By Thomas L Blair © 3 April 2016
“Inspired by everyday people doing extraordinary things”, she is probably the best-known leader in London’s public realm. Jennette Arnold’s rise to leadership of the London Assembly proves you can be Black, proud and progressive.
She has worked flat out on “issues as diverse as night-time policing, support for private renters, motorcycle safety and childcare provision, while maintaining a laser like focus on the Mayor’s programmes and spending priorities,” reported on her website .
On the Assembly since 2000, she supports “vulnerable groups of people… in London with its diverse communities and its contrasts of wealth and poverty” . Furthermore, she writes “We’ve worked…to support the mental health and wellbeing of young Londoners from minority backgrounds”.
Profiled by Operation Black Vote, she recalled her first political memory: the 1965 Smethwick race riots in the West Midlands ignited by the infamous Enoch Powell’s ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech.
Arnold adds, “My politicisation was not only what was happening here but about what was happening on the international agenda. I grew up around people who were campaigning, especially those who were campaigning for freedom in African countries. This is what I grew up with everyday, so I was always surrounded by political action in one form or another.”
Of Monserrat heritage and Labour Party representative for multi-racial North East London, Arnold has put the Mayor’s feet to the fire on hot topics from knife crime and cybercrime to his housing legacy.
Relevant today, as the May 2016 mayoral election looms and Black London Futures lie in the balance, Arnold has a message for politically detached young people. “Go out there and get engaged in something positive – make a positive impact in the community.”