I am Chair of West Berks Branch of Reading West Labour Party and have been a Labour member since October 2015. I am also a Unite member. I grew up on the edge of the New Forest, went to University in Guildford and moved to Reading to work for Foster Wheeler (now called “Wood”) as a graduate engineer in 2004. I have lived in Reading West, first in Tilehurst, then in Tidmarsh, for more than 10 years. I have an established public and community profile, especially in the newly-Labour-friendly wards such as Pangbourne and in Theale where I have been deeply involved in the campaign for a new primary school.
As West Berks Chair I have helped the small but brilliant team to significantly develop our online presence and increase campaigning activity to include sufficient regular canvassing to cover our 14,000 doors before the next local elections. The West Berks Branch covers six wards, containing 45% of the electorate for Reading West. Our wards delivered one third of the Labour vote in the 2017 General Election, and will be crucial battle grounds for Labour in the next General Election. Thanks to our demanding canvassing schedule and the huge amount of campaigning we achieved during the last general election I know almost every street in our broad area and am very familiar with the diverse local issues facing West Berks residents. I have also campaigned within the Reading Borough wards on numerous occasions.
As I was growing up it seemed that the great challenges of our time were pollution and climate change (my home was safe, I had enough to eat and a good education, and did not yet know that this made me very lucky, even in the UK). Before starting University I took a gap year, first teaching ballet, then volunteering alongside the UNDP in Zambia. There I saw severe poverty, environmental damage and their effect on the health and life chances of local people.
I have always been fascinated by how the world around me works, which naturally led me into science and engineering as a way to combat pollution and climate change. I now have what I expected to be my “dream job” whereby the UK government, and major power and oil companies like BP, seek my advice on how to produce cleaner electricity, how we can heat our homes sustainably and how to reduce the carbon footprint of the industries we currently depend on far too much, like transport fuels, cement and steel production. But doing this “dream job” has achieve much to solve those great challenges and it is the UK government which has been my greatest source of frustration. I have come to the painful understanding that they are not governing in the interests of the people, or the planet, and that actually money and politics are “how the world around us works”. The current government simply don’t care about governing a sustainable country, and cannot afford to let them continue to play at politics any longer. We need a Labour Government which is serious about changing the current political status quo with a radical and reforming agenda which can deliver real solutions to the challenges and hardships that face our people, their health and well-being and the economy that should support us all.
I firmly believe that Labour can win the next General Election and that Reading West will be one of the seats to change hands. The MP for Reading West will need to not only be the fantastic constituency MP which we have so sorely missed since 2010, but will need to be ready to join the new Labour Government. I have experience working with government departments and seeing directly the damage done by short-term, poor decision making resulting in huge losses to our economy, skills, and people’s lives. My job is to analyse complex challenges and to arrive at practical, holistic solutions. These skills will be essential for Reading West’s next Labour MP as well as for your candidate, and I would be deeply honoured, if you, my fellow members, were to select me for that role.