Q. What makes you a good candidate for Suffolk Coastal?
I spent my childhood growing up in Felixstowe. It’s the biggest town in the Suffolk Coastal constituency. I have lots of memories, friends and history associated with the area. Having lived in Suffolk the overwhelming majority of my life I have a strong affinity with the place.
Suffolk Coastal has great potential and opportunity. But I have real concern about what I have seen over the last 9 years. The closures of valuable local services, cutting of emergency services and lack of necessary investment means I’m fearful for its future. I’ve seen friends and family struggle and areas fall into neglect.
I want to see Suffolk Coastal revived. Adequate affordable housing, good and secure jobs, properly funded services, protection of the environment and the establishment of a real identity and raised profile of this area of the country.
Q. What has been your involvement in the Labour Party?
I’ve been a Labour Party member and avid campaigner since 2015. After the disappointment of the 2015 election, I was spurred on to become more involved in the party and make a positive difference in society. As a result I put forward my application and stood in the General Election 2017 for Suffolk Coastal constituency.
Despite the short lead up to the campaign we managed to increase the Labour vote from 10,013 in 2015 to 17,701 in 2017. This was the second highest number of Labour votes in the constituency in a General Election since 1983.
I have also been involved in Labour campaigns in Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Suffolk. I’ve attended East of England Labour Party conference for the last 4 years as part of the FBU delegation after we re-affiliated. I’ve successfully moved a number of motions during that period and played an active role in the event.
Q. What’s your role in the Fire Brigades Union?
I have been an official in the FBU in Cambridgeshire for over 7 years, starting at Branch and now as a Regional Official. In 2014 to 2015 the FBU was in industrial dispute with the government over unfair, unworkable changes to Firefighter Pensions. As part of this dispute a great deal of campaigning and effective communication initiatives were required to influence decisions and raise the public profile of our campaign. I spearheaded this campaign in Cambridgeshire by lobbying MPs in Westminster, public speaking, local and national media interviews and organising members across 27 different workplaces in Cambridgeshire. I’m also National Chair of the FBU’s Black and Ethnic Minority Members section.
Q. What about downtime?
I’m a keen traveller. I enjoy seeing different cultures, communities and environments. I feel this has given me a good grounding to be able to identify with others and celebrate our differences.
In 2010 I travelled to Uganda for 3 weeks with the Mityana Foundation to undertake community fire safety education with local children, following a concerning rise in the number of fires in schools. It was an enriching experience and one which undoubtedly had a visceral impact on my future world perspective.
Q. Why do you think you’ll run a great campaign in 2019?
Campaigning is about bringing together people with a range of different views, backgrounds and experiences to rally behind a common goal, which I have done effectively in my Trade Union role where I am required to communicate effectively both in person and online. In my roles I have been required to interact with Union members and members of the public. I routinely speak at FBU annual national conference and have spoken at Labour Regional Conference when moving motions or speaking with regards to others motions.
I have undertaken a number of radio and television interviews on issues such as pensions, fire cuts, police and crime commissioners and written internal articles.
All of these experiences have given me the skills to be able to communicate effectively on a regular basis.
Having wide and varied life experiences, strong family links and strong friendships, I believe helps me to be someone people can relate to. I am comfortable conversing as equally with those in my age demographic and background as I am with those younger and older. I have a wide and varied social circle which has allowed me to listen and see the world through many different lenses.
Therefore I believe it is important to be able to be genuine and comfortable in a range of social circles, to have the confidence to challenge pre-conceptions and reshape them through dialogue, and to be able to adapt, innovate and bring people together.
It is how I try to live my life and it’s how I will conduct my election campaign.
Q. How is Labour going to win the election?
I believe we need to offer a palpable vision for the constituents of Suffolk Coastal and all voters across the nation. Labour must effectively delineate the choice of a brighter future. Labours vision must clearly outline policy for investment into communities as a core priority.
We must effectively articulate that Labour will rebuild Britain’s communities from the devastation and destruction of 9 years of Tory rule. Safeguarding the environment, improving workers’ rights and conditions in law, providing the housing, services and jobs that our communities need.
As a frontline Firefighter for nearly a decade, I’m a great advocate of the power teamwork. By strengthening the sense of community and common endeavour, we can work together to build upon that fantastic platform of the 2017 manifesto.
With enthusiasm, drive, commitment and unity we will deliver this.