Islington North Labour candidate Praful Nargund interview

Islington North Labour candidate Praful Nargund interview

Cllr Praful Nargund was chosen by party bosses to challenge the constituency’s long-standing MP Jeremy Corbyn at the General Election without a vote of party members.

In one of his first media interviews since launching his campaign more than two weeks ago, the 33-year-old claimed the party had no choice but to bypass members due to the surprise timing of the election.

He also claimed that a 2015 clip posted to X in which he appears to say that “privatisation of healthcare is very, very important” has been deliberately edited and does not represent his views.

Nargund had remained tight-lipped about his potential candidacy when Labour announced the start of the Islington North selection process on May 15.

The following week, the party revealed that it had whittled down its shortlist to two candidates – Nargund and London Assembly member Sem Moema.

A vote on who should run in the seat had been planned, but on May 24 it was announced that Nargund had been selected before members could be balloted.

Officers at the local Labour party released a statement shortly afterwards, claiming that his appointment was the “final stage in an egregiously undemocratic process”.

Nargund’s selection came just hours after Islington North’s long-standing MP Jeremy Corbyn confirmed he would run as an independent candidate.

Speaking to Islington Gazette yesterday (June 17), Nargund defended the party process, claiming that the “snap” nature of the general election meant “things needed to get off the ground quickly”.

He said he had since “mobilised a huge campaign”, and had been making the case for a Labour government and a Labour MP in Islington North.

The 33-year-old, who was previously a director at his family’s private IVF treatment firm, also said he “fully and proudly believes in an NHS that is free at the point of use”.

It comes after a ten-second clip surfaced in which Nargund appears to say: “Privatisation of healthcare is very, very important”.

The Labour candidate claimed that the clip, which dates back to 2015, was a short section of a longer talk that had been “deliberately edited in such a way to misrepresent me”.

Nargund, whose parents came to the UK in the 1980s to work in the NHS, told Islington Gazette: “My politics are rooted in the fact that I come from an NHS family and believe in those values.

“What I was talking about was actually about how IVF services should become more affordable.

“All I was trying to do was highlight this was an important issue which needed to be talked about.”

A longer, 16-minute video of the talk, titled – “how can the private sector help with innovation and accessibility of fertility treatment?” – can be found on YouTube.

Bradford-born Nargund, who moved to Islington in 2015, said he would continue to campaign to reduce waiting lists at Whittington Hospital, as well as opposing the potential closure of its maternity unit.

He listed the cost-of-living crisis and London housing crisis as problems he would like to help tackle if elected.

Reducing anti-social behaviour has been named by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer as one of his key priorities for Government, and Nargund has vowed to support this goal.

He described incidents of knife crime in Islington as “devastating”, and said that he would work with local councillors and police forces to tackle crime “hotspots”.

Nargund has committed to supporting a ban on zombie knives, describing them as “despicable”, including strengthening the rules around their sale online.

He also promised to be a “local, campaigning constituency Labour MP”, and pledged to devise a local skills plan to help young people access the “jobs of the future”.

The Barnsbury councillor, who was first elected to the council two years ago, largely refused to be drawn on the challenge of trying to unseat Corbyn on July 4, and did not mention him by name during the interview.

Nargund did, however, repeatedly emphasise that he believed only a Labour MP can ensure Islington North has “a seat at the table” if a Labour government is elected.

He pledged to continue on as an Islington councillor if he fails to win on July 4.

But the councillor said that he was expecting a double victory in July – England’s men’s football team will win this year’s Euros, according to Nargund.

He said that as an Arsenal fan, he would also be cheering on the Gunners to win the Premier League next season.

The 33-year-old, who is the father to two young girls, added that he was “really looking forward” to taking them to see Arsenal women’s games, now that more are planned for the Emirates.

The full list of candidates in Islington North is as follows:

  • Vikkas Aggarwal – Liberal Democrat
  • Jeremy Corbyn – Independent
  • Karen Harries – Conservative and Unionist Party
  • Paul Josling – Independent
  • Sheridan Kates – Green Party
  • Praful Nargund – Labour Party
  • Martyn Nelson – Reform UK

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