I have always believed in one truth alongside my Conservative values – and that is the value of teamwork.
Individuals can only succeed in any endeavour if they are willing to put energy into harnessing the diverse talents of other people. This is why in my political career I have consistently been a grassroots-first MP. Indeed, politics divorced from its grassroots makes no sense to me. Operating in a sterile Westminster bubble with scant regard for how people in the area you represent feel is utterly futile. There are few joys greater to me than fighting an election against the odds with a team, working until you all drop and then ultimately winning. Even losing is – almost – bearable with your compatriots by your side!
This outlook has driven me to focus on building and nurturing a strong local team in Redditch. I know that the best teams are drawn from all sections of the communities they represent, and at times we Conservatives have been criticised for being “male, pale and stale”. Well, I challenge those critics to come to Redditch and meet our dynamic team.
By opening our arms to anyone who has the aspiration to stand, and who shares our values, we have started to build an exciting, strong and growing team, composed of people of all ages, backgrounds, genders, sexualities, faiths and ethnicities. We all know we stand stronger together, are able to better serve our community together, because of not despite our differences.
In May of this year Councillor Nyear Nazir became the first Muslim woman to serve on Redditch Borough Council. I’m proud to share her story and encourage anyone reading this who is thinking about contributing to public life to take the first step, just like Nyear did. If she can – so can you!
Below is Nyear’s inspiring message. Please do take the time to read it.
“Born and raised in Redditch, a place me and my family have called home since as long as I can recall. I feel blessed to say I have always felt apart of the fabric of the community and early on it became apparent to me just how important working together with others was. Seeking to collaborate and do more for those who were vulnerable or less advantaged than myself felt like an innate necessity.
“And so it was a natural transition for me to move into health and social care and eventually qualify as a social worker. The exposure that gave me to existing support networks, services and just how important these were to local people, was vital. Building confidence and supporting people to a level of independence was key.
“The desire to pursue a career in politics was always there, possibly stemming from having a keen interest participating in debates from school days. I can recall one such vigorous debate in my history class regarding Henry VIII over his many wives and my teacher consequently making an early prediction on my future in politics.
“My path towards becoming a councillor was still not clear. It was not until one poignant moment in which I was strolling social media and I came across a post in which the Conservatives were looking for candidates. The affinity and resonance this had with my core values compelled me to think, I can do this. My thoughts began to turn to what I could contribute in terms of housing, health, employment and everything else I had learned from my work and life experience.
“I had previously been following Rachel Maclean MP for Redditch. Seeing her hard work was personally inspiring as no MP prior to this had done more to better the local community. Rachel and the Conservatives were rebuilding Redditch, bringing back opportunities that had been stripped away by previous local government.
“Looking forward it was time for me to face a few realities. In case you haven’t guessed I am indeed a woman, working full time…and a Muslim at that. Being brought up as a British Muslim, two value systems which I hold very dear to me, each offering varied views and contrasting ideas have now stood me in good stead to tread fast in local politics. Having this outlook as well as my background in social work has placed me in a unique position where I find myself able to understand and cater to people from varying backgrounds throughout the community.
“All of these factors have provided encouragement and helped to quell all the anxious feelings I had about running to be a local councillor. Living in a world in which everything can seem so provocative, emotive and opinionated, I wanted to choose to focus on the politics of inclusion rather than the politics of division. I aimed to join with others in creating a democracy that truly represented and reflected the people who lived in my community. Implementing practical solutions that provided the most benefit was my ultimate goal.
“This was my conclusion and so I set out on the campaign trail despite not thinking I had a chance, but clear about my intentions. I had a number of conservative mentors who made me feel winning this election was achievable. Campaigning until late hours of the evening was crucial to reaching as many constituents as possible. Without the continued support of my husband, family and mentors it would not have been possible. This was not easy as I was working 40 hour weeks and campaigning for 3-4 hours everyday, including weekends.
“The next 3 months took nothing less than throwing 100% into both my work and the campaign with little respite. The nature of my work was equally important to me because I had a duty of care to the people I was supporting. This was something I have always sincerely valued.
“Balancing this with running a successful campaign and getting to as many constituents as I could to be a credible candidate was challenging to say the least. However this did not deter me but rather motivated me further to persevere.
“3rd May 2019 there I was standing on the podium waiting for the announcement of who had won the Redditch Local Elections. I never felt more pride, humility and gratitude then I did in the moment when I heard my name read out, Nyear Nazir Conservatives for Batchley and Brockhill.
“One month later after election, now Councillor Nyear Nazir I feel well placed, motivated and empowered to serve my constituency. Ive already been able to exemplify this by dealing with issues such as housing, drugs and antisocial behaviour. So here I am a working muslim woman. Immensely proud of being the first British Muslim Woman elected as a councillor for Redditch….excited would be an understatement.”