There is a woman backing Sadiq Khan in his run for mayor. Her name is Ivana Bartoletti, and she is Italian. A 36-year-old tough and determined woman, NHS worker, with 20 years experience in politics. In 2014 she ran for the European Parliament and now she stands as the Labour candidate for the London Assembly in Havering and Redbridge.
When did you decide that politics your life ?
I have to go a long way back, while I was a still in school. When I was 17 I went to the US to study for one year. Bill Clinton was campaigning at that time and I fell in love with the ideas of the democrats. I went back to Italy, I joined the ‘Sinistra Giovanile‘ (a left wing movement) and I worked with Barbara Pollastrini (a left wing Italian politician). Then I moved to the UK, I joined the Labour party and the Fabian Society, the Labour’s think tank.
Was it easy to bring your political experience from Italy to the UK?
Not really. I had to start nearly from scratch. I came here for work. After a while I decided to go back to uni for a master degree. I wanted to become a lawyer, but I changed my mind and I joined the Labour party, where I started from the bottom, giving out flyers. Of course, it helps when you have some experience and my previous work in Italian politic helped me a lot. I climbed the political ladder quite quickly, also thanks to the fact that this is a country more dynamic than Italy.
What are the differences between Italian and English politics?
While politics is always complicated, both here and in Italy, and more if you are a woman, it’s true that in Italy nepotism is the rule. In Britain things change quickly, people move around, while in Italy they keep their position for 30 or 40 years. Look at David Milliband: he lost the elections and went to the US, Tony Blair is not in parliament anymore, everything is more dynamic. In Italy you keep seeing the same faces over and over.
What is the core of your campaign for the London Assembly?
I would like London to be the place I chose years ago when I moved from Italy: an open-minded place, where everyone is welcome, no matter the race, the colour of the skin, the background, the religion. Where if you work hard, you can make it. London has changed a lot, unfortunately, in the last years. It’s an amusement park for rich people, kids do not have the same opportunities, inequality is everywhere. I like the idea of a place where someone like Sadiq can be mayor: a guy whose father was a bus driver, who studied hard, worked hard, who became a lawyer first, and then minister in the British government. I would like London to be the place of excellency, not a place ruled by developers.
Why do you think Sadiq can be a better mayor than Zac Goldsmith?
The story of Sadiq speaks for himself. Sadiq represents the London we all love, multicultural and open to everyone. Moreover, Sadiq is pro-Europe, while Goldsmith wants Britain out of Europe. Can a place like London have an anti-Europe mayor?
The European registered to vote in London are 10% of the electorate. But will they vote?
Some of them will do. Many are here only for a short time and they do not participate actively. But the ones who are more established, who have children going to school, for example, want to have their say. There is a big community of Italian-Bangladeshi in my constituency and they will all vote. I hope many more will do, because the right mayor can make a difference in their life.
You are due to give birth to your second child in a couple of weeks. How can you manage your candidacy with your personal life?
It’s my personal choice and I have no problem with that. My partner helps me a lot. But, above all, I’ve learned that there is no shame in asking for help.