August 13, 2020

Meet our new MPs: Paul Howell, Sedgefield

In our third interview for our ‘Meet our new MPs’ series, we’d like to introduce Paul Howell, MP for Sedgefield.

We want to ensure our new MPs hold on to their seats and they can only do that with your support. Here we’d like for you to meet some of these new MPs for the first time so you can help our efforts to keep them.

What made you originally support the Conservative Party? Have you always been a Conservative?

Growing up in the 70s, despite the obvious value of trade unions I never understood why they thought they should run the country nor why the Labour government seemed to want to let them. This meant I therefore always leant towards being Conservative. I was not politically active in my younger years when I made my career as an accountant in industry but since around 2010 I became more engaged and active, particularly in local politics.

Have you always wanted to be an MP or is political campaigning a new passion?

Once involved in politics, I felt that living in the North East and with councils that had been Labour-led for such a long time it frustrated me that being in permanent opposition meant your ability to influence change was very restricted. I determined that there was more opportunity to make a difference as the MP and indeed more chance of being elected as a Conservative MP than there was of being in a Conservative-led council so I worked to that objective.

What did Labour get wrong in Sedgefield that you would like to get right?

“Labour stopped listening”

In the Blair years we had a Labour Cabinet dominated by North East MPs but the word I get on the doors is: what did they ever do for us? My conclusion is that they thought the local vote was permanent and they didn’t need to nurture it. My approach therefore is to listen to the people of Sedgefield and do my utmost to improve things for them, recognise that their vote is lent to me and give them every reason to lend it again.

I am particularly focused on both the levelling up agenda through the “Left behind communities” APPG and local transport infrastructure, specifically the reinstatement of Ferryhill railway station as I believe these are where a real difference can be made.

How did you feel stepping into the Commons for the first time after the election?

It was a surreal experience, a strange combination of a sense of history and a gift of the opportunity to be there “in the room where it happens” and make a difference.

How important were party members and volunteers to your victory?

The party only selected me as the Sedgefield candidate after the election was called, meaning we had limited time to campaign and whilst not the largest, Sedgefield still has a significant geographic footprint. Being surrounded by seats like Darlington and Bishop Auckland which were high targets it meant party resources were limited. I had a small but critical team of local volunteers and local councillors without whom it would have been close to impossible. The foot leather of the volunteers and the contacts of the councillors made all the difference to the delivery we achieved.

And now for some quick fire questions…

1. Greatest political hero?

Just read the biography of William Pitt the Younger who had a remarkable time in office but globally for me it has to be Nelson Mandela

2. Greggs or Pret?

Both, my office is literally next door to Greggs and Pret is my food station as I pass through Kings Cross on the way home

3. Do you have a political motto?

More a life one, I have 2 ears and 1 mouth – try to use them in that proportion

4. Gravy or vinegar on chips?


5. Football or cricket?

Football, my Dad took me to Newcastle and I have suffered with them ever since

6. Favourite political moment?

Difficult to go past being elected in Sedgefield and then having the PM visit the day after, add to that the number of local colleagues elected and our “blue scarves” trip to London meant that election was unforgettable

7. Cream or jam first?

Typically cream but can waver
Region Labour's Pension Tax (£) Extra Months to Work
England 11,167 44
East Midlands 6,150 50
Greater London 12,871 45
North East 9,758 38
North West 6,835 47
South East 14,270 40
South West 7,407 45
West Midlands 10,729 41
Northern Ireland 13,718 35
Scotland 10,653 41
Wales 11,691 36
United Kingdom 11,253 43

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.”

Read more about how this Pension Tax will impact millions of savers (PDF)

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