A Manchester councillor revealed her pride at being a working class, single mum representing her community, as she stood on stage alongside the potential Prime Minister Ed Miliband at his defiant speech in Salford yesterday.
Amina Lone addressed a packed out Lowry Theatre, before handing the stage over to the leader of the Labour party, as he told Manchester activists how he planned to earn the nations vote in this year’s general election.
Speaking to MM, Miss Lone, who splits her time between representing Hulme as councillor and campaigning as a Labour parliamentary candidate for Morecambe and Lunesdale, said that although she had met Mr Miliband before, she felt humbled by the occasion.
She said: “I felt nervous. You feel a huge sense of responsibility. Even though I’m a parliamentary candidate, I left school at 16, I’m a single mum and on paper I’m not what people would generally assume would be your everyday candidate to be an MP.
“So, in that sense it feels a bit surreal. I have come from a working class family. My parents are still very poor, from an inner-city environment, and you are on this platform with the possible next Prime Minister of the UK.
“It is not a world that I am familiar with, but it is a great privilege as well.”
As well as vowing to rebuild the economy and protect the future of the NHS, Mr Miliband used his Salford speech to promise voters his party would champion the working man, and offer Britain ‘hope, not falsehoods’.
A significant funding boost to the health service will be achieved not by borrowing, but with the introduction of a new tax initiative.
“And that’s why we have proposed a Mansion Tax for the very richest to protect and improve the NHS for our entire country. Something the Tories would never do. Because we believe that those with the broadest shoulders should bear the greatest burden,” he said.
Miss Lone said the party would be doing everything possible to ensure their ambitious proposals would succeed.
She told MM: “We are committed to it. It is our priority, and it has to be because we have got to rebuild trust in all sorts of areas, and austerity has been horrific for lots of people.
“It is still really challenging for lots of people on the ground. Lots of people that I know are working really hard and are still not feeling any sense of recovery.
“So we have got to make sure it works across the board. And the NHS is a massive sector that needs protecting, but also needs to be done so in a way that works.”
The councillor also backed Mr Miliband’s pledge to make apprenticeships a more accessible and attractive option for young people looking to start work.
She said: “We should fully support anyone wanting to study for a degree. But not all young people want to go to university. Not every young person wants to go into higher education.
“And certainly with my own experience of work I have done in communities, there is a feeling that people want other opportunities. Whether that is skill based, going into the charity sector or something else.
“We need to have a menu of options, and it feels like we have created an environment where we have not had the investment we should have around apprenticeships schemes.”
In his closing statement, Mr Miliband said the decisive factor in the election outcome would be voters deciding ‘how we want to live together, and how we succeed as a nation’.
As a Manchester councillor, Miss Lone told MM that Labour supports devolution, a topic that is becoming increasingly present in the city’s politics.
She said: “The Labour party are absolutely committed to further devolution and supporting combined authorities across the country.
“In Greater Manchester, it is the Labour politicians that have really led that charge – Sir Richard Leese and other local people.
“I think we are ready. We need to make sure we support devolution. Local politicians need to be able to make local decisions that benefit local people.
“This government has given increased risk for local authorities, but has not given them extra responsibility to go along with the risk. They have proven that they are competent and that they can cope in difficult times. Well let’s give them the reins that they need.”
Image courtesy of Amina Lone, with thanks.