'I want to stand up for people who don't fit the mould', says Labour MP candidate (From This Is Local London)
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'I want to stand up for people who don't fit the mould', says Labour MP candidate Sheila Carlson
An ex-mayor, union official and breast cancer survivor will champion the cause of people who do not "fit the mould" as Labour's candidate in next year's general election.
Epsom's Court ward councillor Sheila Carlson will be standing against the borough's Tory MP Chris Grayling next year in a bid to take her socialist views all the way to Parliament.
The London-born mother-of-three, who moved to Hook Road, Epsom, in 1981, believes fairness should underpin society - and that the Conservative party's values do not encompass this.
She said: "I've always been a socialist. You should be able to earn enough to put a roof over your head. Not everyone should earn the same amount but they should be paid enough."
She said Margaret Thatcher's premiership meant she "couldn't stay on the fence any more".
"Margaret Thatcher embodied everything obnoxious. She allowed people to say ‘sod everyone else, I’m alright’. That was unfair and unreasonable."
The daughter of working-class parents - a shop worker mother and a father who served in the RAF during World War Two - Coun Carlson left Tiffin Girls’ School, in Kingston, aged 18 to become a teacher - but decided not to pursue it as a career.
After various jobs, she joined the trade union GMB's Chessington office in 2005 as a secretary, and was appointed a case officer seven years later.
Sheila Carlson has lived in Epsom since 1981 and represents Court ward on Epsom and Ewell Borough Council
She became a member of the local Labour party in the early 1980s and stood unsuccessfully as an Epsom councillor for Stamford ward in 1995.
She was elected in 1997 in a by-election for Court ward - a seat she lost to the Lib Dems in 2005 but regained two years later.
The 62-year-old, who has spearheaded a campaign to bring dignity to the thousands buried in unmarked graves in Horton Cemetery, also served as Epsom and Ewell's mayor from 2012 to 2013.
She believes many people in the borough "who don't fit into the mould" need an alternative to Mr Grayling, 52, who has been the borough's MP since 2001 and is currently Secretary of State for Justice.
"An awful lot of people in Epsom and Ewell need someone who can stand up for them. I want to see people treated fairly and I don’t think they are," she said.
"I’m not under any illusions that it has been regarded as a safe Tory seat. However, we have an MP here who seems to have gone underground.
"He fought a good hospital campaign but the GPs made the decision to come away from the Better Services Better Value review. As Justice Secretary he’s talking about privatising the probation service.
"What has Chris Grayling achieved for Epsom and Ewell? I can’t think of one thing.
"I have been at the heart of the community since 1981. That does make a difference."
Sheila Carlson has played an active role in the Epsom Guardian's Horton Cemetery campaign
Having battled breast cancer twice, Coun Carlson said she is not as "placid" as she used to be: "I don’t feel I need to stand back anymore. I have become more definite about things and how I feel.
"Life is a relatively short time. You can either spend it ticking along and just being or you can get to it and say ‘I’ve achieved something with my life’."
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