North East Born and Bred
I’m standing to be mayor of the North East because I want everyone to have the chance to succeed in the region I love.
This region and a Labour Government gave my family and thousands of others the help we needed to escape hardship and succeed. By empowering our communities, I know we can do that again.
Despite my overwhelming pride in our region and its people, I’ll always be honest about the challenges we face.
I grew up in the West End of Newcastle. My dad was a scaffolder. He worked on the shipyards on the Tyne. My mam worked part time as a secretary at a small insurance broker but was made redundant when the company went under in the recession in the early 90s.
My parents shielded us from how hard it was and made sure we had a carefree childhood, but my dad was made redundant every autumn, was out of work over Christmas, sometimes three months, sometimes as long as five. The benefits system, then as now, was paltry and my nana and granda helped us – because that’s what northern families had to do under Thatcher’s Tories.
With the Labour Government in 1997 we felt the change. There were more opportunities, and investment came into the region. I became the first person in my extended family to go to university- just like so many other working class kids of my generation.
Now I live in Northumberland with my Husband David, a serving RAF officer and our dogs Errol and Iris.
For too many working class people, those dark Tory days are back. I’m standing to be mayor because I think we have to do more to help people improve those lives, to create real opportunity and stand by those households. Right now, devolution simply doesn’t mean anything to most people in our region, it brings no benefit to them.
I want to be the mayor who puts them first. For me, it won’t be an ideological experiment and I’ll prioritise delivering Labour values and a Labour Government, not factional Labour party spats.
As your Labour Police and Crime Commissioner I’ve focused on relentlessly delivering for our region. I became the first in the country to make fighting the effects of poverty and deprivation central to our plans to prevent crime. I’ve delivered hundreds more police officers, invested in young people, backed youth services and healthy role models and funded the Community Hubs that are bringing back Sure Start by stealth. I know how to use the limited funds the Tories give us to invest directly in our communities.
But creating real opportunity, creating good local jobs, is just part of the story for why I’m standing to be mayor.
I’m standing because my pride for this region means I’m fed-up of seeing us stuck behind Manchester or Leeds, let alone London. Regional pride and ambition should be central to what a mayor is about; they should be a national advocate for our great North East. Our region has the potential to be the UK home of culture, arts, creativity and opportunity – yet we don’t have the voice we deserve, out there, shouting about it.
I want to be the Mayor for a North East where everyone thrives, not just those already at the top. Where we go beyond net zero with climate change policies that change lives. Where there is a good home for everyone, whether you rent or own and a well-paid job enjoyed by a skilled workforce backed by strong trade unions. Where public transport is safe, reliable, affordable – and publicly owned.
It's time our North East rose out of adversity with pride.