OBV MP shadowing scheme inspired me


Update Nov 2017: Please note that the scheme is now closed for application.

‘OBV’s shadowing scheme gave me the inspiration to get involved in local politics’

Newly-elected councillor Shahzad Nawaz has credited Operation Black Vote’s MP’s shadowing scheme with inspiring him to stand for public office, even before the scheme is officially launched.

The accountant, who has 15 years of community activism under his belt, won a recent council byelection in Peterborough, replacing his former primary school headteacher.

Shahzad has been matched with Labour MP Keith Vaz as one of the successful applicants for a scheme whose alumni include MPs Helen Grant, Marsha de Cordova, Tan Dhesi, and Bristol mayor Marvin Rees.

Speaking to OBV, Shahzad said: “Having put myself forward for the shadowing scheme gave me the enthusiasm to do more. The opportunity to run for council came up, so I thought yes, it’s a chance to demonstrate my commitment to politics.”

The scheme is due to launch later this year, and almost all of the shadowees have been matched with sitting members of parliament. Shahzad, 39, has been treasurer of his local amateur football team, FC Peterborough, for the past two years as well as serving as joint president of the East of England Federation of Small Businesses.

He was approached to stand for council by John Shearman, his former headteacher where Shahzad attended the Beech primary school. Shearman was stepping down as councillor in the Park ward to care for his wife and encouraged Shahzad to put himself forward.

Just weeks into his new role Shahzad has already been appointed to two council scrutiny committees plus a cross-party working group looking at the council’s annual budget. He said: “It’s a fantastic role, a big responsibility and a brilliant opportunity.”

In addition to his council tasks, Shahzad has immersed himself in Labour activities, and his then 9-year-old son became a bit of a local celebrity during the 2017 election when his son asked Jeremy Corbyn a question when the Labour leader visited Peterborough. His son, Harnain, asked: “What does strong and stable mean?”

The election saw Peterborough’s first BME MP. Fiona Onasanya, narrowly beat the sitting Conservative MP, Stewart Jackson, in one of the results of the night for Labour last May. Shahzad is looking forward to meeting Keith Vaz, the veteran Labour MP for Leicester East, and shadowing him.