Labour MP Angela Rayner has launched a staunch defence of Tony Blair as she warned her party that “ideology never put food on my table”.
In an exclusive interview with Huff Post UK, the Shadow Education Secretary spoke candidly about how her life as a teenage mum became much better after Labour took to power in 1997.
Rayner, who gave birth to the first of her three children when she was 16 years old, also issued a heartfelt thank you to UK taxpayers for funding the welfare system that helped support her and her family as she struggled to make ends meet.
The former care worker, who was elected as MP for Ashton-under-Lyne in 2015, is one of Labour’s rising stars, and led the party’s opposition to Theresa May’s plan to open more grammar schools across the country.
In the interview, Rayner also spoke openly about her mother being unable to read, the reality of growing up in poverty, and how she feels she is “punching above her gene pool” by becoming an MP.
She also said she held no truck with factionalism in her party, and wanted every one in the Labour movement to pull together to get back into government.
Here are some of the best bits of the interview, and the full video is at the bottom.
Angela Rayner on….
…a Tory MP mistaking her talking about her council estate for a country estate
“I use slang in the way I talk and sometimes they don’t understand. ‘What’s “mooch”, Ange? What does “mooch” mean?’ ‘It means you’re going for a trek! It’s a long distance!’
….growing up in poverty
“We had poverty in our house. Even on the council estate I knew I was one of the poorer kids. I used to go round my friends houses on a Sunday to get their Sunday dinner because my mum couldn’t cook either so I used to love going round my mates and say: ‘Can you ask your Mum if I can come in for Sunday dinner?’”
…how she learnt to be a mum
”They taught me about hugging and loving your children and telling them how amazing they are as young people is a really important thing. I didn’t realise. I never got hugged as child.”
…how grateful she is for the welfare state
”Ideology never put food on my table. I talk about Tony Blair’s tenure, because it changed my life, it gave my children a life that I could never have dreamt of having and I want us to get back to that.
“There was a council house waiting for me when I had Ryan, there was a welfare state. I never put into the system before I took out, I was on income support before I’d even paid a penny of tax.
“Thank you to the taxpayers of the UK because instead of taking my child off me like they used to in the ‘50s and ‘60s to single parents at that age, you let me be a mum to my son and my son is at college, he’s working, he’s a great young person, you’d be proud of him, I’m proud of him and I pay taxes now, and continue to pay taxes now because of what you did for me.
“It was a tremendous thing and that’s what Labour stands for, that’s what you do when you’re in power.”
Here is the full interview: