I have had the honour of representing Wansbeck in Parliament from 2010 & was re-elected in 2015 with an increased majority of 10,881. Before I was elected as an MP, I was proud to serve the former Wansbeck District as an elected Councillor. I have called Northumberland home my entire life, and this wonderful County is the only area I would ever want to represent in Parliament.
After I left school, I enrolled on to a Youth Training Scheme in the construction Industry, before gaining employment at Lynemouth Colliery. I later transferred to Ellington Colliery where I was granted a National Coal Board apprenticeship.
As with so many in my generation, I was politicised by the 1984-85 Miners Strike, where I saw how the full power of the state, press and industry was deployed against coalfield communities. During this period I also saw the spirit of comradeship, collectiveness and solidarity that helped keep communities together.
After the strike, I became more active in the Labour and Trade Union movement, going on to become the first Cabinet Chairman of Wansbeck District Council. I became the General Secretary for the National Union of Mineworkers (Northumberland area).
Since becoming an MP I have worked to represent my constituency, especially those who have fallen victim to unjust legislation.
Throughout my career I have dedicated a great deal of time to voluntary societies, and as a result I have the honour of holding many honorary positions. I am a Trustee of the Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation in the North East area, the Northumberland Aged Mineworkers' Homes Association, the Hirst Welfare Centre and the Woodhorn Colliery Museum. In addition to these, I am a Patron of Headway for South East Northumberland and Chair of both Ashington Community Football Club and the Hirst Welfare Centre. I am also Chairman and trustee of the world famous Pitman Painters.
Since the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party, I have served as Shadow Cabinet Office Minister and as the Labour Party spokesperson for Trade Unions.
My membership of a range of APPGs (All Party Parliamentary Groups) allows me to better represent causes particularly relevant to my experiences and my constituents, such as promoting the regeneration of former coalfield areas and chairing the occupational safety & health group. I am also a member of a number of trade union groups and was proud to be elected as Chairman of the Trade Union Group of Labour MPs.
In my spare time, I thoroughly enjoy sport; in the main football, cricket and boxing in addition to being a keen Greyhound owner.
I married my wife Hilary in 1986 & have two sons, Ian Jnr and Liam.