I was born in Tredegar in 1970, and have kept strong and continuing links to South Wales throughout my life. Following comprehensive school I went to Cambridge University to study modern languages, and since 1996 I have been married to Helle, Social Democrat Member of the Danish Parliament, who I met when I won a scholarship to the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium. We have two lovely teenage daughters.
Life outside politics
I have in-depth experience of business and of working internationally, having spent over twenty years working in the private sector. I have lived and worked in Brussels, Russia, Africa and Switzerland, and I understand how important it is for Aberavon to identify and pursue new investment opportunities. I speak five languages fluently, and will soon be taking up Welsh lessons!
I'm passionate about my country and I know Aberavon's future can be just as bright as our past, but we need a strong voice for the area who can raise our profile and get the investment we need. I am a pragmatist, and constantly looking to build alliances and consensus across communities in order to get things, because I know that Aberavon will only realise its full potential if we all pull together. What matters is what works for the people of Aberavon, and I will always act in the best interests of my constituents.
A strong national voice
As your Member of Parliament for Aberavon my primary place of work is Westminster, where I will be based from Monday to Thursday most weeks. When I am not in Westminster I will be in Aberavon (usually from Thursday evening through to Sunday afternoon), listening to the concerns and priorities of my constituents and campaigning on local issues. My top priority is to be a strong voice for the people of Aberavon in the Houses of Parliament and in the national media, and as such I see myself as an ambassador for the causes that you hold dear, fighting to secure the best possible deal for you, your families and your communities.
Labour is currently in opposition and as such our main task is to hold the government to account, and to endeavour to limit the damage that Mr Cameron inflicts on ordinary working families. My parliamentary work will focus on a range of issues that are of direct relevance to Aberavon, including the future of the steel industry, making the positive case for the UK to remain in the European Union, campaigning for a review of the Barnett formula to get a fair deal for Wales, and pushing for real investment in an industrial strategy that will lead to a renaissance of Welsh manufacturing.
Engaging in and with our local communities
As your MP I have made a home in Baglan, and I will be a highly visible and in-touch local MP. My office in the Water Street Business Centre in Port Talbot is fully staffed and running a drop in surgery between 10am and 1pm, along with a programme of community surgeries where you can come to speak with me. I will use my campaigning and organisational skills to provide active, accessible, continual service to constituents. I have already been involved in a number of high profile campaigns such as Junction 41, federalising schools, Cymmer Pool, Taibach and Briton Ferry libraries, Bryn Bowls Club, Keep Wales Tidy, running in the Beast of Bryn.
I am a firm believer that an MP has to be pro-active, and I will not be just sitting back and waiting for you to come to me. I intend to be actively reaching out and engaging with communities and individuals right across the constituency, listening to what matters most to you, tackling challenges and building on opportunities.
Over the coming months I want to transform the MP’s office into a hub of community activity, based around coffee mornings, discussion forums and community engagement projects. I'll be hosting a range of coffee mornings and forums to meet and engage with the local community and community groups to hear their thoughts on the future of Aberavon. In the forums I aim to provide advice and help on matters like reducing fuel costs and to encourage investment into the constituency.
I will work closely with our AM David Rees and our team of Labour councillors to deliver for Aberavon.