By Ryan Prosser, BA Chinese (Modern and Classical)
Three SOAS alumni are battling for seats in the General Election on 12 December. The newest candidate is Bella Sankey, standing for the Labour Party in the Arundel and South Downs constituency. Bella Sankey hopes to become the first ever Labour representative for the constituency in West Sussex, which has returned a Conservative MP since its inception in 1997. Sankey is currently the Director of the advocacy group Detention Action (DA). DA is a humanitarian group that focuses on immigration detention in the UK.
A supporter of Labour’s anti-austerity agenda, Sankey will use her experience as a campaigner and trained barrister to stand for Arundel. Speaking to The Argus she said, ‘Government policies have left health, education, and social care services in Sussex ravaged with many people feeling vulnerable and isolated.’ The Law graduate added, ‘Throughout my life I have worked to assist others, including the most vulnerable in society.’
If a Labour government holds a referendum on a Brexit deal, Sankey, Lammy, and West will campaign to stay in the EU.
With tactical voting expected to be a gamechanger in this election, Sankey is keen to present herself as Arundel’s only alternative to her Tory rival, Andrew Griffiths.
Sankey completed a postgraduate degree at SOAS after studying Law at Cambridge University. She joins ex-SOAS election candidates David Lammy and Catherine West, who are both seeking re-election in North London. Both Lammy and West exceeded 40,000 votes in 2017, with Lammy taking a massive 81.6% share in his constituency in Tottenham. Lammy has represented the area since 2000, and he takes pride in his local roots, campaigning under the slogan ‘From Tottenham, For Tottenham.’
Meanwhile, West hopes to hold her seat in Hornsey and Wood Green, where she was first elected in 2015. West, who holds an MA in Chinese Studies at SOAS, was also a Shadow Minister for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs between 2015 and 2017. All three candidates have campaigned on various issues. On Brexit, they have all signed the Labour Remain Pledge along with 158 other Labour candidates. If a Labour government holds a referendum on a Brexit deal, Sankey, Lammy, and West will campaign to stay in the EU.
But it’s not just about Brexit. The NHS, law and order, climate change, and employment are all on the agenda. This election promises to be a clash on many fronts, both nationally and regionally. Meanwhile at SOAS, Sir Keir Starmer is standing for reelection in Holborn and St Pancras, defending a majority of 51.9% in 2017. Britain will head to the polls on 12 December after Members of Parliament voted for a snap election in October. This follows the delay of the UK’s departure from the EU to 31 January 2020.