NRI siblings set for UK parliament

The sister of Britain’s longest serving MP of Indian origin has been selected as the Labour candidate in a "safe" seat in a move that could present the world’s oldest parliament with its first Indian-origin female lawmaker as well as a rare brother-sister duo.

Valerie Vaz, sister of Keith Vaz, will run as the Labour candidate for Walsall South seat in west-central England at the next general election, widely expected to be held on May 6.

A lawyer by training, she will seek to succeed Bruce George, a Labour veteran who has represented the constituency for the last 36 years and whose current majority is 7,900 – healthy enough for Walsall South to be considered a safe Labour seat.

Siblings are rare in the House of Commons.

The current British parliament has two brothers in Labour MPs David and Ed Miliband – both are cabinet ministers – and a husband-wife pair in Sir Nicholas and Anne Winterton of the opposition Conservative party.

The last brother-sister pair may have been prime minister David Lloyd George’s son Gwilym and daughter Megan, who were both MPs from the 1920s to 1957 (Gwilym) and 1966 (Megan).

Gwilym was home minister in successive Conservative governments headed by Sir Winston Churchill and Sir Anthony Eden from 1954 to 1957. Megan, to the left of her brother, began with the Liberal party and then switched to Labour.

Valerie, like her brother Keith, was born in Aden, Yemen from parents who originated from Goa. Both siblings retain strong links with India, she said.

"I have family members in Mumbai and Goa, and visit India often," she told IANS.

"I will represent everybody in my constituency – the indigenous majority as well as the 26 percent ethnic minorities," said Valerie Vaz, who has worked as a deputy district judge, deputy mayor and a lawyer for the central and local governments.

Valerie Vaz said she thought the Indian parliament was "quite a bit ahead" in terms of moves by political parties to enlist more women MPs in winnable seats.

"In fact, if elected, I’d quite like to establish contacts with Indian women MPs and exchange ideas and experiences," she added.

Keith Vaz has been the MP for Leicester East constituency in southeast England since 1987.(IANS)


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