Photo by Louise Haywood-Scieffer
Photo by Louise Haywood-Scieffer

Hello, I’m Kerry McCarthy,

I’m delighted to be standing to represent the constituents of Bristol East for a sixth time. 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. After the Prime Minister dissolved Parliament on the 30th I’m no longer an MP but will be standing in the General Election on Thursday 4th July.

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.

Previous parliamentary work

In June 2022 I was appointed by Keir Starmer as shadow Minister for Climate Change. This means I was part of the frontbench Climate Change and Net Zero team led by Ed Miliband. I worked on Labour’s Green Prosperity Plan, international climate change, and issues like the circular economy, green finance, energy bills and nature-based solutions. This built on the work done in my previous role as shadow Minister for Green and Future Transport, where I led on transport decarbonisation.

I’ve played an active role in quite a few All-Party Parliamentary Groups, including country groups for Tibet, Russia, Jordan and Somaliland, and the APPGs on Music and Snooker (the latter partly because of Bristol’s historic connection with the sport but also because I do actually watch it!)

I’m a member of the Musicians Union – although I’m not a musician – and a patron of the Music Venue Trust. I also belong to SERA (Labour’s Environment Campaign), LAWS (Labour Animal Welfare Society) and the Co-op Party, and support organisations like Greenpeace, the Wildlife Trusts and Compassion in World Farming. Most recently I’ve helped set up LCEF, the Labour Climate and Environment Forum.

Over the years I’ve introduced a number of backbench bills – including my Supported Housing (Regulation) Bill, which led to the Government publishing a statement of national expectations and setting up pilot schemes to investigate the scale of the problem in the supported housing sector, and whether regulation was needed. Since then there has been a Select Committee inquiry and another backbench bill which seems to have Government support so stands a good chance of becoming law.

Another bill I brought forward was the 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. More recently I’ve served on the Parliamentary Taskforce on Kinship Care.

I’ve previously introduced two Food Waste Bills and set up/ chaired a Food Waste APPG to campaign for the issue to be given greater priority in Government policy, which is now happening. I’ve also been an officer of the APPG on School Food, 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 and for being the first MP to make a speech about it in the House of Commons. It will be 34 years on 1/1/25; 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.

Past work

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.

 

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