I was first elected in 1983, and I remain every bit as determined to fight for a better society today, as I was then. Prioritising the needs of the poor and protecting human rights is what I do best, be it at home or abroad, and I’ve been honoured to represent the people of Islington North and take their concerns and needs to Parliament.
The great changes in our society, from votes for women, to anti-discrimination laws and support for the disabled have all come from ordinary people demanding that their MP do what is right for them. Social housing should be available to all; the NHS and welfare state must be kept to protect us in times of need; and getting rid of dangerous and wasteful nuclear weapons and ending the wars that have blighted the globe in recent years are a must, and I devote much time to these aims.
I have always split my time between Westminster and Islington, and am involved with an array of local organisations, groups and community centres which in their own special way contribute to Islington being such a thriving part of our city. Meeting constituents, whether it is at my regular advice sessions, or just in the street has taught me enormous amounts about the vibrant community in Islington and about which issues I should focus on. Being the MP for so many constituents who have roots and family scattered across the globe has led to me to take a keen interest in international affairs – particularly those which relate to ensuring peace and the observance of human rights. I helped establish Stop the War coalition in 2001 and I am now their chair.
I have attended and spoken at human rights peace conferences across the globe, and I’ve travelled to many countries to speak out against militarisation, calling for solutions through peaceful negotiation. I continue to argue for the rights of the oppressed, in particular, the Palestinians, the Chagos Islanders, the Saharwi, but many more. I regularly attend the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva and have led delegations to Angola and Colombia. I have also visited both the DRC and Palestine to observe elections, and Western Sahara, and then Honduras and Guatemala as part of an Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) delegation.
I was originally a full time official for NUPE (now part of Unison) and when in parliament, a member of, and supported by Unison.