I got into politics by accident – Ghanaian woman voted into UK Parliament
Abena Oppong-Asare, a Ghanaian descent, who is the newly-elected Member of Parliament (MP) for the Erith & Thamesmead constituency in London, has revealed how she landed into politics by chance.
Ms Oppong-Asare has never looked back and was grateful she took that bold decision which has propelled her to be one of only two women from Ghana to gain the opportunity to be legislators in the UK, on the ticket of the Labour party.
She takes over from Labour’s Teresa Pearce who was the constituency’s long-standing MP, winning the seat in the last three elections. The product of the University of Kent graduating with a Politics with International Relations BA (Hons) and a Master’s degree in International Law with International Relations garnered 48 per cent of the votes and a majority of 3,758.
Prior to the elections, she told Paul Adom-Octchere on Metro TV’s Good Evening Ghana: “I kind of stumbled into it by accident”.
Ms Oppong-Asare who had no background and experience in politics recounted how a pal had convinced her to take a shot at UK politics.
“A family friend of mine introduced me to politics when I was young. I was a teacher and she talked to me about the political process”.
The first black woman to be elected onto the Fabian Women’s Network Executive Committee was “one of three people shortlisted for that seat and I was the only one shortlisted who live in the constituency”.
After being selected she had a short time to canvass for votes and revealed that: “It was one of the fastest campaigns I have ever worked on” but “I was really lucky that I had a lot of friends and people in the constituency who came out and supported me”.
The former local councillor who has also held the positions of Deputy Labour Leader and Shadow Cabinet Spokesperson for Education at Bexley Council “saw a lot of injustice that was happening so I just naturally fell into it. Originally, I wanted to go into human rights but I just kind of stumbled into UK politics”.
For her, joining the Labour party was easier she felt she could better help society on such a political platform because: “It represents the values that I was brought up with which is making sure that everyone has an equal chance in life”
The Researcher for the London Assembly Labour Group with focus on equalities said she has witnessed the performance of “the Conservative gov’t for the last nine years and I have seen how it has impacted many people in the communities.
“I have seen how a conservative council has impacted people in a really negative way,” she emphasised.
She disclosed: “I have had to turn people to food banks; people that were working essentially in full-time jobs because they essentially couldn’t afford to basically put food on their tables”.
The Labour party however suffered a defeat in the general elections losing 59 seats and finishing with 203. The Conservatives won 365 seats.