Make Me Prime Minister - interview with Darius

Category: Press Pack Article


Age: 23              

Location: London         

Occupation: Entrepreneur & Charity Fundraiser

Political leanings – “I stood in the last council elections for Hounslow Council as a Conservative candidate.”

Big Idea – To provide more government funding to help young people set up their own businesses.

How would you describe yourself in three words?

Hard-working, committed and ambitious.

Why are you interested in politics?

I think it stems from how my family came to the UK. I’m 23 years old, I finished university last year, I graduated with a degree in politics and philosophy from King’s College. My family came to the UK in the back of a lorry when I was six-months-old, escaping the Taliban in Afghanistan. It was a very dangerous journey; it took us nine months to get to the UK. Eventually we arrived in Belgium, where we were put inside a lorry, and then we arrived in the UK nine hours later. We survived because we were in the lorry for nine hours. Exactly a year after we came, there was a story on the news where 56 Chinese migrants died making the same journey we took, and the reason they died was because they were inside for 36 hours. We were sent to the Refugee Council, which was in Brixton, at the time, and from there, we were given a house in Lewisham, and that’s where I started my life here. I think the reason I’m interested in politics is because my whole family has been fleeing persecution from the Taliban, we have lived experience of the difficulties immigrant communities like ours face, like lack of political representation, exclusion and isolation. After we arrived in the UK, my father founded a charity called The Afghanistan and Central Asian Association, to support the integration of other communities arriving in a similar position to the one we were in. We help them to integrate into the community, we’ve launched a Saturday school, free legal advice, women’s groups, employment support, mentoring and cultural events. As a second generation member of the Afghan-British community, I think our community still lacks political representation compared to other ethnic minorities in the UK.

How would you describe your political leanings? Do you identify with a particular party?

I stood in the last council elections for Hounslow Council as a Conservative candidate. That was my first experience running in an election. I increased the vote of the Conservatives by a huge number, I got 1372 votes, at a time when everyone on the doorstep was saying the Conservatives, and especially the leadership was no good, Boris Johnson’s not a nice person, what’s happening with Rwanda, sending refugees there, the media was bombarding the Conservatives. So I have some personal experience of campaigning, and I want to continue this, to get more involved in politics, to represent a community that needs a voice, but also to represent British interests internationally as well, in countries like Afghanistan and Central Asia.

You work a lot with the immigrant community. Some would say they would have expected you to have ended up in the Labour Party, which is traditionally seen as more pro-immigration. What’s taken you on your journey towards the Conservative Party?

I don’t believe in the stereotype that the Labour Party is the best party for people like us. I think the Conservative Party embodies people with strong business acumen, with innovation and creativity, and that’s one of the reasons I joined. I think the Labour Party can often make people quite lazy. Also, I have some positive experiences of Conservative politicians. When I was 18, I sent an email to a lot of Conservative and Labour MPs, saying I wanted to become Mayor of London. I heard back from a lot of Conservative MPs, who invited me to parliament. I met Colonel Bob Stewart, I met Michael Fallon, and William Hague. All the Labour MPs said was “You’re too young to get involved in politics.” It wasn’t very encouraging.

And do you still want to be Mayor of London?


Who is your political hero?

Winston Churchill. He was a great leader, an expert crisis handler, and he’s an inspirational figure for me. He’s widely loved by the British people for leading the country through a very difficult time, and for shaping the future.

And your political villain?

Putin. His actions in the Ukraine are just an example of his authoritarian leadership. He feels that he can get away with it, he thinks that he can revive the former USSR. But countries want to be free, independent and democratic. He’s curtailing rights and freedoms, behaving in the 21st Century like it’s the 19th Century.

What would your strengths be in the role of Prime Minister? 

I think I have very good communication skills. I also write a lot of proposals and fundraising material, so I have the ability to write convincing and appealing and persuasive proposals. I think if you can do that, it’s very helpful in creating strategies as a government. Whether that’s about education or health, whether it’s about climate change, and creating a greener future, and having more inclusive capitalism, using the entrepreneurial spirit of the British people. I think the biggest issue today for the UK is how can we drive economic growth, but at the same time, we have to be sustainable for the environment and our communities. So we need to create a low carbon economy, making sure we reduce greenhouse emissions. I think my grassroots experience really helps me to understand these issues and motivates me to do something good. And I’m well-informed about the challenges that the most marginalised communities in our society face. I think I’m good at teamworking, I’ve got good social skills, good organisational skills, and I think I have good leadership skills as well.

What about your weaknesses?

That’s a difficult question – that’s always the one you get asked at job interviews. I guess my biggest weakness is that sometimes when I think about finding a solution to a problem, it can take up a lot of my time, I have to solve the problem before I can move to another task. It’s a strength as well as a weakness. It’s a strength because it shows commitment, but at the same time, you need to move on to the next challenge, and the one after that. So I suppose my weakness would be time management and using time effectively.

If you were PM what is the first law you would pass?

I think the most important policy for me would be how we can tackle crime in society. I think crime is a huge challenge facing different communities across the country. For example, one of the proposals I have in mind is creating more youth centres across the country. They’ve been shut down because of a lack of government funding. I think youth centres improve the sense of community, and the young people would manage the youth centres, and have control of what they wanted to introduce, whether it’s cultural activities, music, educational activities. We could have a youth governing committee in each centre, and it would make recommendations about what the youth centre should be doing. At the same time, it would help inform us about the challenges young people are facing in society. And it would give people the chance to develop leadership skills. The youth centres would focus on therapeutic activities, yoga, mindfulness, relaxation, as well as personal development, building their confidence, helping them find jobs, CV development, work experience, mentoring, volunteering opportunities, internships, and helping them into further education and employment. It would reduce exclusion and isolation, reduce crime and antisocial behaviour. I’d also have mental health counselling services, education about the importance of fresh, healthy food.

According to Theresa May, the naughtiest thing she ever did was run through a field of wheat. What is the naughtiest thing you have ever done? 

I think the naughtiest thing I’ve ever done is probably at an event happening at our community centre. I took the microphone and started giving a speech about the work of the organisation and why it’s important to come to these kinds of events, when everyone was just trying to have lunch, and nobody was expecting a speech.

What specific aspects of the show are you looking forward to, and what are you nervous about?

I’m looking forward to a lot of the debates, and to working as a team as well, coming up with ideas and solutions as a team. I’m nervous about losing.

How do you feel about working with Sayeeda Warsi and Alastair Campbell?

I think that’s wonderful. I was very happy to see they were involved with this. They’re huge political figures. Alastair Campbell was a major figure in Tony Blair’s administration, and Baroness Warsi was a Foreign Office minister with responsibility for Afghanistan. It’s a good mix, obviously from different political parties.

As you are about to embark on this experience, how are you feeling?

I feel full of energy, full of excitement, happy that I’m here, and very motivated to win.