I am the Member of Parliament for Hornsey & Wood Green and a Shadow Foreign Office Minister.
I hold a degree in Social Science and Languages and a Masters Degree in Chinese Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies, and speak five languages. I initially worked in welfare and housing, using my language skills to meet with newly arrived communities. I worked for David Lammy MP, both problem solving for Haringey residents and helping David make the case for social change in the constituency. I have taught English as a second language, including a year in Nanjing, China.
From 2010, until I stood down in October 2013, I was the leader of Islington Council. I was the Chair of London Councils’ Transport and Environment Committee and a member of the LGA Finance Panel. In 2010, I worked with Prof Wilkinson (‘The Spirit Level”) to set up the Islington Fairness Commission, leading to award winning work on the London Living Wage, the Islington student bursary scheme for young people affected by cuts to Educational Maintenance Allowance and new ways of getting youngsters into jobs and apprenticeships.
The model of Commissions has been followed by a number of different authorities throughout the country: there have been 8 further Fairness Commissions, Haringey has had an Education and a Carbon Commission and Barnet Labour is running a Housing Commission. It is a valuable model for gathering expertise and formulating evidence based policy.
In February 2013, I was awarded the ‘Local Authority Leader of the Year’ award by the Local Government Information Unit, for my work leading the Islington Fairness Commission.