Labour’s Sarah Sackman tipped as ‘most likely to become PM’ at South Hampstead High School
- Credit: Nigel Sutton
With just under three weeks left until the general election, Labour’s Sarah Sackman has been tipped by pollster Lord Ashcroft to take Finchley and Golders Green from the Conservatives. Tim Lamden caught up with Ms Sackman ahead of the May 7 election.
In her year at South Hampstead High School, Sarah Sackman was the pupil everyone considered most likely to become a future prime minister.
The former head girl was a natural all-rounder who sang in the choir, played for the netball team and excelled academically.
She won a place at Cambridge University where she graduated with a first-class history degree before taking a law conversion course and then studying for a masters at Harvard Law School, in Massachusetts, USA.
Now 30, the barrister is bidding to leave behind her burgeoning career in public and environmental law to enter parliament and return Finchley and Golders Green to the Labour Party.
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“I don’t think it’s an accident that Obama is a product of Harvard Law School,” said Ms Sackman. “That is an attitude that they engender, that lawyers can change the world. We are practical but we also have some big ideas.”
Ms Sackman grew up with her two sisters in Brim Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, and regularly attended the local synagogue in Norrice Lea.
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“Being Jewish is an important part of my life and it’s an important part of my politics,” she said. “It taught me values of self-reliance and working hard and not forgetting that you’re part of a collective.”
She strongly opposed Ed Miliband’s decision to support a Commons motion calling for recognition of a Palestinian state last year, but is philosophical about the impact the motion will have on supporters of Israel living in Finchley and Golders Green.
“Ultimately I want to see a two-state solution but I don’t think the motion furthers that,” said Ms Sackman. “I think it has to be through bilateral negotiations.
“The Jewish community is not monolithic. I think to try and treat everyone in the same way is missing the point. There are some people who disagreed with the motion and on that basis they will be less likely to vote Labour.
“It’s important there are progressive, pro-Israel voices in the Labour Party.”
Ms Sackman was also strongly influenced by her grandfather, a businessman from Gibraltar who served as a government minister.
Her mother now runs the family cosmetics business in her native Gibraltar and splits her time between London and the continent, while her London-born father is a solicitor.
Ms Sackman met her husband, barrister Dan Squires, at an annual conference organised by Jewish educational charity Limmud. They live together in Ascham Street, Kentish Town.
After four years as a barrister, Ms Sackman took on one case which galvanised her more than any other, representing users of Friern Barnet Library in the successful court fight to stop the library’s closure by Barnet Council.
“The library was the catalyst that said, ‘Be part of the conversation, Sarah, don’t simply stand on the sidelines,’” she said.
“What the campaign taught me is that if you want to change people’s minds about how society and services should work, you have to be in politics. It brought together single mums, retired accountants and the local rabbi.
“It was a microcosm of what politics is about.”