Rushanara Ali

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Rushanara Ali
রুশনারা আলী
Rushanara Ali.jpg
Ali at the au Forum Libération de Grenoble in February 2013
Shadow Minister for Education
In office
October 2013 – 26 September 2014
Leader Ed Miliband
Member of Parliament
for Bethnal Green and Bow
Preceded by George Galloway
Majority 24,317 (46%)
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Personal details
Born (1975-03-14) 14 March 1975 (age 42)
Bishwanath, Sylhet District, Sylhet Division, Bangladesh
Nationality British
Political party Labour
Residence London, England
Alma mater St John's College, Oxford
Tower Hamlets College
Profession Politician
Religion Islam

Rushanara Ali (Bengali: রুশনারা আলী; born 14 March 1975) is a British Labour Party politician and Associate Director of the Young Foundation, who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Bethnal Green and Bow since 2010.[1] Previously Shadow Minister for International Development, in the 2013 Labour reshuffle, Ali joined the Shadow Education team.[2] She resigned from the Labour frontbench to abstain on a House of Commons motion permitting military action against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Iraq in September 2014.[3] She was re-elected in 2015 doubling her majority to 24,317 and earning 61% share of the vote.

Early life[edit]

Ali was born in Bishwanath, Sylhet District, Bangladesh.[4] With her family, Ali emigrated to the East End of London at the age of seven, where she attended Mulberry School for Girls and Tower Hamlets College. She grew up in Tower Hamlets where her father was a manual labourer. The first in her family to go to university, Ali studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at St John's College, Oxford.


Ali began her career as a research assistant to Michael Young, working on a project which paved the way for the establishment of Tower Hamlets Summer University, offering independent learning programmes for young people aged 11–25. She also helped to develop "Language Line", a national telephone interpreting service in over 100 languages. Between 1997–1999 she was also parliamentary assistant to Oona King, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow at the time.[5]

Ali worked on human rights issues at the Foreign Office from 2000–2001. Prior to this, she was a research fellow at the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) focussing on anti-discrimination issues from 1999–2002. From 2002–2005, she worked in the community cohesion unit at the Communities Directorate of the Home Office, leading a work programme to mobilise local and national agencies in the aftermath of the 2001 riots in Burnley, Bradford and Oldham, to prevent further conflict and unrest, challenging central Government to provide appropriate support to these areas.[6]

Since 2005, Ali has worked as Associate Director of the Young Foundation in Bethnal Green, a thinktank focussed on social innovation. She also serves as Chair of Tower Hamlets Summer University; a commissioner on the London Child Poverty Commission; board member of Tower Hamlets College; Trustee of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation; and member of the Tate Britain Council.[7][8]

Ali has published articles on a variety of political issues in numerous national and local media including The Guardian, Prospect magazine and Progress magazine.[9][10][11][12] Ali has also appeared on Question Time Extra, BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour and Thinking Allowed.[13][14] She was listed by The Guardian as one of the most powerful Muslim women in Britain.[15]

Parliamentary career[edit]

Ali in October 2007

In April 2007, Ali was chosen as the Labour Party's prospective Parliamentary candidate for Bethnal Green and Bow, and on 6 May 2010, was elected as a member of parliament with a majority of 11,574 votes.[16] She is the first person of Bangladeshi origin to have been elected to the House of Commons[17][18] and along with Shabana Mahmood and Yasmin Qureshi, became one of the United Kingdom's first female Muslim MPs.[19]

Ali resigned from the Labour frontbench Education team to abstain on the Coalition government's House of Commons motion permitting military action in Iraq on 26 September 2014.[3] In a letter to the leader of the party-Ed Miliband, she wrote "I appreciate the sincerity of members of parliament from all sides of the House who today support military action against ISIL. I know that British Muslims stand united in the total condemnation of the murders that ISIL have committed..However, there is a genuine belief in Muslim and non-Muslim communities that military action will only create further bloodshed and further pain for the people of Iraq," Ali also told Miliband that she remained totally committed to his leadership and was looking forward to his becoming the prime minister in next eight months' time. In his return letter to Ali, Miliband praised her as 'someone with great ability and talent'. Regretting her departure from the frontbench team, the Labour leader added that he accepted the resignation with due respect to her decision.[20][21]

