As the great music hall comedian Dan Leno, a former resident of Lambeth (Akerman Road, SW9 since you ask) said, ‘I came into the world a mere child, without a rag to my back, and without a penny in my pocket.’
And so, dear reader, did I. Yet, as Leno also said, ‘There is nothing exceptional about being born. Birth is something that comes to all of us sooner or later.’ So there we are. And here I am.
Fast forward through three of Shakespeare’s seven ages of man (puking infant, whining schoolboy, sighing lover), and you will find me being re-elected as a Lambeth Labour councillor in May 2010, following a by-election win in October 2005 and the all-out elections in 2006 when Lambeth was the only Labour gain in the country. I suppose being a Lambeth councillor is as near as I get to Shakespeare’s fourth age – ‘a soldier, full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard, jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel, seeking the bubble reputation even in the cannon’s mouth’. I’m bearded like the pard, anyway. I’m also 42 and represent Streatham South ward, together with two Labour colleagues, who are not bearded like the pard.
Labour regained control of Lambeth in May 2006, after four years in opposition to a Lib Dem Tory alliance. We then achieved an historic Labour second term – the first for more than a generation – in May 2010.
After two years as Cabinet Member for Community Safety in the Labour administration, I spent a year as Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport. I then went back to being Cabinet Member for Community Safety again. Following the 2010 elections I decided to stand down from the Lambeth Cabinet to allow others a chance to progress. I’m now happily a backbencher, pursuing a range of interests, from almshouses to animal welfare. I’ve lived in Streatham for thirteen years and I’m proud of my family’s varied roots in London, Berkshire and the South East. I’m also a governor of the successful Dunraven School in Streatham. I joined the Labour Party in the early 1990s, when John Smith was leader, and I was a student.
I have written articles on politics for the Guardian, New Statesman, Total Politics, Tribune and on other subjects, including cinema and theatre, for other publications. I was a co-editor of The Blair Years, Alastair Campbell’s diaries, and continue to edit further volumes.
This blog is not solely about politics, just as I’m not solely about politics. It’s a mix of things that interest me.