‘A woman after every union woman’s heart’

Labour MP Naz Shah wins applause with the story of her own personal politics

“A brilliant inspirational speak,” said Fiona Starkey-Norman. “A woman after every union woman’s heart,” said Helen Ann Hawkins. Labour MP Naz Shah, who beat George Galloway to win her seat as MP for Bradford at the last election, won applause at the union’s women’s conference in Brighton this morning.

“There’s no way this could be a Tory party conference, there’s way too much diversity in this room!” she began.

She told conference her own story, describing what drives her: “My politics, what’s inside me, what’s my passion.

“My father did not pick me up for nine months because I was a girl. He left my mum when I was six years old.”

She described moving “from squalor to squalor,” and remembers getting off buses with her mum crying, confused as she didn’t know where to go.

After her father had left them, it was her mother who was marginalised and then abused by a local business man.

Ms Shah herself was thrown into a forced marriage.

Having escaped from her marriage and found work in the NHS, she found a passion for leadership and was asked to run for election.  “It’s a dirty world,” she said, and refused; but was persuaded by the question: “If you’re not going to get in it, who’s going to clean it up?”

She was proved right and found her opponent running a dirty campaign. During her first hustings, George Galloway pulled out her marriage certificate: no one thought to ask him about his own four marriages.

When he threatened to publish photos of her “in a miniskirt”, Ms Shah decided: “I will be damned if a man owns my narrative,” and on international women’s day published her own blog, which went viral.

She describes her victory as “in spite of misogyny,” and triumphantly declared: “Galloway was banished from Bradford.”