Ali in June 2017
|Shadow Minister for Education|
8 October 2013 - 26 September 2014
|Member of Parliament|
for Bethnal Green and Bow
6 May 2010 - 6 November 2019
|Election in progress|
|Born||14 March 1975|
Bishwanath, Sylhet, Bangladesh
|Residence||London, United Kingdom|
|Alma mater||University of Oxford|
Tower Hamlets College
Rushanara Ali (Bengali: ? , Sylheti: ? ; 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. Previously Shadow Minister for International Development, in the 2013 Labour reshuffle, Ali joined the Shadow Education team. She resigned from the Labour frontbench to abstain on a House of Commons motion permitting military action in Iraq in September 2014.
Ali was born in Bishwanath, Sylhet, Bangladesh. 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 of the University of 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 helped to develop "Language Line", a national telephone interpreting service in over 100 languages. Between 1997-1999 she was parliamentary assistant to Oona King, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow.
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.
Previously, Ali worked as Associate Director of the Young Foundation in Bethnal Green, a thinktank focused on social innovation. She has also served 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.
Ali has published articles on a variety of political issues in numerous national and local media including The Guardian, Prospect magazine and Progress magazine. Ali has also appeared on Question Time Extra, BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour and Thinking Allowed.
In March 2009, Ali was listed by The Guardian as one of the most powerful Muslim women in Britain.
In April 2007, Ali was chosen as the Labour Party's prospective Parliamentary candidate for Bethnal Green and Bow. In May 2010, she was elected as a Member of Parliament with a majority of 11,574 votes. She is the first person of Bangladeshi origin to have been elected to the House of Commons, and along with Shabana Mahmood and Yasmin Qureshi, became one of the United Kingdom's first female Muslim MPs.
In October 2013, Ali was appointed Shadow Minister for Education. On 26 September 2014, she resigned from the Labour frontbench Education team to abstain on the Coalition government's House of Commons motion permitting military action against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Iraq. 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.
Ali retained her seat at the 2015 general election, doubling her majority to 24,317 and earning a 61% share of the vote. In June 2015, she was one of 36 Labour MPs to nominate Jeremy Corbyn as a candidate in the Labour leadership election.
In March 2018, Ali received a suspicious package containing an anti-Islamic letter and sticky liquid. The substance was later found to be harmless. Similar packages were received by fellow Labour MPs Mohammad Yasin, Rupa Huq and Afzal Khan.