The MP Interview: Bridget Phillipson

On Harold Wilson, care for the elderly, and singing Girls Aloud badly.

Bridget Phillipson, Labour MP for Houghton and Sunderland.
Bridget Phillipson, Labour MP for Houghton and Sunderland.

What made you go into politics?
I grew up in the north east and saw what happened when a government wasn't interested and didn't care. I knew that it didn't need to be that way: I knew that government can be a force for good in people's lives and communities, and I came into politics to make sure that it is.
 
What job did you do before you became an MP?
I managed a refuge for women and children fleeing domestic violence.

Which law would you scrap?
The Transport Act 1985, which deregulated bus services outside London. Strange as it may seem, bus deregulation has caused or aggravated a whole host of social problems. It has been a total failure. There are plenty of worse problems in our society but bus deregulation should be one of the easiest to fix.
 
And if you could pass one law, what would it be?
I would legislate to create a national care service for elderly people. The current system is complex, unfair and all too often based on where you live.
 
Do politics and religion mix?
My religious beliefs inform my politics, but I think it's really important political debate isn't simply about religion.
 
Who is your favourite prime minister from history, and why?
Harold Wilson. He won four general elections for Labour, kept the Party together, passed a raft of equalities legislation, created the Open University, supported regional development and all sorts of good things that people overlook.
 
Name three dream dinner-party guests.
Emily Bronte, George Orwell and Simon Cowell.
 
Which politician from a different party do you most admire?
Theresa May.
 
What’s your karaoke song of choice?
Girls Aloud. Badly.
 
What’s the last film you saw?
The Iron Lady. Skimmed over the politics unfortunately.
 
What’s the last work of fiction you read?
One Day by David Nicholls. I cried buckets.
 
Newsnight or Question Time?
Newsnight.
 
Humphrys or Paxman?
Paxman.
 
Who is your favourite blogger?
Hopi Sen.
 
Who is your favourite newspaper columnist?
Caitlin Moran.
 
If you could change one thing about your job, what would it be?
I think there is still room for change of Parliament's sitting hours - we sit for long days, short weeks, some months and not others, and I'm not sure the balance is right.

What’s the funniest or saddest thing you’ve ever heard at a surgery?

Irespect the confidences of my constituents and what they tell me at my surgeries, and I wouldn't like to break that.
 
What was your worst doorstep campaigning moment?
Getting lost and soaked to the skin in the dark on polling day in the 2008 Glenrothes by-election. The result made it worthwhile, even if it did take me a day to regain sensation in my toes.
 
Who is the most important person in your life, and why?
My husband and baby daughter.
 
Do you think you will ever be prime minister – and if not, why not?
I’ll be happy with a Labour government!