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Former Labour cabinet minister Peter Hain praises Tulip Siddiq’s ‘commitment to social justice’

PUBLISHED: 13:00 10 April 2014 | UPDATED: 13:26 10 April 2014

Tulip Siddiq and Peter Hain. Picture: Jonathan Goldberg.

Tulip Siddiq and Peter Hain. Picture: Jonathan Goldberg.

Jonathan Goldberg

Former Labour cabinet minister Peter Hain described Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn as a woman of “values and commitment to social justice” as he issued a rallying call to voters.

The 64-year-old, who served in the cabinets of both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, was interviewed by Labour candidate Cllr Tulip Siddiq at Swiss Cottage Community Centre, in Winchester Road, on Wednesday last week.

He concluded the talk, during which he spoke about his new book Ad & Wal, by encouraging audience members to vote for Cllr Siddiq in next year’s general election.

He told the Ham&High: “The more I’ve got to know Tulip the more I’ve admired her sense of values and commitment to social justice and making a difference, which is my watchword.”

Mr Hain also slammed the current government for repeatedly blaming the recession on “Labour overspending”, describing it as “the big deceit”.

“Greedy bankers plunged the economy into recession,” added Mr Hain. “We did not regulate our banks properly, but even then Cameron and Osborne were complaining there was too much regulation.”

Having served as secretary of state for Northern Ireland between 2005 and 2007, Mr Hain said that being part of the government which oversaw the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 was his “proudest” moment in politics.

However, he said he felt equal pride in having spearheaded the anti-apartheid campaign to stop the South African cricket team touring England in 1970, which was ultimately successful.

Mr Hain, an MP for Neath since 1991, spoke about his new book Ad & Wal, exploring the dramatic story of his parents’ campaign against apartheid which ultimately forced them to flee from South Africa to the UK in 1966.

He said: “I’ve written the story of my mother and father and it’s really about two very ordinary, modest people who were propelled by their sense of right and wrong to do extraordinary things.

“Their story has never been told and they’ve given me such incredible support throughout my life. It was a very interesting story to try to tell.

“There was nothing in their background which would have suggested the course they were going to follow.”

Mr Hain took part in a Q&A with Cllr Siddiq, a Regent’s Park councillor, before answering questions from the audience at last week’s free event.

He spoke at length about his relationship with former South African president Nelson Mandela and recalled the time he asked Mr Mandela to give his mother a call as she recovered from a broken leg in Swansea.

“I said to my mum, ‘I’ve got a very special person to speak to you,’ and handed the phone to him,” said Mr Hain.

“He said, ‘This is Mandela from South Africa, do you remember me?’ He had the most miraculous sense of humour!”

Cllr Siddiq said: “I was delighted to welcome Peter Hain to talk to local residents about the fighting spirit his family showed against the apartheid regime and combating racism.

“I also thought it was timely in the wake of Nelson Mandela’s death to listen to how he was influenced by his humanity and humility.

“In his book, Ad & Wal, he outlines the bravery and courage of his parents. They refused to remain silent in the face of social injustice, at a time when it was not fashionable to do so.”

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