Council leader launches bid to become next Labour MP for Barking

An East London council leader has launched his bid to become the area’s next Labour MP.

Barking and Dagenham Council leader Darren Rodwell, who once said there should be a 36-hour train from Barking to Beijing by the end of the decade, is hoping to take the Barking seat of Margaret Hodge, who is stepping down at the next election after 28 years as an MP.

He tweeted a campaign video from his account on Friday September 23, writing: “For me, it’s always been about community. This borough has always been my home and I’m proud of what we’ve achieved here together but I know I can do so much more as your voice in Parliament – that’s why I’m standing to be the next Labour MP for Barking.”

In the video, Cllr Rodwell explains he gave up his full-time job to ‘fend off’ Nick Griffin and the British National Party, adding: “We knocked [on] tens of thousands of doors, and rather than telling people what to think, we listened and we won people back.

“The day we sent Nick Griffin packing, I was elected councillor and I’ve never looked back.”

Prior to his role as councillor, Mr Rodwell helped to lead a Labour Party campaign and successfully defeated the British National Party campaign in 2010. He was elected onto the council in 2010 and became council leader in 2014.

In November 2021, Cllr Rodwell revealed bold plans for an international train service to run from Beijing to Barking that would take just 36 hours by the end of the decade.

He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “By the end of this decade you’ll be able to get a train to all of Europe, you’ll be able to go to Russia, China, Asia Africa – 80 per cent of the world’s economies on a train from east London – from Barking to Beijing in 36 hours.”

Cllr Rodwell said the borough’s history had helped to change the rest of the world.

He said: “We are proud to say we are east London and we are proud to say we can change the world because we’ve done it so many times.

“We stopped slavery, we brought equality, and by the way to our friends in the United States we also funded your independence. So the world owes us, and we should be asking the world not for a handout but for opportunities.”

Ruby Gregory

Local Democracy Reporter