Ivana Bartoletti is Redbridge Labour’s GLA candidate for the Havering & Redbridge seat.
These days anyone visiting my home rarely leaves without Ivana’s promotional material in hand. Calling cards and leaflets occupy every corner of the passageway, living room and kitchen. But who is she exactly and what does she stand for? I decided to put a few questions to Ivana and find out.
What is your personal and professional background?
I work full time for NHS Protect, the organisation leading the fight against crime and corruption in the National Health Service. I spearhead the information governance unit, and my area of expertise is around privacy, data protection and Information Security. Before working for the NHS, I was active in politics at international and national level, including working as an adviser to former Italian Prime Minister, Romano Prodi, on Human Rights. I am also Chair the Fabian Women’s Network and sit on the Executive of the Labour Movement for Europe. I have a ten year old son, Ettore, and am expecting a baby girl with my husband, James.
What is your political background?
I started my political journey in secondary school – in the student movement. I wanted students to be more involved in how their schools were run. I then went on to study in the USA as an exchange student, and got involved in Bill Clinton’s election campaign. I then worked for Joan Christensen, a Democrat in the NY Assembly. When I returned to Italy, I joined Labour’s sister party, the Democrats of the Left. I started as Leader of Studenti.net (the equivalent of Labour students), then went on to lead a women’s organisation and finally to run the human rights department of the party.
What do you think are the most pressing issues of our age?
The economy: namely, how we generate growth and prosperity in the world we live in. We need more investment in innovation, science and technology so we can compete with emerging powerhouses like China and India. And of course, equality – I don’t like to live in a world where the 1% owns 99% of global wealth and resources.
So, how can the GLA respond to these issues?
First, by reforming the housing market. Houses should be homes and not commodities for people to play with. We need really affordable homes for young people to get on the housing ladder. Second, by investing in transport and infrastructure so that young Londoners can get the skills they need. For example, I am glad that Crossrail has provided jobs for 31 people in Redbridge, 16 of whom were previously unemployed. Third, we need to help businesses thrive. That is why I am pleased that Sadiq Khan has announced a new pledge to protect office spaces for small businesses and start-ups by amending planning rules and allocating new commercial spaces in residential and mixed-use developments. Fourth, we need to invest in transport: more trains and buses and cheaper fares. Fifth, the environment. We cannot compete globally if we do not sort out the quality of the air in our city. If the environment deteriorates than it is going to be very expensive in the longer term.
Looking back on your journey, what have been your proudest achievements?
Seeing more women getting into politics thanks to the Fabian Women’s Network mentoring programme; standing as an MEP candidate and helping Labour achieve the best European result in London since 1974; receiving the best personal achievement in the public sector award for protecting the most vulnerable on NHS premises. But most of all, I feel proud when I am a good mother, wife and friend.
What cultural, organisational and social barriers are there still to overcome?
There are still too many. I am very concerned that in 2016 your background is still determining what you do in life – whether it’s the colour of your skin, your gender or how much money mum and dad have. It is wrong. It is wrong ethically but also does not make any sense economically – inequality hinders growth as doesn’t allow the best talents to emerge.
What are your views on Sadiq Khan and his candidacy for Mayor of London?
Sadiq represents the best of London, which is: doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, your religion – if you are prepared to work hard and if you have the support of strong and solid public institutions (like schools and the NHS), you can make it. This is London at its best. Unfortunately, things are changing: I am not sure a child born in London today has the same opportunities they would have had 30 years ago. This is why we need a Labour Mayor !
How can people find out more about your campaign and work?
We are out most days and every weekend. We need a lot of help to make sure we talk to as many people as possible! All campaign sessions are on my website: www.ivanabartoletti.co.uk. Just get in touch!
You can also follow Ivana Bartoletti on Twitter: https://twitter.com/IvanaBartoletti