On October 8, 2013 I was delighted to be appointed shadow minister for Public Health, after three very enjoyable years as shadow minister for Energy and Climate Change.
I am a child of Thatcher’s Britain. Born shortly after she came to power, I had my childhood in the 80s and 90s. I was only young, but I remember what it was like. It was a nasty, spiteful, shameful period in our history. I’m in politics to make sure that we never go back.
I grew up in Wembley, on the edge of London, in a close, Jewish family. My Dad runs a shop which is a family business and my Mum works as part of the patient and family support team in a Palliative Care Unit. My grandad sold ladies fashions from a market stall across Northampton. My brother is a musician.
I live in Kensington, Liverpool, off Prescot Road in a community which is vibrant, strong and proud. There has been tremendous progress in the years since we chased the Tories out of Downing Street in 1997, but there are still problems, made more difficult by the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition.
As Liverpool Wavertree’s MP I want to tackle these problems: first, to protect what we’ve achieved – together, as a community – from the Tory devastation we know so well; and second, to build on those achievements – to bring more jobs and investment to the area; to get the council and the police to use the powers a Labour government gave them to sort anti-social behaviour which causes such misery; to help the council provide the new housing we so desperately need.
My experience has given me the skills to do that. What you need in an MP is a local politician with national experience. That’s me. After doing degrees at Birmingham and London Universities – and being a national student leader – I went to work for one of the top management consultancies, Accenture. Working in their Government Strategy Unit, I advised the Treasury and several other government departments on how they could become more effective.
It was fascinating work and I learned a lot, but my core values drew me to the public sector. So I moved to the NHS Confederation – campaigning for the NHS within Westminster and Whitehall. I love the NHS.
Before being elected I ran a not-for-profit campaigning and education organisation which works for peace in the Middle East. Working with MPs and Ministers, trade unionists and academics, civil servants and charity workers from all over the world. Making a difference. Getting things done.
The common theme in all these jobs is understanding and influencing the Westminster and Whitehall machines. Knowing what doors to bang on when there’s a problem.
That’s my professional background. And that’s what a good MP’s job is all about: fighting for here – out there. Going into bat for Liverpool when it’s threatened, or when there might be opportunities, at the national or international level.
I’m rooted in the values of the Liverpool Wavertree community I live in. I’ve been a school governor and a safer neighbourhood rep. Understanding the community is a must. But it’s not enough by itself.
I also have years of experience, a real track record, of getting things done, making a difference, at the top level of national and supra-national government. And to be an effective voice in Parliament, really fighting Wavertree’s corner as its MP, that’s a must too.
Fighting our corner at Westminster to get things done about problems which might mean nothing in London, but could be everything to us.
In 2012, I produced and directed a film, Breadline Britain, on the merging scandal of foodbanks and the growing poverty giving rise to them, highlighting a major constituency issue that is now at the forefront of national concerns.
In 2013, made a film with Channel Four for The Political Slot highlighting what our city is doing to tackle unemployment and to offer women in particular new work opportunities – local lessons for national politics.
I was delighted to have four of my photographs published in the All-Party Parliamentary Photography Group Annual Exhibition book which contained 24 photographs in total from hundreds of photographs entered by parliamentarians.
Photography is one of my personal passions and the photographs, which included a family wedding, scenes from Liverpool and of a sun-kissed mosque in Abu Dhabi, generated a lot of interest from London to the United Arab Emirates.
I speak fluent Spanish and OK French. I go running and weight training when I have time, which doesn’t seem like very often these days. Same goes for the cinema, particularly British and Bollywood films.