Richard Burgon – East Leeds and Proud of it

East Leeds and Proud of it

I couldn’t be prouder to represent our area down in Parliament.
I’m from East Leeds and my family have lived and worked here in East Leeds for a hundred years, ever since arriving from Ireland looking for work. My family first lived on ‘the Bank’, then in Gipton and I live in Crossgates. My grandparents worked at Burtons and my granddad was on the founding committee of Gipton Working Men’s Club. Before becoming an MP, for 10 years I was a trade union lawyer here in Leeds, representing workers in Leeds who had been unfairly sacked, not had their wages paid or who had been treated badly by their bosses.

richard-burgon-leedsI think there aren’t enough MPs who are from – and live in – the area they represent. I believe that’s one of the reasons that so many people have become cheesed off with ‘politics’: people have started to see MPs not as people who emerge naturally from their local communities to represent those communities but as people who appear in an area they don’t know in order to use that areas as a springboard to a national political ‘career’. When you look at the history of Leeds politics over the past hundred years, only a tiny minority of Leeds MPs have been people who have been from – and have grown up in – Leeds. I’m proud to be one of them. But, as a ‘Loiner’, I feel it’s a real shame that over the past hundred years there haven’t been more. Leeds is a huge city that is full of talent, experience and conviction and can’t be short of people willing and able to represent their own community down in Parliament!

People often ask me what the working life of an MP is like. I don’t view it as a ‘job’ or a ‘career’, I view it as a vocation. But the bit of being an MP that takes most getting used to is having to split my week between working down in Parliament and working here in East Leeds. I thoroughly enjoy my work in Parliament on behalf of our area but I’m always glad when the train pulls back into Leeds! Providing regular advice sessions for constituents is important to me and keeps me in touch with people’s issues, concerns and problems.

Parliament could do with more common sense and less ego. I believe that we should move out of the Palace of Westminster and in to a modern building. I believe the grand richard-burgon-2surroundings of the Palace of Westminster contributes to some MPs having too high an opinion of themselves and makes some of them view ‘politics’ as a fancy pursuit for them and not for so-called ‘ordinary’ people. I think politics shouldn’t be left to ‘politicians’. And I believe that having Parliament in a modern building (perhaps between Leeds and Bradford?) would bring some MPs back down to earth. And the Palace of Westminster would make a fantastic museum about our ongoing journey towards a more democratic way of doing things!

It would be dishonest to write this article without being up front about my politics. I’m a socialist and proud to be one. The creation of our NHS is the best example of socialist principles being put into practice here in Britain. And I believe that East Leeds doesn’t get a fair crack of the whip from the current way of doing things, economically and politically. It was bankers – not people here in East Leeds – who caused the global economic crisis. And it makes me angry to see a Government of millionaires making East Leeds pay the price for a financial crisis that people here in East Leeds did not cause. Things need to change. And that change needs to be won by people here in East Leeds and the length and breadth of the country – not just MPs!

Richard Burgon is the Labour MP for East Leeds and the Shadow Justice Secretary in Labour’s Shadow Cabinet. You can contact him on 0113 2323266, richard@richardburgon.com and follow him on Twitter (@richardburgon) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/RichardBurgonMP). His website can be found at www.richardburgon.com

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