Labour needs more MPs with a working-class background and real life experience. Because of the challenges I overcame as a child and the experience that I have through working in the NHS and later as a lawyer, I have the credibility and the skills to win Stoke South back for Labour.
I know Stoke South well having worked in the area and I have an understanding of the many issues it faces. The priorities must be improving healthcare, increasing investment in the constituency and eradicating poverty. Austerity has been a disaster for many communities not least those in Stoke South. Our public services are at breaking point and morale is low and people are suffering. As the PPC for Stoke South I will be a voice for those who continue to suffer under the regressive policies of this government.
It is essential that we as a party appeal to those who do not normally vote Labour. I have the skills and importantly the life experience that enables me to empathise with people who are not traditional labour supporters and this is what we need if we are to win Stoke South.
I am the only child of a single parent and grew up in a tower block. Growing up, I knew no one who had been to university, indeed, no one who stayed on at school to do their A-levels. I lived on an estate, which was the largest red-light district in the City and was crime ridden. I left school at 16 with limited qualifications and began work in a sheet metal factory.
A year later, I got a job as a hospital porter on a youth placement scheme and started a training programme. Over time, I worked my way up to the A&E and then to the Operating Theatre. Because of this experience, I know how important having a good, strong and local health service is particularly to the elderly and the vulnerable.
It is because I started on a work-placed training scheme after school, I know that there are many routes that our young people can take, whether that’s straight into work, academia or an apprenticeship programme. The important issue for me is that every child should have equality of opportunity. No one should be left behind.
Whilst working in the NHS I became a shop steward and campaigned against the cuts of the then Thatcher government. It was at this time that I took the decision to become a lawyer. At the age of 25, I went to night school and took my A-levels, I then went to University and trained as a Barrister. I worked full time in the operating theatre all the way through my studies.
I know better than anyone that if I had to face those astronomical fees that young people face today, I may never have gone on the path to university. That is why I feel so strongly in our policy to abolish tuition fees, so that all those capable of going to university are not deterred.
I am now an international human rights law barrister. I have dedicated myself to helping the disenfranchised, poor and vulnerable both in the UK and overseas. I founded and ran a large miscarriage of justice organisation and for many years was the Trustee of a human rights charity representing inmates facing the death penalty. I have written widely on issues of Labour party policy, human rights and international law. I have chaired and spoken at seminars, lectured in the UK and in The Hague and given interviews on numerous occasions in the media. I was also recently a legal advisor to the Leadership Office.
I have a track record of campaigning for the party over the last 25 years. As a PPC in Wantage, I brought in new members and ran campaigns that achieved front page coverage in the local press.
Working with our Councillors and party members, I am confident that we can take on the Tories and return Stoke South to Labour at the next election. I am self-employed so can commit to campaigning immediately after selection and will be ready for the election whenever it is called.