“The School, Staff and Pupils were amazing, I felt so uplifted”
These were the words of Jim McMahon, MP for Oldham West and Royton, following his highly successful visit to our School on May 20th, 2016. Jim also tweeted a number of highly complimentary tweets which included “Fantastic visit to North Chadderton School this morning. Tough questioning and fun. A credit to staff and pupils.”
We thoroughly enjoyed hosting Oldham’s newest Member of Parliament who is predicted to graduate to front bench status and whose special interests include urban regeneration and devolution. After touring the School site with Miss Clark, Mrs Hindle, Mr Thompson, Ms Shah (from Mr McMahon’s office) and Head Boy and Girl, Callum Needham and Saddiqah Begum, Jim met with Members of the School Council and ‘A’ Level Politics classes. The standard of questioning was absolutely superb, especially from Members of the School Council, some not yet in their teens. A sample of the questions and answers are shown below, alongside the full film of the proceedings;
In answer to “some people might say Oldham is one of the worst places to live in England, what would you do to address the issues that make people say so?” Jim explained that he would encourage people to come to Oldham so they can realise their preconceptions are wrong. He further stated that there are deep rooted issues in Oldham which go back to the time of the Industrial Revolution where migration to the town resulted in a lack of quality housing. Jim said that this issue may take generations to change. However, he believed that the strength of Oldham lies in its communities. He had taken a decision to live in Oldham and loved the town and its people. He also cited North Chadderton as one of the best Schools nationally, offering many opportunities that others don’t.
On the issue of Jeremy Corbyn and the Left-Right Wing split within the Labour Party he said that the main priority for the party was winning back power. He said the issues were not ideological battles between factions in the Labour Party, but doing what is right for the country. He said the Labour Party was there to gain the trust of the British public and on the issue of “New Labour” he said that it did “a lot, but not enough.” Right now the party needs to be delivering a message that they are competent and have plans for the betterment of the country.
Jim also provided his views on the steel industry saying that some do not understand the absolute value and quality of British steel. He was also concerned that if these highly skilled jobs were lost they may well be replaced with low paid and low skilled alternatives. He strongly believes that Trident needs to be renewed and without an independent deterrent the country is potentially unstable and insecure. Those who argue that “America will come to our aid” are wrong because America also rely on the United Kingdom.
On the European referendum Jim explained that there is “massively, wild speculation for both sides and we don’t really know what the consequences of either results are going to be.” Furthermore, “we can always go on our own but I believe we are better off in the EU because the alternative is unknown.” Jim also believed that the EU underpins worker’s rights and it is his view that the Conservative government would not fully protect and support these rights, following a “Leave” vote.
Finally, Jim provided us with an insight into his political journey. He stated that he did not always want to go into politics and wasn’t able to go into further education or University. He first became interested in politics when expecting his first child. He found he had an interest in his community and wanted to improve and engineer change for the better in terms of schools, housing and public services. He firmly believes that politics is for all and should inspire. His sole aim was to “make his contribution and make Oldham a better place.”
Our Member of Parliament was with us for the best part of 2 hours. It was one of those fascinating occasions that could easily have run into double the time. On behalf of myself, staff and students I would like to publicly thank Jim McMahon for his interesting insights, detailed answers and absolute engagement with our students.
We look forward to welcoming Jim McMahon again to North Chadderton School, and hope to take up his invitation of visiting him at the Houses of Parliament in the near future.