Time to reflect on nearly 40 years in politics

Andrew Dismore

Andrew Dismore is retiring in May - Credit: Archant

As I retire in May, this will be my last Assembly member’s Ham & High column.

It’s been an honour and a privilege to serve my constituents, but it’s time to move on.

As the late Tony Benn said when he retired from parliament, it’ll allow me to spend more time on politics - and after almost 40 years, reflect on my career.

I was first elected as a Westminster City councillor in 1982, where I served for 15 years, including seven as leader of the opposition. We exposed the Conservatives’ "sale of the cemeteries for 15p" asset strip and their "Homes for Votes" gerrymandering scandal, the worst case of local government corruption of the 20th century.

As Hendon’s MP, the first Labour MP elected there since 1945, I served in the Labour governments of 1997 to 2010.

My roles included chairing the Human Rights Committee, working to explain the relevance of human rights to all. For example, we reported on the treatment of the elderly in hospitals - very relevant to today’s pandemic.

I specialised in private members bills, getting two into law and three others adopted as government policy, such as Holocaust Memorial Day and corporate manslaughter, as well as religious divorce reform.

People enjoy the sunshine outside City Hall in London, during England's third national lockdown to c

Elections for London Assembly members are on May 6 - Credit: PA Images

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I won the Barnet and Camden London Assembly seat in 2012. I was straight into challenging Mayor Boris Johnson, especially over his London Fire Brigade cuts, which I believe led to serious consequences like the fire death near Belsize Fire Station, which he’d closed.

Now, as chair of the Fire Committee, the consequences of Grenfell are at the forefront, working to improve the brigade’s major incident response and to fight for fair treatment of the thousands of London leaseholders trapped in dangerous blocks of flats, unable to sell, re-mortgage or insure, facing huge bills for waking watches and remediation of fire risks. That work will have to go on in the next assembly, so I wish my successor well in addressing these ongoing London challenges.

Finally, can I thank the Ham&High and you, its readers – a great newspaper who’ve always given me fair coverage.

  • Andrew Dismore is the outgoing London Assembly member for Barnet and Camden.