“Trust, that’s the key word isn’t it?”, says Brent Central candidate Ibrahim Taguri
- Credit: Archant
Yesterday, Ibrahim Taguri, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Brent Central quit the party following claims ‘he sought to bypass party funding donation laws’. He has vowed to stand as independent. In his last ever interview as a Lib Dem candidate, Mr Taguri tells the Times that ‘trust’ is the key word and there were things that his former party did that he disagreed with.
Ibrahim Taguri’s most formative memory was looking after his brother and sisters while his parents struggled to form a new life out of grinding poverty.
It could be a synonym of where this Liberal Democrat stands politically, wanting the best for the borough he was raised and lives in, while his party languishes in the polls, on the burning embers of a broken promise.
“Trust,” he says. “That’s the key word isn’t it?”
Mr Taguri has an uphill climb to convince an electorate who have come of age, that he can be trusted to look after their interests when no-one has forgotten, or will let forget, the promises made on university tuition fees.
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“I think the party was wrong for offering something it couldn’t deliver. Given the electoral landscape, the only way we could deliver no tuition fees was if we’d had a majority. The party’s learnt a real lesson from that and its part of that maturity, that growth in the party from being a third party protest option to now being a serious party in government.”
His parents left Libya in the early 1970’s. His father, conscripted to the Libyan National Army, absconded. His mother, a lawyer, had to sacrifice her career.
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He says the main reason he joined the Liberal democrats was on their foreign policy. A member of the Stop the War coalition, he walked through Sarah Teather’s office in 2003 and asked if they needed any help.
“It’s funny that I should come full circle, that Sarah brought me in to the Libdems and I will now hopefully succeed her as the mp.”
He says of his mentor: “Sarah’s laid the foundations here in Brent, things that I can do. Her daily surgeries were really good. It’s also really rare.”
It is the financial poverty of his early years propels his desire to stand as an MP.
His parents arrived in Willesden penniless and were housed by the council before having their four children, of whom 36 year-old Mr Taguri is the eldest.
While his parents worked “all hours” to set up a cleaning business, he looked after his two sisters and brother.
“My parents struggled to make ends meet; there wasn’t enough food to go around. I was the eldest child, the one who spoke English and I took on most of the family’s paper work. My mum would sit telling me what to say in Arabic and I’d type it into English.”
After attending Hallfield School in Westminster, he won an assisted place at Latymer School in Hammersmith, receiving a state funded scholarship which he says “changed my life”. From there he went on to read English Literature and Language at Reading University and where he also met his wife, Sarah.
“Compared to the people I did go to primary school with who have grown up now, they’ve gone down the wrong track, are struggling or dead. I was given aspiration, a good varied education. My education was a route out, showed me where I could get to. That’s why I’m so passionate about child poverty and campaigning on it.”
He adds: “It’s strange but there are many All Party Parliamentary Groups - there’s one on American football, jazz appreciation, there’s one on the carpet industry, there isn’t one on child poverty. So that’s one of my first pledges, to set up the APPG on child poverty because it’s an issue that touches on everything in our lives. It’s not just about the child; it’s about the family and the community around them.”
He feels so passionately about it he will not take his pay rise as an MP. “I’m forfeiting that to put it into a children’s charity that will focus giving disadvantaged kids educational opportunities.”
He also wants to create a Community Cabinet. It will work by bringing together 25 to 30 local representatives - faith leaders, Town Team leaders, professionals, who will meet with them every three months to talk about issues that are affecting them and their communities.
“We’ve still got tough times ahead of us in Brent. The public has been asked to make serious sacrifices. A Community Cabinet would act as a united voice. It would also act to hold me to account, as their MP.”
Why should people believe him?
“I have been very honest with people. There are things that my party have done that I’m really proud of that and things that I disagree with.”
In January Mr Taguri was given a national role as his party’s race equality champion, engaging with communities across the country to promote cohesion, social justice, and equality of opportunity. Three issues that are important to him, he says.
However, he also says he won’t be told what to think.
“My loyalty is not first and foremost to my party, it’s actually about representing the constituents I stand for.”
The electoral fight in May isn’t between the Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party he says, it’s between him and Dawn Butler.
“It’s going to be 50/50 I think. It’s going to be really hard, but it’s going to be very close,” he says.
“The only thing I want to do is bring change, support things that I am passionate about. Make sure that people don’t experience the same things I did growing up so that when I do step down I step down having made a positive difference.”
Born: September 20 1978
Education: Latymer School, Hammersmith
Career: After graduating worked as a fundraiser for several charities
Family: Wife and a cat