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.
I was determined to be a voice for those who do not already 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.
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 already 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.
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.
In Greenwich, I became a local councillor, serving the area that has been home to Joanna and me for many years. 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 last May.
As I see it, I’ve been elected to do three things:
I’m here to improve the lives of my constituents and strengthen our communities.
First, I’m here to improve the lives of my constituents and strengthen our communities. As your MP, I can’t do everything, but I can be a powerful advocate for those that need help – by making a call, writing a letter, or organising a meeting. It is a seven-day, 80-hour a week job being a constituency MP. Every day by phone, letter, email or simply being stopped in the street, people ask for help. Everything from debt to problems with passport applications. The largest group need help with housing – repairs, a move or just getting an affordable home in the area. I want to make helping my constituents as straightforward as possible and when I am the right person to help a constituent I, and my staff, will do everything we can to assist.
I’m here to hold the Government to account, to oppose decisions that will impact upon my constituents and propose practical alternatives.
Second, as a member of the Opposition, I’m here to hold the Government to account, to oppose decisions that will have an adverse impact upon my constituents and to propose practical alternatives. I will not indulge in opposition for opposition’s sake. When the Government are doing something right, they will have my support. But when the Government make bad decisions, particularly ones that will have a detrimental impact on Greenwich and Woolwich, I’ll oppose them vigorously.
I write about my views on specific national and local issues on my blog and on Twitter. You can also take a look at the speeches I’ve made in Parliament and how I’ve voted at theyworkforyou.com
…an MP must play a role in understanding and developing ideas that respond to the bigger national and international challenges facing our country.
Third, an MP must play a role in understanding and developing ideas that respond to the bigger national and international challenges facing our country. One of the biggest we face is dangerous climate change, which poses a fundamental threat to our planet and to human development. One of my first decisions after I was elected was to become a member of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee so that I can play my part in ensuring that the Government does not cede the historic leadership the UK has shown when it comes to tackling catastrophic climate change.
Being your MP is an enormous privilege but it is also the biggest challenge and responsibility I will ever have. To be an effective parliamentarian and constituency MP I need your help. If you have ideas, concerns or any other suggestions about how we make our communities better places to live please get in touch.