New baroness Ayesha Hazarika praises Coatbridge home town on taking her seat in House of Lords

New baroness Ayesha Hazarika praises Coatbridge home town on taking her seat in House of Lords

New baroness Ayesha Hazarika praises Coatbridge home town on taking her seat in House of Lords

New baroness Ayesha Hazarika praises Coatbridge home town on taking her seat in House of Lords

A political adviser and broadcaster who grew up in Coatbridge has been appointed to the House of Lords – and has chosen the name of her home town for her new title.


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Ayesha Hazarika has worked in politics and for the Labour party for more than 25 years, including serving as a special adviser to Harriet Harman and working alongside party leaders Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband, before becoming a consultant and broadcaster, including presenting her own shows on LBC and Times Radio.

Now she has been ennobled at Westminster as Baroness Hazarika of Coatbridge, becoming the first person of Indian Assamese heritage to enter the House of Lords and paid tribute to her home town and parents in her maiden speech, hastily arranged to take place before the snap election and dissolution of parliament.

She was accompanied to her formal ceremony of introduction at the House of Lords by her parents and wider family, and spoke of the “overwhelming” experience of taking her historic place on the famous red benches for the first time.

Having donned the ermine robes of office, she was introduced in the chamber by Baroness Helena Kennedy and Lord Alf Dubs and swore her oath on the Quran and later told in her maiden speech how “it is a great privilege and honour to be able to serve my country in parliament”.

Baroness Hazarika told Lanarkshire Live: “I’ve done a lot of big things but I’ve never felt so nervous as this – there was a real sense of occasion and when I was standing at the dispatch box taking the oath I felt like the whole chamber could hear my heart beating!

“The robing room is where the King gets ready for the state opening of parliament and it’s a massive regal room which you feel tiny in; the clerk read a speech about what’s expected so it was very serious and solemn.

“My sponsors are two people I really look up to who do amazing work and really embody public service. I feel incredibly lucky and privileged and will work hard to live up to those standards.

“Declaring the oath and swearing on the Quran was a moment of real pride. I’m immensely proud to be the first person of Indian Assamese heritage to enter British politics; it means so much to my mum and dad and I’ve had so many messages and good wishes from India.”

The new Baroness Hazarika grew up in Coatbridge where her dad served the community for decades as a respected local GP at both the Church Street and Coatbridge health centre practices, and she began her schooldays for two years at Langloan Primary.

She talks fondly of her warm memories of growing up in the town, from local music lessons to much-loved neighbours – and even shared her recollections of a work experience placement at the Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser including interviewing Monklands provost Edward Cairns at the Municipal Buildings and planned development at the Quadrant shopping centre.

Ayesha said: “I feel very proud to come from Coatbridge and for this to be my title as I have so many fond memories of growing up there. People were so kind and we had so many lovely family friends like Mrs Buchanan who lived next door and our ‘surrogate gran’, Mrs Gamson, who my brother and I just adored.

“My mum and dad came to this country in the late 60s from Assam in north-east India with the classic immigrant story of having just a suitcase and £3 in their pocket – they didn’t know it would be like and have built such a wonderful life in this country and people have been so lovely and kind.

“Dad came to be a doctor in the NHS; he and his best friend had both been in The Wirral but then his friend got a job in Airdrie so he came to Coatbridge as he wanted to be near friends. He didn’t know anything about Coatbridge but people welcomed them so warmly – even now people will ask me, ‘was your dad the doctor?’

“I learned to play piano and cello with local music teachers, I went to Brownies and Guides in Coatbridge, and I always wanted to be in journalism or politics and loved my work experience at the Advertiser – I was agog and going to interview the provost was so exciting!”

Ayesha went on to attend Laurel Bank school in Glasgow and Hull University where she studied law, then began working at Westminster as a civil servant in departments including agriculture and the Home Office, becoming chief press secretary at the department for trade and industry and an adviser at 10 Downing Street.

She spent years working in the Labour government as an adviser for Harriet Harman, helping to draft the 2010 equality act and helping party leaders to prepare for their weekly Prime Minister’s Questions sessions – and even had a unique second career with a foray into stand-up comedy.

Moving on from her political advisory roles nearly a decade ago, she has been busy and in demand as a political analyst and pundit, writing for a string of newspapers including the Scotsman, Evening Standard and Guardian and presenting her own current affairs show on Times Radio.

Her maiden speech at the House of Lords came sooner than expected in order to take place ahead of the dissolution of parliament, and she paid tribute to her parents and said: “I am so glad that [they] chose to settle in Coatbridge

Ayesha told Lanarkshire Live: “I’ll be looking to make lots of contributions on behalf of things I feel strongly about, like inequality, rights for women and girls and the fact that so many people are really having a tough time at the moment, and I’ll want to speak up on these big issues. “I’ve done a lot of work with charities and women’s organisations, and I’ve always stayed close to what’s happening in Lanarkshire politics.”


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