My Story

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I was born in London and have lived here all my life. My wife’s a Londoner too and we’re raising our two daughters here. Our family story is one of how London has helped us succeed.

My parents moved to London from Pakistan in the 1960s. My dad got a decent job as a bus driver and my parents were able to get an affordable council home so they could save a deposit to buy a place of their own. 

My brothers, sister and I all got a fantastic state-school education in Tooting and the opportunity to go on to higher or further education without having to run up huge debts. I got a university place based on my talent rather than my ability to pay. My brother got a high-quality apprenticeship. 

As a human rights lawyer, I defended people who were discriminated against, and ended up helping run a firm of 50 employees. I saw first-hand the impact discrimination can have on people’s lives - and this has made me determined to fight it wherever I see it. The Human Rights Act is one of the Labour Party’s proudest achievements and it apalls me that the Tories want to scrap it.

In 2005 I was elected MP for Tooting and it was one of the proudest moments of my life. To represent the area where you grew up is a great privilege and one I have relished.

My first ministerial post was as Minister for Community Cohesion, working with people of all faiths to promote greater understanding, including tackling anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. 

As Minister of Transport I became the first Muslim and first Asian to attend Cabinet. I was Crossrail Minister and helped ensure the project, which is vital to London’s transport needs, became a reality.

I headed up the Labour Party campaign in London in the 2015 General Election. On what was a dark day for Labour across the country, in London we actually increased our vote and won seats from both the Tories and the Liberal Democrats.

My life is not all politics. I spend as much time as I can with my family and I’m lucky enough that my brothers and sister all still live near me in South London so I can see them quite a lot.

I am also a big sports fan, especially football, boxing and cricket. I ran the 2014 London Marathon, and I’m pleased to have raised more than £20,000 for the Evening Standard's Dispossessed Fund in doing so.

 

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