unionstogether are getting to know some our newest Labour MPs with a quick fire interview. Next up is Wes Streeting, elected in May 2015:
Name: Wes Streeting.
Constituency: Ilford North.
Role in Parliament: Member of the Treasury Select Committee.
How would you summarise your role in one sentence or less: To stand up for the people of Ilford North and scrutinise the Treasury and its decisions.
Who is your favourite MP in Parliament (now or throughout history): Jess Phillips today – straight talking, passionate and a good socialist. Love her to bits.
What did you do before becoming an MP: Worked for charities that aimed to help children from disadvantaged backgrounds to achieve their potential, something that matters to me as someone who grew up on a council estate in East London.
After a long day in Parliament what is the first thing you like to do when you get home: Say hello to my partner and catch up on TV boxsets.
What’s your most and least favourite part of being out on the #labourdoorstep: I most enjoy how surprised people are when I knock despite there being no election, they are always pleased to know I want to hear what they think about issues. My least favourite is probably the temperature in the winter! But I’ve brought some new gloves to help with that.
When you heard that you had won in May what was your first thought: Complete and utter disbelief. It was also incredibly bittersweet, I saw friends who should have won miss out and big figures in our party were lost. It was a very sobering night.
Who was the first person you wanted to tell: I was really lucky that I had my family and close friends with me, so they all found out within seconds of me finding out.
Have you ever held a position in a union: I was lucky to be President of the National Union of Students, which gave us plenty of opportunities to work with trade unions around issues affecting students and staff, that’s a relationship I know continues today.
What was the most rewarding part: Helping to lead a campaign ahead of the general election in 2010 which had politicians sign up to pledge not to raise tuition fees. I think it was vital in holding MPs to account and I was glad to see the NUS follow up on this in the 2015 election.
What is your favourite TV show: X Factor or Game of Thrones.
Food: You can’t beat fish and chips from Hi Tide in Barkingside!
What’s your next campaign going to be about: I’m preparing for an adjournment debate on finance for student nurses as I write this – the government want to take away the NHS bursaries which cover their tuition fees and maintenance and saddle them with at least £51,000 in debt, which I think is wrong. I’m working with Unison and the NUS on this.
What was the main reason you wanted to become a Labour MP: I really want to help people and champion my local community where I live, and one of the best ways to do that is as the MP. I also want to play my part in getting Labour back into government so we can start making a real difference to the lives of people up and down the country.
What has been the strangest thing to get used to since you were elected: I occasionally get people coming up to me in Tesco to shake my hand and say hello. It’s always very welcome, but something that didn’t really happen before I was elected, so it can catch you off guard!
Have you come across any weird parliamentary rules that you didn’t know before and if so what were they: I’m still learning so I’m sure there are a few yet to discover, but I didn’t realise that you couldn’t refer to people watching in the public gallery. Random.
What would you say to TU activists who were thinking about joining the Labour Party: Do it and get stuck in. The Labour party always welcomes new members who believe in our aims and values, and we already have a bond with trade unions which goes back to the formation of the party.
If you were PM for the day what law would you introduce: I would introduce a law to give free school breakfasts to children. I did some work with magic breakfast and it was shocking how many children don’t eat until lunchtime, which has massive impacts on their education and development. Everybody finds it hard to focus when they are hungry, and it’s a scandal that this still happens to children in Britain today.
Who or what is your main political inspiration: My nan. She was a Labour Party member and activist for tenants’ rights and anti-racism in Wapping.
Anything else you'd like our readers to know: A great Denis Healey quote: “There are far too many people who want to luxuriate complacently in moral righteousness in opposition… We are not a debating society. We are not a socialist Sunday school. We are a great movement that wants to help people at the present time. We shall never be able to help them unless we get power.”