Nasim Ali’s name will be carved into the marble walls at the Town Hall as next leader of Camden Council. But who is he? Former Labour councillor Bob Latham profiles Ali's rise to the top
Published: 20 May 2010
NASIM Ali was born in 1969 in Islam Pur, a village in Sylhet. His first memories are of being carried to safety through the undergrowth to escape from marauding Pakistani forces as Bangladesh fought for its independence.
Aged seven, he was brought to the UK. He grew up on the Regent’s Park estate, attending Netley Primary School and South Camden Community School. He left with one O-level.
While working as an assistant in a clothes shop in Kentish Town, his manager spotted his potential and advised him to better himself. He moved on to work for British Telecom, which is where he acquired his nickname “Nash”.
In 1995, he left British Telecom and joined King’s Cross Brunswick Neighbourhood Association as a trainee youth worker. Nash acquired his distance-learning degree from the YMCA George Williams College while continuing to work full-time. He is now executive director of the neighbourhood association.
In November 1984, Nash made his first mark in Camden politics. Aged 15, he took his family to join the “occupation” of the Town Hall following the death of a Bangladeshi family in a bed-and-breakfast hotel in Westminster. Some five years later, he worked with Camden Law Centre to establish Camden Monitoring Project to provide safe transport for Bangladeshi men being attacked by skinheads on their way home from work. His father was working as a chef and his younger brother owned a pizza shop.
In August 1994, there was a high risk of violence and riots in Camden after the murder in Somers Town of Richard Everett, a white boy aged 15, by a group of Asian youths. Nash’s response was to establish Camden United Project, to unite youth through their common interest in football, diverting them away from racism, crime and conflict.
His work was recognised with one of the first Camden Good Citizen awards.
He was encouraged to stand for the council by his elder brother Sitar, who is now treasurer of the Bengali Workers’ Association.
In May 2002, Nash was elected for Regent’s Park ward. The following year he became the youngest mayor in the country.
Nash has consolidated his identity as a British Bangladeshi Muslim, giving him the strength to make his own choices. He lives with his wife Amanda in Haverstock with their three children, Rio, 6, Zac, 5, and Noah, 2.
Nash entered politics to ensure the next generation should have the same opportunities which Labour Camden has afforded him.