Two years as an MP

Houses of ParliamentSo – two years ago this weekend I was elected to Parliament. Thank you, thank you – to the voters of Hornsey & Wood Green. It has been and is the most phenomenal honour to serve. It’s a crazy job. There’s no time off virtually – but fighting for the things that matter to local people is where I started and where I still am. It is an extraordinary thing to be able to stand on the floor of the chamber of the House of Commons and have a voice in the debates and issues of our times (when and if Mr Speaker’s eye falls on me!).

But this job isn’t just about Parliament. It’s about what comes through my surgery door, what people write (or email, or ring, or fax…) to me about, what people say on my visits and meetings round the constituency – and above all what people’s experiences are at the coalface of where legislation and regulation meet real people and real lives.

It’s still about fighting for better health services – from Hornsey Hospital to the Government’s top-slicing of the budgets for Primary Care Trusts – which here means family planning and sexual health clinics cut. It means local campaigns supporting local campaigners and – at Parliament – it’s about tackling Patricia Hewitt to get money for Hornsey Hospital.

It’s about fighting against the unwanted planning applications – such as from London Concrete Factory for Cranford Way – succeeding with local campaigners at the first stage, but losing the appeal to Her Majesty’s Planning Inspector. Hence, my speech in Parliament and writings about the need to revise the planning system so that it is fairer to both sides and better rooted in what the local impact of a decision really will be.

Crime continues to be a major issue from Wood Green to Highgate – so it’s about continuing to argue for the full Safer Neighbourhood Teams (having fought for years to get the teams) and the preservation of our local police station presence and front counters. At Parliament it’s me asking the Leader of the House in Business Questions for a full debate on gang culture and gun and knife crime. Here in the constituency, it is me going into Woodside School to spend the morning with police and an acting troupe to engage with the young people on knife crime.

On the environment – and climate change in particular – locally it include my Liberal Democrat colleagues and I campaigning for business recycling. Whilst we (thanks to years of local campaigning) are now able mostly to be green with our doorstep collections (except blimey they’ve just stopped collecting our plastic cartons – why?) – but at Parliament it was about being able to stand up and speak in the Climate Change debate to demand that the Government bring forward a Climate Change Bill.

All these and many, many more issues. And then there are the visits to events all over the constituency. I have visited every secondary school, some more than once and many of the primary schools, community visits, visits to local businesses to encourage and congratulate, job centres, libraries, sporting events, awards, a couple of dinners, celebrating green flag events, fun runs and street parties and on and on. All a delight.

And then there are the meetings – with council staff, with the Health Trust, with the Chief Executive of the local hospital, the police, the Council Leader etc and my work with the local Lib Dem councillors who are all fighting on the ground for their ward constituents against the mess Labour so often makes of running Haringey Council – running still run roughshod over local people with consultations which are often meaningless.

And then there is surgery – when people come to see me in person (or I visit them in their homes if they can’t get to me), so often with heart-rending stories that remind me continually how much there is to fight for and how motivated I am to fight for those who need help against the great machines of bureaucracy, forms and rules.

I could go on, and on, and on – but just wanted to try and illustrate how it all links up and how I try and represent what comes at me (at the rate of about 50 people a day – usually by letter, email or in person), whether that means taking up the issue at Westminster, in the constituency or indeed anywhere else where it can be helped or solved. And then there are all the other things MPs doing involving scrutinising legislation, holding ministers to account and so on…

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