A POLITICIAN who grew up in an era of dole queues and strike action has been inspiring students to take an interest in current affairs.
MP for Middlesbrough South Tom Blenksinsop joined the Labour Party when he was just 16 and has been campaigning ever since.
“I grew up in Middlesbrough in the 80s and 90s, during the miners’ and steel strikes, when the dole queues were huge and comprised people who had worked in shipbuilding and steel manufacturing,” he told Year 9 students at The King’s Academy, Coulby Newham.
“It was an era of Kinnock, Foot and Thatcher and I was inspired to become involved by what I saw.”
Mr Blenkinsop was invited to address Year 9 students and sixth formers by politics teacher Jenny Yuill.
She said: “We have been looking at politics, current affairs, the Euro elections and crime and justice so it is great to hear from someone who is so actively involved.
“It’s important that students shape their own political opinions through being informed and listening to all viewpoints, so we try to present them with as much variety as possible.”
The students heard that Mr Blenkinsop had studied A Level politics and had become party agent to former Middlesbrough MP Ashok Kumar, as well as being a union organiser.
“I was involved in the moth-balling of the local steelworks and the campaign to save Redcar steel,” he said.
“Being an MP is never about the money, in fact you could probably earn more in the private sector. You have to want to do it and be driven; it has to be in your blood.”
Mr Blenkinsop talked about the history of politics, his day-to-day job at Westminster and answered students’ questions.