I was first elected to represent Lewisham Deptford in 2015 and was delighted to be re-elected in 2017 with an increased majority of 34,899 (63.3% of the vote). I have lived in Lewisham Deptford for well over 15 years now and it’s an absolute pleasure to represent the people and places I have got to know and love in that time.
Prior to my election, I served as a local councillor in Brockley ward (2010-14) and was chair of the Lewisham Council Labour group. During those years the coalition government made vicious cuts to local government, but I helped to ensure that Lewisham Council still delivered on its promise to build council houses for the first time in a generation and continue to be a living wage employer. These are both issues I believe are central to tackling the cost of living crisis.
I also worked for a trade union for 13 years and during my time there led campaigns against low pay, the exploitation of agency workers and the use of zero hour contracts. Again, these are issues I continue to feel strongly about and have striven to promote in Parliament. I want to see Lewisham become a place where everyone receives a genuine living wage.
Since during my time in Parliament I have worked hard to be a strong voice for Lewisham Deptford in Westminster. My focuses have been influenced by the issues encountered locally and by campaigns in the community. Perhaps most notably, following the deaths of five young people from the constituency shortly after I was elected and the rise of knife crime in the area, I arranged for a parliamentary debate on youth violence to take place. That debate called for the establishment of the Youth Violence Commission, which I now chair.
Following his election as Leader in September 2015, Jeremy Corbyn appointed me as one of his Opposition Whips. The whips are responsible for looking after the well-being of our MPs, as well as organising for votes. In July 2019 I moved from the Whips Office to the Shadow Digital, Culture, Media and Sport team and became Shadow Minister for Civil Society. I was sad to leave the Whips Office but am enjoying the new challenge. My new role involved working closely with charities, volunteers and social enterprise organisations.
It has been a huge privilege to represent the people of Lewisham Deptford in Parliament and if I am re-elected I will continue to do everything I can to bring your issues to Westminster.