I have been North of Tyne Mayor since 2019 and am four years into my five year term. Despite the pandemic, I’ve already delivered on 92% of my manifesto pledges, including my promise to bring the region together into one single Mayoral Combined Authority.
I left school at 16, and returned to education as a mature student, gaining a degree in Engineering at Northumbria University. I went on to run my own business as a software developer. When my wife and I had kids, I wound back my business and became the main carer for our children – and loved (almost) every minute of it!
I was a member of Tyne & Wear Anti-Fascist Association, and an active campaigner against racism and fascism. I am a black belt in jiu jitsu. My commitment to the climate emergency prompted me to give up owning a car, I now cycle and use public transport – which raises a smile when I turn up at mayoral events on my bike, wearing a suit and tie! I am a White Ribbon Ambassador, the campaign to stop men’s violence against women and girls.
I didn’t become a politician until I was 48. My Dad drove a tank in the army, and was a shift worker at ICI after he left. My Mam was a youth worker, trade unionist, and set up the first Women’s Refuge from Domestic Violence in Middlesbrough.
I live in Gosforth with my wife Caroline, who’s a GP in Gateshead, who I’m still head over heels in love with after 28 years together, and my two sons, who are studying GCSEs and A-levels.
What matters above all else is that we elect a Mayor who can actually deliver for the people of the North East. I’ve given you bucketloads of evidence that I already have. Inevitably, though, people want to know: what do you believe?
I’m an engineer. Fixing broken systems is what I do.
My politics are simple – I believe Britain should be run in the interests of the people who do the work. That includes those unable to work, and those retired from a lifetime of work. It’s not left-wing. It’s not right-wing. It’s common sense.
I value patriotism – and believe it’s expressed by public service, not xenophobia. My Dad drove a tank in the army, my brother served in the navy at the time of the Falklands. My Mam set up the first Women’s Refuge from Domestic Violence in Middlesbrough.
These are policies I support, but can’t promise to deliver because they are central government matters. That said, I do lobby for them.
- Stronger democracy. People in local areas know what’s best for them.
- A fully public NHS. Roll back the creeping privatisation that extracts profit.
- Wealth Tax. Huge concentrations of wealth damage our society and hamper our economy. An annual tax of say 1% of all assets above £2 million would raise enough money to end poverty, provide free tuition, and end all NHS waiting lists.
- Common ownership of utilities. Including rail, mail, power and water. In our region alone, an American billionaire makes £135 million profit a year from Powergrid, and a Hong Kong billionaire makes around £200 million a year from Northumbrian Water. That money should stay here.
- Universal Basic Income. As artificial intelligence and self-driving vehicles develop, we face a choice. Do we let the rich get richer, or do we give everyone the financial stability to retrain, re-educate, and contribute in other ways?
- Proportional Representation. And federalism. Britain’s first past the post system is dysfunctional, and far too much power is centralised in Westminster and Whitehall.
- Repeal of repressive Trade Union laws. Not just this year’s Minimum Service Levels legislation, but all the anti-union laws of recent decades.
- Repeal of oppressive anti-freedom laws. The right to protest has now been redefined in the UK as a privilege that exists at the discretion of the police. And Prevent is not having its claimed effect, but engenders racism and discrimination.
- Free tuition. Education is an investment in society. Tuition fees – and the outrageous interest rates on them – are saddling young people with decades of debt. Poorer families are paying more than affluent ones.
- Regulation of the media. Full implementation of the Leveson recommendations. The billionaire press is no friend of progressive movements, and undermines our collective future.
- I’m also a White Ribbon Ambassador, and have made the North of Tyne a White Ribbon organisation. This is the campaign to get men to take a stand against other men who use, excuse, or remain silent about men’s violence against women.