Many of you know me well already. I have been at the heart of Labour politics in Coventry for over 25 years, and I’m well known as a local campaigner. Coventry is where my husband Matt and I chose to make our home and start our family. Our twin teenage sons are proud Cov Kids, and local Party activists.
My Dad, like his brother, joined the Royal Navy aged 15, and I was born on a Navy Base. I grew up in an ordinary working class family. I was the first in my family to stay on at school, and I didn’t know anyone who had been to university.
As I grew up my Dad went to work in factories – but by the time I was a teenager he had started to suffer periods of unemployment, thanks to Maggie Thatcher. My Mum worked as a cleaner, and later in the NHS.
I had to battle really hard for my education – a brave thing to do – all my friends left school at 16.
But today I am a Qualified Teacher, and hold a Masters Degree from Warwick University. I was lucky to be born into a generation which benefited from opportunities that had been opened up by the Labour Governments of Clement Attlee and Harold Wilson – the very opportunities which the Tories use Austerity and Brexit to destroy for future generations.
My husband Matt and I met as 6th Formers. Like me, Matt started life in social housing, and like me he benefited from educational opportunities created by Labour, which enabled him to go on to study and later teach at Cambridge University.
Matt has been Professor of History at London University for well over a decade, and as Vice Master of Birkbeck is responsible for the day-to-day running of Britain’s first socialist University. Founded in 1823, Birkbeck was set up to provide education for working men and women. Amongst much else, Matt is responsible for Britain’s biggest cohort of UnionLearn degree students.
Life in Labour
I have been a Labour Party Member and activist for over 30 years, and a GMB Trade Unionist for over 20 years. I’m also a former Secretary of the Coventry & Warwickshire Co-Operative Party, a member of Momentum, and an Ally of Labour LGBTQ+.
I was Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Nuneaton in 2010, and for Birmingham Yardley in 2005. Both were Labour-held marginals, and I successfully held the Labour vote as the tide swung against us nationally. Both times I built a strong campaigning team of Labour Members and Trade Unionists, and I loved every minute of it.
I led major fundraising campaigns for both seats, and raised over £12,000 to fund the Nuneaton campaign alone.
In Nuneaton and in Birmingham Yardley I was an official ‘GMB Supported Candidate’, and I also attracted much backing from the full spectrum of local trade unions including Unite, CWU, USDAW and Unison.
Coventry North West CLP isn’t just a way of life for my family, it is a way of life for so many other local members too. I first got to know many of you when I worked for Geoffrey Robinson MP as Labour prepared for government in the 1990s. Since then I’ve held any number of political roles, as well as kicking the Tories out of Whoberley Ward, and working with friends and colleagues to make it into one of the most active and safest Labour wards in our city. I have served at all levels of the Council, including Chair of the Education and Children’s Services Scrutiny Board, Deputy Cabinet Member and Cabinet Member.
I am proud that in my political and professional roles, I’ve made a real difference in our city, across the West Midlands region, and beyond. I’ve set out some of those achievements here.
Select me as your Parliamentary Candidate, and I will ensure we secure the necessary funding to win this seat at the General Election. I will also build a strong Campaign Team to take the message to all corners of our constituency.
People are asking me where I would put myself on the Labour spectrum. I’m not a big fan of labels, to echo Jo Cox MP I believe there is more that unites us than divides us. I have always proudly described myself as a Socialist, a Party Loyalist and a Trade Unionist.
Protecting and strengthening our public services is at the heart of my politics. I am also committed to ensure everyone living in our wealthy nation should have access to real opportunities and a decent quality of life. Working class children of my generation had access to a range of opportunities, which shaped my life. We grew up in a country that had a functioning welfare state, so my Mum and Dad held things together through tough times and periods of unemployment, despite all Maggie Thatcher threw at them. I had always believed life would get better for each generation, as it had done in Britain throughout the Twentieth Century.
It is clear the Tory politics of Austerity and now Brexit are designed to sweep aside this progress and turn back the clock. Our nation stands at a crossroads, and together we must ensure Boris Johnson and his privileged friends do not get further opportunity to milk Britain’s wealth for themselves. We must be a nation for the many, not the few.
Growing numbers of people sleep in doorways, and in Coventry hundreds of families have no permanent home. Thousands of children are going to school with no food in their bellies. At the same time we face a Climate Crisis, and we need a Green Industrial Revolution to create a sustainable future.
Britain urgently needs a Labour Government. The day Jeremy Corbyn replaces Boris Johnson as Prime Minister cannot come soon enough.