Name: Jamieson Ronald Reed.
Known as: Jamie Reed MP.
Know for: MP for Copeland.
School: Whitehaven School (Now The Whitehaven Academy.
Current Residence: Whitehaven.
Political Party: Labour.
Assumed Office: 5th May 2005.
Preceded by: Jack Cunningham.
1. When you were at secondary school, what did you want to do when you were older?
I wanted to be the captain of Liverpool…but an apparent lack of talent stopped this from becoming a reality. Then I wanted to become a journalist.
2. When did you decide to go into politics?
It has always been a passion of mine from a young age and I’d always thought about and discussed current affairs and politics from the age of about 11. Politics is about much more than being a councilor or an MP and I was lucky enough to work in the European Parliament in Brussels as a researcher for Sir Tony Cunningham when he was our local MEP. I hadn’t left university long and it was probably towards the end of my degree that I thought I’d like to work in politics in some way.
3. What does your average weekday consist of?
Hard to say with any real predictability. It’s routinely an eighty hour working week and often more than that. So it’s a mixture of developing questions for the government, looking for opportunities for the constituency, meetings, research, writing, parliamentary debates and media work.
4. What does your average weekend consist of?
Trying to spend as much time with my wife and four children as possible – but often meeting with people on the weekend who are unable to see me during the week. And I try to get a long run in.
5. What is it you love most about being the MP for Copeland?
Getting things done. A lot of MPs with different types of constituencies to Copeland lead a very different life to me. They enjoy the Parliamentary Club in a way I never could, but for me securing our economic future, our local health services and investing in our local schools are the issues that really motivate me. To witness something like an idea or a policy you have fought for being turned into bricks and mortar and becoming a physical reality – like the new West Cumberland Hospital – is rewarding. That said, it’s never ‘over’ there’s never an end point.
6. Why did you choose to stay in Whitehaven when you left school rather than move onto a city or a bigger area with more opportunities?
Because I love Whitehaven. I was given the opportunity to stand for other parliamentary constituencies, but I was never interested in doing that. Copeland is the most inaccessible constituency from Westminster in England, it would be easier for me to live in London and to move my family down there too, but home is literally where the heart is. I’ve always believed that I could live the life I wanted to lead in Whitehaven and I’ve always believed that we can develop those opportunities that some people leave the area to pursue. Whitehaven’s best days are ahead of it; I’m sure of that.
7. What do you think is important for local traders to do in order to survive in the current economic situation.
Adapt. The recession changed so much and the economic environment will continue to be precarious, but good businesses and good business models will weather the storm. Some big chains have been proven to be fairly weak in the face of the crisis – but this opens the door for smaller traders and we’re seeing in Whitehaven that new traders are beginning to understand the kind of lifestyle offerings that a lot of potential customers want: delis, bakeries, sports…
8. What do you think is important for the local people to do in order to support the town?
Shop locally as much as possible, obviously, but fundamentally get involved with the life of the town and the efforts to make it better. Be vocal, be active, but pointing at others and blaming them for what they have or haven’t done is a waste of time and energy. Get involved, take some ownership, do something positive.
9. What does being the local MP for Copeland involve and why do you enjoy it?
I enjoy it because politics really matters, locally and nationally, and because so far, I’ve managed to make progress in those areas that are essential for our future success. The job essentially involves anything and everything you can think of. One day you’re picking up litter as part of a community clean-up, the next you’re trying to persuade a multinational company to come to Copeland, the next you’re having meetings in Downing Street, the next you’re showing pupils from a local school around Parliament.
10. What was your first job and what did it involve?
I used to help my older brother with his bouncy castle business! It’s as bad as it sounds. I was 12 years old and essentially the general dogsbody…
11. What would your biggest bit of advice be for someone who wants to go onto something bigger and better than what they are currently doing and do you think if someone works hard enough they can achieve anything?
Nothing beats effort. Talent is great, but effort, application, discipline are all essential for anyone who has an ambition that they want to fulfill. And think big. We get one shot at life and its better to try and to fail than to never try. Always be ambitious, always be aspirational and never, ever be afraid to fail. ‘Failure’ isn’t an end point; it’s not definitive. At the most basic level, failure is a learning point, it’s a lesson and it’s extremely valuable.