It has been an extraordinary privilege to represent Sheffield Central in Parliament since I was first elected in 2010. It’s a great city which has been home for most of my life, since moving here at the age of nine.
It was the injustice of racism that first got me involved in politics when I was still at school. I joined the Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM) to campaign for democracy and human rights for all the people of South Africa. Sheffield AAM, which I set up, became the UK’s biggest anti-apartheid group and I was part of the Movement’s national leadership for 25 years.
Challenging inequality and injustice led me to join the Labour Party in 1978. I haven’t agreed with every Labour policy over the years, but believe passionately that our values of fairness and equality have never been more important. I was Chair of Sheffield Labour Party for 15 years from 1993 and am incredibly proud of Labour’s achievements in government.
Before my election in 2010, I was General Manager of the University of Sheffield’s award-winning Students’ Union, with responsibility for 800 staff and an annual turnover of £11 million. I was the Chair of the Sheffield City Trust between 1997 and 2008, responsible for all of Sheffield’s major leisure and sports facilities including Pond’s Forge and the Arena – together with the City Hall, for which we secured the £12.5 million investment to save it from closure and refurbish it.
I stood for Parliament in 2010 for the first time because I wanted to find new ways of connecting people with politics. I launched an annual Big Conversation, produce a monthly report on my activities, publish my weekly diary online, organise regular trips to Parliament, and am frequently out knocking on constituents’ doors. I’ve taken on a number of jobs in Parliament, but listening to constituents is what drives my politics because it tells me the issues that need to be raised in Westminster.
I led a successful cross-party campaign to regulate payday lenders, for which I was voted Citizens Advice MP of the Year in 2014.
With more students than any other MP, and representing both of Sheffield’s universities, I am active on higher education and was voted the Guardian Inspiring Higher Education leader of 2015.
I’m married to Linda McAvan, who was a Labour Member of the European Parliament for Yorkshire and Humber until 2019, and I have a son who lives in London with his wife and son. I am a member of the Co-op Party, Unite and the GMB – and a lifelong season ticket holder at Bramall Lane.