Occupation: Ex-footballer & Sports Agent
Political leanings – “I identify with Labour. Recently, I haven’t been completely happy with the party and where it’s going, but if I was to vote tomorrow I would still vote Labour.”
Big Idea – To dismantle institutional racism in the UK – ‘Diversity over Division.’ She feels Britain is at its best when unified and would implement her policy through Employment, Education, Reconciliation and Health.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Passionate, enthusiastic and a go-getter.
Why are you interested in politics?
In my gap year, before going to university, I did an extra A level in government and politics. I really enjoyed it. I’ve always had that love for debating, and just general interest in what’s going on in this country and globally. I’m interested to find out what a day in the life of a politician would be like, and whether I’d be able to do that. I think it must be an incredible job to represent and serve your constituency. There are many social issues that I’m very passionate about, that I’d love to be able to do more about. I think, through politics, you can help make change.
How would you describe your political leanings? Do you identify with a particular party?
I identify with Labour. Recently, I haven’t been completely happy with the party and where it’s going, but if I was to vote tomorrow I would still vote Labour.
Who is your political hero?
I’m a very big fan of Dawn Butler, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Diane Abbott.
What about your political villain?
At the moment, it just has to be Boris Johnson. If he’d been in any other job and had been caught lying or not doing a decent job, he wouldn’t have still had that job. To be in the top position in the country, you need to have some integrity, some morals and values, and as an individual, he should have stepped down a long time before he did. He’s made a mockery of politics.
You’ve played professional football full-time, and captained Leicester City. Are any of the skills you learned in that role transferrable to the world of politics?
I think so, because in football, you’re dealing with so many stakeholder relationships, and have to communicate with so many people. Politics is in everything, it’s in every environment, so you have to deal with all sorts of people in all sorts of environments. I think I’ve had a lot of experience communicating with people in an array of different positions. And also, it’s quite like being captain. You’re listening to a group of people that you’re representing, and you’re trying to protect those people and be a voice for them. I think it’s important to have an open and honest dialogue between myself and those who I’m representing. And the one thing I’ve really learned, whoever I’m communicating with, is that honesty is always the best policy. Someone might not like the answer, but they’ll respect you for being straight with them.
What would your strengths be in the role of Prime Minister?
I think communicating. I’m quite a strong communicator. I think I can understand my audience, and what they require from me. And I think I’m led by my morals and values as well. That’s not always the case in politics, but I think people are looking for someone who they can trust, who is honest and open. I think we’ve lost that layer of trust. Seeing people lying and just accepting it has become normalised, unfortunately.
What about your weaknesses?
If someone doesn’t like what I’m doing, I really take that quite deeply. I need to understand that I can’t please everyone, not everyone is going to agree with me or be in my corner, and I can’t get affected by someone being against me. I tend to become insular and go in on myself. Sometimes I look at things quite black and white, but I need to be better at understanding grey areas too.
If you were PM what is the first law you would pass?
There’s so much going on at the moment, but what’s going on with immigration, and sending people to Rwanda, I would look at changing that and finding an alternative, because I don’t understand how that is the best policy.
What do you see as the other key issues you would need to tackle as incoming PM?
The NHS. I just read on Twitter about a doctor who had worked to 12.5hr shifts and came back to his car to see two £100 parking fines. So I’d look at NHS workers having free or subsidised parking. It sounds small, but I can’t understand it. Another thing is I think the education system needs reforming, in terms of the curriculum. One of the things I’m concerned about is childhood obesity, and I think PE has a role to play. PE isn’t taken seriously, it’s not one of the core subjects, so I’d look at that. And I’d look at reducing child obesity and put measures in place to support parents and children. I’d have a guidance councillor or psychologist in every school every day. Also, I’d look at history, and what children and young adults are getting taught about history. That needs to be widened, because I think cultural aspects of history are not always considered in a way that is respectful to all cultures and religions.
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’m quite boring, I don’t think I’m a very naughty person. I can be mischievous.
Were you badly behaved on the pitch? Did you ever get any red cards?
No, I never got any red cards. I got a few yellows, but I was always looking for the ball, I was never a player that wanted to go out and hurt somebody. I would always get stuck in, if I needed to make a challenge, I would make a challenge. But I don’t think I’ve ever done anything really naughty – that’s how boring I am.
What specific aspects of the show are you looking forward to, and what are you nervous about?
I think I’m looking forward to the different challenges that we’re going to be set. I’m excited to see how I get on, whether I can do it, or find it really difficult. I’m scared about not being able to do it – anything I do, I like to be able to do to a really good standard. So if I’m asked to do something, and I really struggle, I think I’d feel very uncomfortable. But I guess that’s part of the show, challenges that you have to get on with. But I’m definitely nervous about that as well.
If the chance arose in real life, would you stand for parliament?
Yeah. For years, as a family, we’ve always wondered about becoming an MP. It’s always been in the back of my mind, but I’ve always been doing something. It would definitely be something I would consider, for sure. But who knows, maybe after this show, I’ll think “Oh gosh, no, I can’t do it!”
You’re a qualified solicitor, is that right?
Yeah, I qualified just before I signed my first full-time professional contract in football, so I didn’t practice, as I was concentrating on football. I have done it, and I might go back to it later on in life.
Presumably a lot of the skills there are interchangeable with politics?
Yes. I think in terms of the communication and being able to articulate yourself.
How do you find public speaking?
I think it’s okay. The start of it is always quite shaky, but then once you get started, you just get into it. I’m happy to do it, but it’s still quite nerve-wracking.
How do you feel about working with Sayeeda Warsi and Alastair Campbell?
I’m really excited to learn from them, to ask them questions and get a real insight into what it’s like. I feel really fortunate to have those two to lean on, and to find out more information from.
As you are about to embark on this experience, how are you feeling?
My lead-up has been really messy. I just came off the London-Paris bike ride, then I got stuck in Paris, so at this moment in time, I’m incredibly tired, and just trying to get my head around everything. But once it starts, it’ll just be go, go, go, and I’m the sort of person who will just switch on. When I’m in the moment, I’ll have to do it, and do it to the best of my abilities. I’m excited, but right now, I’m tired. I know I’ll get to the point where I’m in the zone, ready to go all the way.