Back in the year 2000 party members in Gloucester took a chance on me as their PPC. This was despite the views expressed by the local newspaper at the time: “The people of Gloucester haven’t reached a sufficiently advanced stage of consciousness to accept a foreigner as their local MP.” The paper urged me to stand down so someone more ‘appropriate’ for a cathedral city could be chosen. Party members put their trust in me and the voters followed. Thanks to them I had a wonderful political career, may be to be re-continued one day.
On the ‘about’ page of this site you’ll learn a bit more about me. My brand of new politics was perhaps too radical for the House of Commons in 2009 when I became their first BAME MP to stand for speaker, but a new and refreshed politics is what I think we need.
Since joining the Labour Party at the age of 16 in 1987 I’ve held a variety of positions in it. Most of all as a foot soldier. I have been a branch officer, a constituency party officer, a local councillor, a Member of Parliament and a government minister under two labour leaders.
More recently I have worked in health, housing and community regeneration, and for a trade union. I am a charity trustee and I recently wrote a book about my experiences of growing up in an ethnic minority community, trying to navigate safe passage and a career in the Labour Party. It’s called My Political Race.
I write about politics. Labour members need to hear voices that will focus the minds of our leaders on winning elections. And that means reconnecting with voters in marginal seats, where Tories typically doubled or tripled their majorities over Labour in recent years. It means reconnecting with BAME communities which have moved away from the Party - analysis shows that the Hindu and Sikh communities were more likely to vote Tory than Labour for the first time at the 2015 general election. Communities, like the LGBT community and disabled people should not be taken for granted either.
Winning matters. Only Labour victories allowed us to sign the social chapter on workers’ rights. By winning we made our country a fairer place by creating civil partnerships, and we made the world a better place by eradicating debt from the poorest countries on this planet.
I’m proud to have worked as a minister under Brown and Blair but I was never afraid to disagree with them either. I walked through the lobbies with Robin Cook to oppose the war in Iraq. But I think you can disagree with each other without falling out with each other. Why? Because political achievements are not one person’s but the team’s.
Anyway, I hope you find this website interesting, feel free to contact me with your view. And if you get a chance – Read ‘My Political Race’(!)