I became the Member of Parliament for Wirral South, where I was born and grew up, on 6 May 2010. Since my election I have been appointed Private Parliamentary Secretary to Rt Hon Gordon Brown MP. This means I assist him with his parliamentary and other roles as a former Prime Minister. I am also a member of the Select Committee on International Development. Since my election, I’ve taken part in two Finance bill committees (enacting Budget measures), and two other bill committees relating to financial matters.
I’m leading a group of people working to open the Bromborough Dock Landfill site as a public park, and have worked with traders in New Ferry, Bromborough and Heswall to promote local economic development in Wirral. I write occasionally on the economy and government for Progress and the Fabians and have a regular column in the Wirral News.
I was born in Clatterbridge hospital in December 1980. My dad was a telecomms engineer for British Rail, and my mum was a nurse. We lived in Brookhurst Avenue, Bromborough, but moved round the corner to Allport Road a few years later. I have an older sister and a younger brother, and we all attended Brookhurst Primary, and then Wirral Grammar School.
After graduating from University College London with a degree in Philosophy, I worked in the House of Commons as a researcher. However, I was keen to experience the world outside politics, and left to join Network Rail, where I handled communications for the first new station in South London since the war, and many other large engineering projects. My time there coincided with Network Rail’s expansion of its apprenticeships programme, and I am proud to have met some of the UK’s future great railway engineers.
In 2006, I was elected to serve as a Labour councillor for Camberwell, my locality in London. I was concerned that my local swimming pool – a beautiful but crumbling Victorian Baths – would be forced to close. Following a huge petition, photo shoots with local children, and visits from the government sports minister, the campaign won the day, with a £4.5million redevelopment package agreed.I also became a trustee of the leading edge contemporary art gallery – the South London Gallery, and I oversaw a £1.8m investment in a new education, gallery and cafe space.
Having grown up with the exciting music scene in Liverpool and as Councillor for a creative hub like Camberwell, I caught the culture bug, and eventually went to work for The Art Fund and then Creativity, Culture and Education, which helps young people to achieve their potential in and through the arts.
My family has been an inspiration to me. My late grandfather, Peter McGovern, who died in 2006, was a Liverpool folk singer, writing the city’s anthem, ‘In My Liverpool Home’. He ran the folk club ‘The Washhouse’ where he once topped the bill over American singer, Paul Simon. Peter was also a long serving trade unionist and secretary of the Merseyside Pensioner’s Association and spent most of his life campaigning (at meetings and in song) for the dignity of working people to have a good life and retirement.
My mum, Ann, set up Stepping Stones with other women, a not-for-profit pre-school, when there was no Government support for child care before school, and my Dad, Mike, spent many years campaigning for better working conditions with his trade union. In 2008 I married Ashwin Kumar, an economics consultant, and we have one daughter.