THE SECRET OF MY SUCCESS: Oona King
Sunday 20 September 1998
Labour MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, Oona King always wanted to do something about global inequalities. She now sits on the International Development Select Committee and is vice chair of the all-party Parliamentary group on Bangladesh
"i went to my careers adviser at 16 thinking I wanted to be prime minister, which is a bit embarrassing. Now I can't imagine anything worse - I don't know how they survive.
"I won my seat for a number of reasons. I think it's about showing people that you are on the same wavelength. And luck played a part. The suggestion that success in our party today demands a politically central position is absolute rubbish. I was the only candidate at my final selection meeting who said that I was a socialist, and I was chosen.
"You get respect at Westminster for having an opinion of conviction as opposed to convenience, but political success demands compromise - principles without power are pointless. You have to be terribly focused, as politics is an all-consuming occupation. It is a question of balancing cracked paving stones with global issues.
"The Bangladesh flood crisis is the greatest thing on my mind at the moment. The select committee will be going there - the perfect opportunity for me to combine my parliamentary work with a matter that directly affects my constituents [33 per cent Bangladeshi]. I get a sense of achievement from doing politics in a new style. I enjoy knocking on doors, introducing myself. People say: 'When's the election?' I say: 'There isn't one.' One old man on a Stepney estate nearly started crying. He said, 'I never thought I'd see the day when a politician came to my house and it wasn't to ask which way I'd be voting...'"
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