In June 2015, Ali was one of 36 Labour MPs to nominate Jeremy Corbyn as a candidate in the Labour leadership election.[22]

In April 2016, British Prime Minister David Cameron appointed Ali as UK trade envoy for Bangladesh,[23][24] as part of cross party trade envoy network.[25][26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "BBC News – Election 2010 – Constituency – Bethnal Green & Bow". 
  2. ^ "Confirmed: Labour's new frontbench team in full". LabourList. 
  3. ^ a b "BBC News – MPs support UK air strikes against IS in Iraq". BBC News. 
  4. ^ UK gets its first Bengali MP, 7 May 2010, Retrieved on 12 May 2010
  5. ^ "Commission to tackle child poverty in London". London Councils. 20 February 2006. Retrieved 18 September 2008. 
  6. ^ Mohammed Abdul Karim & Md. Shahdoth Karim (July 2008). British Bangladeshi Who's Who, 2008. British Bangla Media Group. p. 45. Previously she worked at the Communities Directorate of the Home Office... 
  7. ^ "User Profile, Rushanara Ali". Social Innovation Exchange. Retrieved 18 September 2008. 
  8. ^ "Rushanara Ali". London Child Poverty Commission. Retrieved 18 September 2008. 
  9. ^ Ali, Rushanara (20 February 2008). "Let power reflect the people". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 18 September 2008. 
  10. ^ "The Angry East End". Prospect Magazine. March 2006. Retrieved 18 September 2008. 
  11. ^ "One year later". Prospect Magazine. July 2006. Retrieved 18 September 2008. 
  12. ^ "Articles by Rushanara Ali MP". Progress. Retrieved 24 October 2014. 
  13. ^ "Are more young women happy to vote Conservative?". BBC Radio 4. 14 May 2008. Retrieved 18 September 2008. 
  14. ^ "Laurie Taylor discusses the latest social science research.". BBC Radio 4. 25 June 2008. Retrieved 18 September 2008. 
  15. ^ Muslim Women Power List The Guardian, 25 March 2009; Retrieved 3 June 2009
  16. ^ "Rushanara Ali triumphs in an "historical moment" for Bethnal Green and Bow". East London Advertiser. 7 May 2010. Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  17. ^ MP Rushanara makes history East End Life, Tower Hamlets Council, 10 May 2010; Retrieved 11 May 2010
  18. ^ Rushanara Ali becomes first Bangladeshi MP London Evening Standard, 7 May 2010, Retrieved 11 May 2010
  19. ^ Adetunji, Jo; Tran, Mark (7 May 2010). "General election 2010: first female Muslim MPs elected". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  20. ^ 'As it happened: Commons debate on Iraq airstrikes'. The Times, 26 September 2014. Retrieved 29 October 2014.
  21. ^ 'Rushanara Ali resigns as shadow education minister over vote on Iraq military action'., 26 September 2014. Retrieved 29 October 2014.
  22. ^ "Who nominated who for the 2015 Labour leadership election?". New Statesman. 15 June 2015. Retrieved 8 September 2015. 
  23. ^ "UK prime minister appoints Rushanara Ali MP as trade envoy for Bangladesh". Bangladesh: 15 April 2016. Retrieved 2 April 2017. 
  24. ^ "UK's trade envoy appointment shows the way". Dhaka: Dhaka Tribune. 17 April 2016. Retrieved 2 April 2017. 
  25. ^ "Rushanara selected UK trade envoy for Bangladesh". Bangladesh: Prothom Alo. 15 April 2016. Retrieved 2 April 2017. 
  26. ^ "Rushanara Ali made British trade envoy for Bangladesh". Bangladesh: 15 April 2016. Retrieved 2 April 2017. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
George Galloway
Member of Parliament
for Bethnal Green and Bow