I went to the local primary, then the local state secondary, before becoming the first person in my family to go to university. My secondary school was not one that typically sent many of its pupils, if any at all, to university each year, let alone one that pushed them to consider applying to any of the country’s elite universities. I will never forget one teacher’s advice to me upon expressing an interest in applying: “go for it by all means, but don’t put down anywhere stupid like the London School of Economics as one of your preferences.”
So that’s exactly what I did.
With the support of outstanding teachers, I secured my place at the LSE to study History and International Relations. Like many people who head to university from an ordinary background, I always had a feeling that I didn’t really belong. But I worked hard, did well and was lucky enough to secure funding for a Masters at Balliol College, Oxford, in the same subject.
When I left university, I went on to work for a number of charities and voluntary sector organisations. I got involved with the Child Poverty Action Group to ensure low-income families and children get a better deal. I worked for the Fair Pay Network to raise awareness about in-work poverty and push for action to address Britain’s endemic levels of low pay. And I became a researcher at the Resolution Foundation in order to develop new ideas about how the wealth our country generates can be more fairly shared.I have been lucky. But I know that any success I’ve had has been achieved in spite of our unequal society not because of it. That’s why I decided to join the Labour Party. I was determined to be a voice for those who do not have privileged access to power and to be part of a movement fighting to bring about a fairer and more equal society than the one I grew up in.
In Greenwich, I became a local councillor, serving the area that has been home to Joanna and me for many years and is now home to our two children, Arthur and Edie. I was also a Governor at James Wolfe Primary School and joined the Board of Trustees of Greenwich Housing Rights. When Nick Raynsford decided to stand down at the 2015 election, I put myself forward to be the next MP for Greenwich and Woolwich. I’m extremely grateful to all those who put their trust in me to represent them in Westminster for the past four years.
It is a huge honour to represent our constituency in Parliament, and one that I never take for granted. As well as being an enormous privilege it is also the biggest challenge and responsibility I will ever have. From the day I was first elected in May 2015, I have defended and advanced the interests of all the communities that I serve. If you put your trust in me once again, I will continue to work tirelessly on your behalf and to remain your local champion in Westminster.