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Who I am and what I believe

It was an honour to be elected as the MP for Bristol South in 2015, and humbling to be re-elected three times since. It is now a privilege to continue to serve as part of a Labour government.

I want a fair society, where each one of us has equality of opportunity to fulfill our potential, supported by each other and by a democratic, accountable and responsive state.   Bristol South is one of the most economically deprived constituencies in the country with some parts in the 10% most deprived nationally.  I want to use my experience, my skills, my political passion to fight on behalf of the people of Bristol South and build the fairer society I want to see for myself and my family, and for families across Bristol South.

Before becoming an MP I worked in the NHS as a manager, most recently for the NHS Bristol Clinical Commissioning Group. The NHS is my passion, and I am proud to be Labour's Health minister.

Karin Smyth in Bristol South
Karin speaking at MiP Health Conference

My parents came to Britain from Ireland in the 1950s, and worked on building sites and in bars. Growing up I witnessed, at first hand, the uncertainty of insecure jobs, temporary housing, domestic violence and addiction. I was fortunate to have the support of great teachers the sanctuary of a council house, and began to understand that Governments have a choice - to support the vulnerable and lowest paid, or to widen inequality by giving tax cuts to the well off. As they did in the 1980s, the current Tory Government is pursuing an ideological project to permanently shrink the state which threatens the fabric of our society.

I joined the Labour Party in 1985.  There was still apartheid in South Africa, barbed wire and soldiers on a border across Ireland, long hospital waiting lists and more than three million unemployed. It took too long for Labour to win back power and right many of those wrongs. When we did, a transformative decade followed, with investment in schools and hospitals, economic growth, the minimum wage, peace in Ireland and a raft of policies delivering a fairer country, culminating in the Equality Act in 2010.

But since then, five successive Conservative Prime Ministers have all but dismantled Labour's achivement. It is time for Labour, under the leadership of Keir Starmer, to get Britain's future back.

I studied Economics and Social Studies at the University of East Anglia, moving to Bristol in the early 90s. I took an MBA at Bath University in 1995. Improving educational opportunities in south Bristol is imperative, from Early Years, through great primary and secondary schools and by securing apprenticeships and life-long learning. 

My three children have now grown to be amazing adults to whom I remain a very proud mum. The support we received from the last Labour government, when they were young, makes me determined to bring that back for struggling families.

I've seen how remarkable NHS staff have delivered care for elderly family members, despite the broken state of the Health Service. I know that health and social care is a key concern for all ages across South Bristol.

Repairing broken Britain will not be easy, but I am up for the challenge. I hope that you are too.

Labour's Health Team
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