Ten years ago today I was elected as the Member of Parliament for Stalybridge & Hyde (and Mossley, Longdendale and half of Dukinfield!). It is the greatest honour of my life to represent my home area, nestled uniquely between the industrial heritage and thriving opportunities of Manchester and the beautiful rolling hills of the Peaks and the Pennines.
I’m grateful every day for the chance to work to make a difference. Back then I pledged I would work to improve quality of care at Tameside hospital, deliver the Mottram bypass, support our schools to help every child thrive, and always stand up for rail and bus users. I didn’t know my whole first decade would be under Tory governments, but I am none the less proud of the progress we have made on all these issues.
I have been a national champion for autism awareness; a tireless advocate of British manufacturing; and a consistent campaigner for electoral reform. I’m also proud to have helped remove some of the worst derelict buildings from our town centres and secured investment to begin regenerating them; to have supported the first ever special educational needs sixth form provision in the constituency; and to have completed the Parliamentary Armed Forces Scheme, helping me stand up for our service women and men with a greater degree if understanding.
In my maiden speech I said areas like ours need governments to be “tough on poverty, and tough on the causes of poverty”. Now the Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, I have never lost my vigour for this central mission, and continue to hold the government to account, especially on child poverty, whilst formulating thorough and ambitious policies for a better alternative under Labour.
On a personal level, I’ve had three more children during this time, and my little boy of 7 then is now a strapping lad of 17. I couldn’t do this job without the support of my family, my brilliant little team of staff, my wonderful local Labour Party, and my many faithful friends. Thank you each of you. Making our area a thriving economy that’s a joy to live in is my daily driver. Together, we will.