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8 January 2020

Rosena Allin-Khan gives Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership a six out of 10

Speaking to the New Statesman, the NHS doctor and MP for Tooting said her campaign for deputy leadership was about "unity and healing division".

By George Grylls

Rosena Allin-Khan has set out her stall for deputy leadership today, delivering a message of goodwill at this morning’s PLP hustings. 

“Diane Abbott asked the candidates to say what their single biggest priority is as deputy leader,” the MP for Tooting told the New Statesman. “For me it is unity and healing division.”

But in response to Rebecca Long-Bailey’s 10 out of 10 rating for Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership yesterday, Allin-Khan said that the party can only move forward by learning from its mistakes.

“To suggest there aren’t any shows that perhaps not enough reflection has been done.”

While praising the Corbyn leadership for making the party “unequivocally anti-austerity,” Allin-Khan was not so flattering when it came to giving it a rating.

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“The greatest acid test was the defeat we had last month. For that, I can’t unfortunately rate it any higher than a six.”

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Despite the huge momentum gathering behind the Angela Rayner campaign, Allin-Khan has slowly but surely been collecting endorsements in the 24 hours since she launched, with everyone from Ben Bradshaw, MP for Exeter, to Thangam Debbonaire, MP for Bristol West, pledging their support. The NHS doctor has a compelling backstory as the daughter of a Polish mother and Pakistani father who won a place to study medicine at Cambridge despite initially failing her A-levels.

But her campaign has already run into some trouble after a light-hearted segment about a fanciful “Ministry of Fabulosity” was greeted with a mixed response yesterday.

“The Ministry of Fabulosity was a joke in a 25 minute interview,” Allin-Khan said.  “I think it’s important that politicians are honest and are able to show their serious side because that’s the side that has to instil trust in people. But it’s also important they are able to show their human side.”

“I think people saw the more human side in that interview before they had the chance to see the more serious aspects of it.”

Herself a practising doctor, Allin-Khan has already raised the possibility that as deputy leader she would like to see NHS staff offered discounted membership to the Labour party, and speaking today, she said that in terms of expanding the idea “the public sector would be a good place to start”.

Clearly, Allin-Khan has a gift for reaching people who might not otherwise be interested in politics. During the election, a spoof Love Actually campaign video attracted over 2 million views on Twitter (a suspiciously similar video featuring Boris Johnson appeared soon afterwards).

“I’m not a career politician. I came into politics quite by chance. I understand very acutely what it’s like to feel a disconnect between being a member of community like Tooting and seeing what plays out in Westminster.”

“The Love Actually video was meant to be an interesting, non-finger-pointing way of getting some very serious messages across. It landed well and I would look to do more of the same.”

The big question though is did the the Tory party rip off the video?

“Course they did,” said Allin-Khan. “I did it first. But actually imitation is the highest form of flattery.”