Labour's Jo Cox: All Parties Need To Work Together To Solve The Social Care Crisis

Jo Cox

The 2015 General Election saw 176 MPs elected to the Commons for the very first time. In a series of exclusive interviews, The Huffington Post UK is speaking to MPs from the 2015 intake of the Conservatives, Labour and SNP. This week, it's the very well-travelled Jo Cox...

L abour MP Jo Cox may have inadvertently solved the thorny issue of MP's second homes.

Instead of buying a plush pad in London, our elected representatives could follow her lead and leave on a barge on the Thames. Or maybe they could take over an old cruise ship and live in there?

As well as enjoying her time on the waves, the MP for Batley and Spen has lived and worked in New York, Brussels and Kabul in Afghanistan, giving her something of an international outlook on the world.

And far from hating the Tories, Ms Cox believes the best and brightest from all parties should work together on certain issues. Now that really would be a new politics.

Here is Jo Cox's 15 from '15:

1) Where were you born and raised?

I was born and raised in the constituency in Batley and Spen, so a local lass. All my family, my entire family – I think there’s one cousin who lives just slightly outside the constituency, they’re the black sheep of the family because they live like 20 minutes away from the homestead. I went to Cambridge University and was the first in my family to graduate. It was a bit of a shock to the system in the way that I wasn’t prepared for university as I didn’t have that in my upbringing, no one in my family had been and I didn’t really know what it’s about.

Going to Cambridge was a bit of a culture shock, I was a working class lass from Batley who hadn’t been anywhere apart from the odd holiday on the Costa Del Sol. Suddenly being in an environment where kids had had gap years and been to India or whose parents were diplomats or who had lived overseas – I was completely out of my comfort zone and I felt initimidated by it all. But I got over it. I think it took me ten years to regain the confidence and assurance I had when I was 18, but in doing so it made me realise a lot of things about how the world works and how it’s fine for someone from my background to go on an achieve and push the doors open for any institution and any role and any job.

2) What did you want to be when you were 16 years old?

I probably wanted to work in a factory with my dad. I did that for a while. My summer jobs for three years were going to work in my dad’s factory and earn a bit of pocket money. I absolutely loved it and I think I learnt more there than I did at Cambridge actually in terms of how hard work is and how tough it is finding a job, keeping a job, managing a job and family and commitments outside of work.

3) When did you first become interested in politics?

Late. My family didn’t really have newspapers at home or talk about politics – my family are not political. They were too busy getting on with it – working, looking after kids, trying to pay off the mortgage, all that stuff. It was the experience of Cambridge that made me realise that was a career route that should be open to people like me.

4) Do you have any political heroes?

Robin Cook. I spent a lot of time working on conflict and humanitarian emergencies and I think Robin’s vision when the Labour Party won in 1997 of an ethical foreign policy– I know it got distorted, and it’s difficult and difficult territory – but I thought he was such a hero for setting out a UK foreign policy that could make a real difference to the most vulnerable in the world and I thought he was admirable in that courage. His position on Iraq – I campaigned against Iraq as many of us did, and I thought his principled position which was a tough decision at the time and we forget now how hard that was to stand against the prevailing norm and against your party and your leader.

5) Who’s your favourite politician from another party?

Andrew Mitchell (Conservative). He and I co-authored a piece on Syria. But also that amazing doctor, Sarah Wollaston (Conservative). She’s trail-blazed as an independent voice. She’s found a niche on a couple of issues and run with them and set out a really unique voice. I think she’s been really non-partisan and that’s the kind of politician I want to be.

I’m Labour to the core and always have been and always will be but actually on some issues they are above party politics and I think we can get caught up in that and fail to do the right thing. Issues like foreign policy or the crisis in care or climate change. I almost want the brightest and the best from all parties to sort this out and that’s the sort of politician I am. That’s not to say there aren’t really serious principled differences on issues like the economy or welfare reform where politics comes into it, but rising above that is a really good thing. She tippifies that for me.

6) What did you do for a living before becoming an MP?

I was an aid worker for a decade and then worked in the voluntary sector in the UK on UK child poverty and with the NSPCC and Save the Children. But I had worked for ten years with Oxfam. I’ve lived and worked in Brussels and New York at the UN and worked all over the world. I would jump on a plane and be in Kabul one work and then Dafur the next.

7) What do you do to relax?

I climb mountains and I live on a boat. I live on a big old Dutch barge by Tower Hill on the Thames.

8) If you could run any Government department, which would it be?

The Foreign Office.

9) What is the last book you read?

Probably a children’s book to my kids. Probably ‘I Want My Hat Back’.

10) Who is your favourite band or artist?

That’s difficult. I’m a bit of an indie chick, so I’m going to have to say The White Stripes.

11) Would you rather go on X Factor, The Great British Bake Off or Strictly Come Dancing?

Strictly. I fancy myself as a bit of a groover.

12) What’s the biggest change in yourself since becoming an MP?

Reconnecting back with my roots which has been absolutely brilliant. Going back home has been brilliant.

13) What’s the one thing you would change about UK politics if you could?

A more consensus style of politics looking at problems and getting the best brains involved in them to find solutions.

14) What one reason would you give someone to visit your constituency?

We make beds, we do biscuits and we’ve also got the Frontier nightclub so I’ll have to choose. I’m going to say: the best biscuits in the country.

15) Which three words would your best friend use to describe you?

Passionate, compassionate and loyal.

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