Emily Thornberry

Emily Thornberry, Labour candidate for Islington South and Finsbury

Emily Thornberry, Labour candidate for Islington South and Finsbury - Credit: Archant

Labour candidate for Islington South and Finsbury

Age: 54

Address: Barnsbury

Marital status: Married

Children: Three


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Interests outside politics: Family, cycling, travel.

Current job: Proudly working hard for Islington South and Finsbury.

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Any directorships/ other financial interests: None.

What jobs/ interests will you continue with if elected: Being an MP is a full time job and more.

What is your local connection to the area: Islington has been my home for 23 years. It’s where I chose to settle down and raise my three children. I’ve put down roots here and can’t imagine living anywhere else.

If I am elected, the first thing I will do is: If, as I hope, I am re-elected as part of a Labour government, I’ll have my work cut out for me in terms of clearing up the mess left by the Tories and Lib Dems. I look forward to working with a Labour government to protect the NHS, stand up to vested interests, give councils more powers to invest in social housing, introduce stable tenancies and stable rents in the private sector and root out abuses like rip-off fees, increase the availability of free childcare, raise the minimum wage and introduce a jobs guarantee and new apprenticeship opportunities for young people. That should keep me busy for a while.

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How would you/did you vote on:

Assisted suicide? This is an issue of conscience, not politics, and opinions differ greatly among politicians and public alike. No one could fail to have been moved by the case of Debbie Purdy, who was terminally ill with multiple sclerosis when, in 2009, she sought clarity as to whether her husband would be prosecuted if he travelled with her to a Swiss clinic that would help her end her life. The love this couple felt for each other was clear, and I felt it was important for families in similar situations to have clarity as to whether those assisting a loved one to travel overseas to places where assisted dying is legal could expect to face prosecution on their return.

As Labour’s shadow Attorney General I welcomed the introduction of new guidelines by the Director of Public Prosecutions in 2012. These guidlines explicitly stated that a decision to prosecute should weigh a number of factors, including whether a “voluntary, clear, settled and informed” decision had been made by the patient, and whether those accompanying them had acted “wholly compassionately”. These guidelines were supported my MPs across parties, including me, as a sensible and proportionate step forward in this sensitive debate.

Gay marriage? I’ve been proud throughout my time as an MP to be a strong supporter of LGBT equality, and I’ve voted in favour of banning discrimination against LGBT individuals, allowing access to IVF treatment for lesbian couples, and allowing LGBT couples to marry in civil ceremonies. Strong views existed on both sides of the marriage debate, and those views were recognised by provisions that allow churches, synagogues, mosques and other houses of worship to opt out of performing or even recognising such marriages if they so choose. Legislating for equal civil marriage was a major victory in the fight for LGBT equality under the law. I was proud to be a founding member of the Labour campaign for equal marriage and I worked hard as shadow Attorney General to help pass pragmatic, workable legislation to achieve this.

As well as working with liberal minded MPs from other parties to make passage of this legislation possible, Labour helped improve the bill. In my role I worked with colleagues to draft provisions that, whilst making it clear that at the moment the Church of England will not conduct gay marriages, if this policy changes it will not be necessary to pass a new law.

UK military action against Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s government?

Over the last few years I’ve watched with increasing distress and alarm as Syria has descended further into brutal conflict. However, I was not convinced by David Cameron’s hasty proposals for military intervention. Just as I opposed the Iraq war in 2003, I also opposed a poorly prepared and ill thought out intervention in Syria.

As shadow Attorney General at the time, I was responsible for advising the Labour front bench on the legal implications of intervention, and in this capacity I raised serious concerns about the government’s cavalier attitude towards the UN and regaining international support for military action. Clearly the Prime Minister had failed to learn the lessons of Iraq.

Labour’s approach to the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria focussed on the need for a negotiated solution to achieve a lasting peace, and we called on the government to work with neighbouring countries to support negotiations and to urge other governments to match the UK’s commitment for humanitarian aid to Syria.

Labour’s stance on the Syrian conflict helped shape international foreign policy – by holding the government to account on the need to secure international consensus to intervene we were able to influence American foreign policy in a positive direction as well.

Smoking in cars? Smoking is a personal choice, but our freedoms have limits when they impact on the wellbeing of others – especially children. Recognising this, the last Labour government introduced the ban on smoking in public places and last year MPs, including me, voted in favour of a ban on smoking in vehicles where children are present.

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