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Meeting People:
Tulip Siddiq, MP for Hampstead and Kilburn

Meeting People

Knowing me, knowing you

Can you briefly introduce yourself and tell us about your current role?

I’ve been the MP for my home constituency of Hampstead & Kilburn since 2015. I currently serve as Shadow Economic Secretary to the Treasury, which focuses on financial services, and have previously been Shadow Children & Early Years Minister.

How did your career path lead you to the industry?

I became politicised as a teenager watching the incredible staff of the NHS support my father through illness. I knew then that I wanted to spend my life fighting for social justice and protecting access to public services; I joined the Labour Party as a teenager and decided early on that I wanted to work in politics.

I went on to get involved with student politics at university and then local election campaigns, eventually becoming a councillor. One of the most special and formative experiences in my early career was working on the 2008 Obama campaign in Ohio. I’ve also worked in the charity and human rights sector and for politicians like Oona King, Tessa Jowell and Ed Miliband.

The ups and downs

What has been the most impactful project you’ve worked on or the project you’re most proud of?

Definitely the campaign to free Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe after she was illegally detained by the Iranian regime. My team and I worked tirelessly to lobby the Government on behalf of Nazanin and her husband, Richard, and I met with several Foreign Secretaries and Ministers to urge action. This was a long battle and at times it felt we were making little headway, but when I bump into Nazanin and her family on the high street, I am reminded every time of how rewarding this job can be, as tough as it sometimes feels.

What’s been the biggest challenge you have faced in your career and how did you overcome it?

When I stood for my seat in 2015, the Labour majority won by Glenda Jackson was the most marginal in the country, only forty-two votes. Glenda had represented the area since 1992 and was a real icon, with great name recognition. I was really concerned that I would struggle to achieve a majority given how close it had been in the last election. I worked incredibly hard, alongside an army of volunteers and activists, to reach people in the constituency, and promote my record as a councillor and as an advocate for the area in which I was raised.

Crystal ball gazing

What are your predictions for the housing sector over the next decade?

Speaking to younger residents in Hampstead and Kilburn, it is clear that there is a real shortage of affordable rental accommodation for young people. Younger generations are really struggling to move out of their parents’ homes, never mind get a foothold on the property ladder.

I also support lots of constituents who live in social housing or are trying to get onto the social housing register. Unfortunately, there is both a shortage of social housing and problems with the quality of existing housing stock.

My hope is that we will see a sustained and significant expansion in construction of new affordable homes, including high quality social housing. It will take a concerted effort from the industry and from the Government to unlock more land, capital and labour in order to build the homes that we desperately need.

Cultural highlights

One film/television series, book, podcast/radio show, or song/album you like and why.

Bruce Springsteen – I’ve been obsessed with The Boss since I was a teenager and have seen him in concert in America, Finland, London, and soon Copenhagen too!

Passing the baton

What advice would you give to someone aspiring to move into a role like yours?

My early conversations with trailblazing MPs and mentors like Angela Eagle and Glenda Jackson were invaluable and I would absolutely urge women considering a career in politics to build a network of supportive women (and men).

I think many women, especially those entering politics midway through their careers, are concerned that they lack formal experience – this is not a concern that crosses the minds of many men! I would say that campaigning comes in all shapes and forms; fighting against the closure of your local library, attending PA meetings, or writing to your MP are all good experience. Do not be deterred by people who say you can’t do it.

Finally, don’t be discouraged by the fact that a life in politics is often hard, especially for women, and do your best to ignore the trolls. Working on issues that might not receive attention if not for your work, like maternity and employment rights in my case, is incredibly rewarding. Your difference (whether in gender, race, or class), inexperience, or outsider status can sometimes be a real asset; it means that you can approach old issues with fresh eyes and a healthy idealism.


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