I left school at 16 and did a couple of years in the building trade and then spent a year farming on a Kibbutz and travelling in the Middle East. This was a formative period of my life, rather like university is to most people.
On my return I ran a shop in Camden High Street, and made some short films, then found myself as a video editor. I worked as a video editor at BBC news, from Kosovo through till Iraq. The fiction writing later developed into blog writing, when the internet gave us all a chance to realise how influential we can be.
I discovered education late in life, off my own back. My study of law came about when I picked up a library book called Criminal Law and read it from cover to cover as if it was a Harry Potter yarn. From here I become professionally qualified to defend suspects in police stations under the legal aid scheme and now work in police stations around east and north London, such as Edmonton and Bethnal Green.
Education was transformational for me. I didn’t just change from being working class to middle class, but also small-minded to confident, judgemental to tolerant. Being able to see the striking difference in myself, is almost like looking at two different people.
I became involved in the Labour Party after George Galloway won against my MP Oona King, then promised to do the same at the council elections the following year. I lived in Bow, which was the Lib Dem stronghold, and therefore ignored by the party. I told the white working class, “Vote for us or get Galloway” and this became our campaign. Respect won 11 seats elsewhere, but due to our mini-landslide in Bow, Labour kept the council by margin of 1. We then applied this campaign across the borough and routed Respect and the remaining Lib Dems.
Since finding my political voice on the blogs I have influenced many policies and politicians. The Leveson enquiry would never have happened if I hadn’t broken the taboo, that the abuse of the press is a price to pay for freedom (Cameron’s Watergate). Criminality is not a price we wish to pay. I argued that there is no excuse for criminality and the Guardian eventually uncovered the truth.
In Tower Hamlets, I grew up during the Bangladeshi immigration, so I’ve seen the tensions and the benefits. See here and here. Although to be honest, I wish the politicians would shut up about immigration, right now.
More recently I started the ongoing debate about rail nationalisation. The consensus was that nationalisation would be too expensive, without realising that the contracts we could just allow the contracts to lapse.
There are many other influences over recent years. My blog archive is here.