July 16, 2020
This is the second interview in our ‘Meet our new MPs’ series, where you will have the opportunity to meet Jo Gideon, MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central.
Our new MPs represent the future of our Party and we’re committed to ensuring our 58 new seats receive the support they need. We wanted to give you the chance to meet many of our new MPs for the first time and support our efforts to back them.
In my twenties, I spent years living abroad teaching English and EFL. In my thirties and forties, I was busy raising my family; starting a business which supplied major High Street and independent retailers; as well as setting up and running award-winning social enterprises, working with businesses for university innovation and enterprise centres and mentoring business leaders in peer support networks.
I came in late to party politics. My first party political activity was in 2001, running the General Election campaign for my then partner. People told me I should think about standing myself, and in 2002 I joined the Candidates’ List. I had never considered it before, so the “Ask her to stand” campaign is something I wholeheartedly endorse.
To gain some experience of grassroots politics, I served for 12 years as a Conservative councillor where I learned so much about engaging with the local community, party politics and local government. And this prompted me to apply my experience politically to influence national policy.
Stoke-on-Trent’s core identity is its industrial heritage as the home of ceramics, so I’ve been campaigning for an advanced ceramics campus to be built locally, to bring together world-class commercial research facilities, key manufacturers and universities, who will be the catalyst for securing a new future in advanced ceramics and providing a massive boost to the national economy.
I’ve also been working alongside my fellow Stoke MPs to improve the massively inadequate transport options in Stoke and lobbying for the local NHS Trust to have its crippling PFI bill paid off - a disaster inherited from the previous Labour Government - so it can concentrate on delivering more and improved services.
I’m passionate about fairness. I believe in equality of opportunity and tackling the root causes of inequalities in a collaborative, grassroots-led approach. I’ve been working on the Levelling Up agenda by engaging with local networks to promote the best ideas of those positive place shapers working in, with and for the community.
I made it my mission from the start to identify and engage with the positive, optimistic voices to campaign for a better future for our young people.
Levelling up means breaking down Leftist dogma by owning social justice as the cornerstone of our policies, but in a Conservative way – a collaborative community-based politics, looking at Social Value and creating opportunities for social business investment.
One of my most memorable moments was hearing the strongly pro-Conservative reaction from lifelong Labour supporters and trade unionists. It was not just pro-Brexit and anti-Labour but a positive vote for change.
I also enjoyed the ‘meet the voters’ at a city centre pub in Hanley, where they were surprised that I could hold my own in a heated debate and messaged me afterwards to tell me so!
I had a small number of totally dedicated local volunteers, and Conservative friends and colleagues from as far away as Kent, helping me deliver 32,000 leaflets in five weeks, working from an A-Z map of the constituency, marked off in highlighter each day! Without the generosity of Tunbridge Wells Conservative Association, I could not have afforded to pay for those leaflets, and I am hugely grateful to them.
This was with the help of supporting constituencies. I had a message from Stafford Conservatives to say they had made 800 phone calls for me in the last few days of the campaign. That may well have made all the difference.
When the returning officer told me at 4.15 on the morning of Friday December 13th that I was elected with a majority of 670, it was great to see the surprise and joy on the faces of local party members!
Stoke-on-Trent Central was always going to be a tough fight in 2019. But I always knew, with supporters like you we could win it.
Commenting, Therese Coffey, Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions, said:
“Corbyn’s Pension Tax will see ten million savers facing a huge bill forcing them to delay their retirement for almost three and a half years.
“This is just one of the ways a Corbyn government would hammer hardworking people on top of his plans to hike up taxes by £2,400 a year, as well as the cost of his plan for unlimited immigration and the chaos of 2020 being dominated by two more referendums – one on Brexit and another on Scottish independence.
“Only Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party can get Brexit done with a deal, get parliament working again and turbocharge our economy to unleash Britain’s potential.”