10 years as your MP

It’s ten years today since I was first elected as MP for Newcastle North and 13 years of Labour Government came to an end.

Nobody could have predicted what was going to happen over the next decade.

If things had played out as expected, there’d be a general election this week and I’d be asking voters in Newcastle North for their support for the third time.

Instead I’m already in my fourth term as Newcastle North’s MP, we’re on our third prime minister, facing an uncertain future outside of the EU and locked down under a global pandemic that has, tragically, killed over 30,000 people in the UK at the time of writing. Nobody could have predicted any of that.

The scale of change in Parliament itself has been astonishing to witness. Constituencies that were Labour strongholds for generations elected Conservative MPs in 2019, sending a clear message that we needed to change to be a credible alternative Government again. The Liberal Democrats, who won almost 10% of seats in 2010, have been replaced as the UK’s third party by the SNP, and in just the last few weeks MPs have been allowed to ask questions and make speeches from their own homes. All of this would have been unthinkable ten years ago.

Of course throughout my time as a Labour MP first elected in 2010, I have always been an opposition MP and never had the privilege of being part of a Labour Government.

Nonetheless I feel fortunate to have been able to take on a number of different roles in Parliament, in addition to my number one priority of representing Newcastle North. I was honoured to serve as Shadow Solicitor General, Shadow Education and then Shadow Treasury Minister, Shadow Attorney General and to sit on Parliament’s Education, Treasury and Petitions Committees. In January this year I was delighted to be elected as the new Chair of the Petitions Committee, through which I’m determined to ensure a wide range of public voices are heard in Parliament.

But as well as going to Westminster and shouting up on your behalf, I and my team have been pleased to be able to support the increasing numbers of people that need help in our community through our Lemington based office. It’s supporting local people over the years that has kept us going in a period when politics has been extremely tough.

Will the next decade be just as tough? Will we, as I hope, get a Labour Government that will ensure our country’s healthcare and infrastructure are well funded and well run, provide a stable business environment, and a strong safety net that everyone can fall back on in hard times?

While the experience of the last ten years shows we can’t say with any certainty what the long-term impact of the pandemic on our economy, politics and culture will be, the cracks it has exposed in our society should certainly give us all pause for reflection, and a desire for change.

It is a huge honour and privilege to represent the community I was born and continue to live in and I’m grateful to be able to work alongside so many fantastic people helping our area to grow and thrive. So thank you for all your support over the last 10 years – I look forward to hopefully continuing to work on your behalf in the years to come.