In Conversation with: Dame Margaret Hodge MP, Member of Parliament for Barking
Dame Margaret Hodge MP
One of the things that hit me very much about Britain as I grew up here was how class divided we were so, that urge to promote the equalising of life opportunities has been a huge driver in my life.
I think it’s because I am an immigrant, that’s always made me a bit of an outsider so, struggling to be accepted and campaigning for that.
I was an absolutely vile teenager so I was sent off to boarding school and I walked into this sort of situation in the classroom with absolute class division and it was the first time I had met it so that, again, made me feel ‘Oh my God, I don’t feel part of this class system. I don’t fit in anywhere’ and I think that strengthened my determination and my values around equality.
I really do believe that it’s important that as politicians we don’t sort of get submerged into the Westminster bubble, politics is so important to all our lives and if you really want to reconnect and build trust, you have to actually listen to your local community.
Working with the leading Conservative, Andrew Mitchell, between us we built a majority in Parliament which forced the Government to introduce a really key transparency measure. All our overseas territories, that is the British tax havens, places like the British Virgin Islands and others will have to have public registers of beneficial ownership which will enable us to see who owns what/where and will then able us to follow the money so that you can root out aggressive tax avoidance and, of course, economic crime like money laundering.
Anti-Semitism is still rife in the Labour Party, it’s moved from the fringes to the mainstream, and I never, ever thought that I would have to spend any of my political life fighting anti-Semitism within the party that I joined because I saw it as an anti-racist, pro-equality, fostering internationalism, that sort of a party.
I think there is still a long way to go before there’s a real understanding of the way in which really leading members of our party, including our leader, think that anti-Semitism is the acceptable face of racism.
As a woman I hope that I can encourage more women to feel that politics is a place that they think that they can contribute through their life work – I want to change the world, I’m part of that Sixties generation that believes we can.