Hello, I’m Kerry McCarthy.
I’m delighted and proud to represent the constituents of Bristol East in Parliament. I was first elected in 2005, and was re-elected in 2010, 2015, 2017 and 2019, making me the longest-serving of Bristol’s current MPs by some distance.
I grew up in Luton, one of six children, attending a local comprehensive school and the sixth form college. Before I became an MP I worked mostly in the legal profession – I studied Russian, Politics and Linguistics at University and then went to law college and qualified as a solicitor – and on political campaigns. I was also an elected councillor for five years.
Current parliamentary work
In April 2020 I was asked by Keir Starmer to join his frontbench as shadow Green Transport Minister. My brief includes the decarbonisation of transport, active travel (ie cycling and walking), Brexit and roads policy.
I’m active in a number of All-Party Parliamentary Groups – ranging from the APPGs on Agroecology, Climate Change, Oceans Conservation and Net Zero, to Music, Theatre and Snooker! I also play an active role in some of the country APPGs – such as Tibet, Belize and Somaliland – and I’m now setting up an APPG on the Small Island Developing States, specifically with a view to lobbying for their interests to be represented at COP26, the UN Climate Talks being hosted by the UK later this year.
I’m not a musician, but I’m a member of the Musicians Union, and a patron of the Music Venue Trust. I also belong to SERA (Labour’s Environment Campaign), LAWS (Labour Animal Welfare Society), the SHA (Socialist Health Association), the Co-op Party, and support organisations like Greenpeace, the Wildlife Trusts and Compassion in World Farming.
Over the years I’ve introduced a number of backbench bills – including my current Supported Housing (Regulation) Bill, which has recently led to the Government setting up pilot schemes to investigate the scale of the problem in the supported housing sector, and whether regulation is needed.
I’ve previously introduced two Food Waste Bills and set up/ chaired the Food Waste APPG to campaign for the issue to be given greater priority in Government policy, which is now happening. I’m also an officer of the APPGs
on School Food and the National Food Strategy, and helped set up Feeding Bristol, which has done so much to alleviate food poverty in our city.
I’m well-known for being a vegan. It will be 30 years by the end of 2021; a rare example of making a New Year’s Resolution and sticking to it. I’ve spoken frequently in Parliament about the links between our food system and the environment, and I’m pleased that these arguments – for which I was once roundly ridiculed! – are now gaining common currency.
Some years ago I introduced a Kinship Care Bill, to highlight the contributions and sacrifices made by people who have taken on the children of family members or friends who are unable to look after them anymore, and I’m still a member of the Kinship Care Taskforce, which continues to press the Government on these issues.
I’ve held a number of other frontbench posts during my time in Parliament. During the last Labour Government I served as PPS to Douglas Alexander in the Department for International Development, and then became a Government Whip. When Labour went into Opposition in 2010 I became a shadow Treasury Minister, before spending four years in the shadow Foreign Affairs team, where I had, inter alia, the human rights and climate change briefs. From 2015 to 2016 I was Labour’s shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.
I’ve also served on a number of Select Committees. When I was first elected in 2005 I spent a couple of years on the Treasury Select Committee, reflecting my past experience working as a lawyer in the City, and in the last Parliament I was Vice Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee and a member of the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs Select Committee.