Aisha Malik-Smith has knocked on every door in Northumberland Heathby Sophia Moss / May 2, 2018 / Leave a comment
Aisha Malik-Smith is not your average local council candidate. Born in December 1999, the 18-year-old divides her time between campaigning ahead of the 3rd May local elections and revising for her International Baccalaureate. Despite her age, Aisha has been a Labour activist for four years, she was elected as Labour Vice Chair of her constituency Old Bexley & Sidcup a year ago, she worked on the Labour campaign for mental health, and she’s been leafletting ever since she can remember.
Born into a Labour family, Aisha’s mother Kathryn Smith was a Labour councillor in Northumberland Heath, a ward in the Bexley borough of South East London where Aisha is running this time around. Her father Munir Malik is running as a candidate for the nearby Crayford ward. Aisha remembers being five years old and handing out campaign leaflets with her parents. “At the time I thought, god, I hope I never have to do this myself,” Aisha says, “but over the years I fell in love with it.”
Only 33 per cent of local councillors are female, according to research published in 2017 by think tank IPPR. A census in 2013 found that 96 per cent of local authority councillors were white, the average age of a councillor was 60, and only 12 per cent were under 45. “It’s not yet the norm for anyone who’s not a middle aged white man to be your political representative,” Aisha says, “so a few people were surprised to see a young mixed-race woman standing, but that just fuelled me to break down the expectations of the kind of person that’s suitable to represent us.”