race woman to ever hold this office, that solidarity has power and our struggle is one and the same,” she said, with reference to Gandhi’s famous visit to Lancashire in 1931 when he met mill workers facing hardship.

(PTI)

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