Read the full column below.
It has been five years since I was re-elected to represent Tooting in Parliament and it has been non-stop ever since! It continues to be a privilege to represent our local community. As someone who was born in the local hospital, St George's, attended local schools, met my wife and am now raising our two daughters here what happens in our community really matters to me. And looking back over the past five years, it’s not been an easy time for many of us. One thing which has been particularly tough has been to see the impact the decisions of this government have had on our friends and neighbours - from the bedroom tax to pay freezes and VAT increases, from the trebling of tuition fees increase to the opening of Wandsworth's first foodbank.
As the MP for Tooting, one of the most important parts of my role over the last five years has been holding the government to account on behalf of local residents - opposing the war in Syria, voting against selling off our forests, and voting against the gagging bill which makes it hard for charities to speak out. As the Shadow Justice Secretary I have also been leading the opposition to the government’s cuts to legal aid and changes to the probation and prisons systems.
The last five years have also been about working with the local community to make Tooting an even better place to live. I am really proud of what we have achieved together – we’ve succeeded in forcing Wandsworth Council to save a popular local pub, The Wheatsheaf, and introduce a pubs protection policy for the whole borough, we kept our local athletics track open and affordable and we've seen 20mph zones introduced on hundreds of roads (but I'm still campaigning for more!). We've also got the government to hand planning power back to local councils, so we have more say on the shops that open on our high street!
I have lots of personal highlights from the last five years too - seeing the Olympic torch come through Tooting in 2012, opening the newly refurbished Earlsfield Station back in 2013, after we secured £8 million to bring the station into the twenty first century, running the London Marathon in 2014 for the Dispossessed Fund charity. We've had a record number of street parties across the constituency and it has been a lot of fun joining friends and neighbours in celebrating our great community. Who’d want to be an MP for anywhere else?