I was first elected to the House of Commons for the new constituency of Sittingbourne and Sheppey in north Kent in May 1997. I had previously been a Labour borough councillor for Archway in the borough of Haringey in north London. I was re-elected in June 2001 and again in May 2005. I stood down in May, 2010.
Before being elected as an MP, I was Director of The Computer Channel aka dot.tv at BSkyB and travelled extensively throughout America from mid 1995 to research the internet and to assess its impact.
On arriving at Westminster I quickly formed the All Party Internet Group and I have been its chairman until in 2007 when at my suggestion we merged three all party IT groups and we are now called the All Party Communications group and I am its new co-chairman. I am also chairman of the London 2012, the British Council and the Rugby Union groups.
The role of an MP is in a state of constant flux. Constituents expect you to be in their patch eight days a week and often feign surprise that you cannot make a meeting between mid Monday and late Thursday because you do actually have to be in Westminster to vote. MPs find that at Westminster they need to be there a further eight days a week! So far, MPs have sadly resisted electronic or text voting (unlike Scottish MSPs). The more we fail to modernise the more out of touch we appear.
I spend all day on Fridays somewhere in Sittingbourne or the Isle of Sheppey or in one of our rural villages. My local staff - Kelly and Amanda - look after my diary, the case work, visits and media coverage. (See Contacts for further information). We usually do a weekly Advice Surgery on Fridays and handle emergencies on Monday mornings. My Advice Surgeries are held in supermarkets, schools, village halls, libraries and churches. I was the first MP to use supermarkets for surgeries.
Since, 1997 I have visited every school (sometimes five or six times), all of our largest businesses (and some of the smaller ones too) and I have fought hard to make sure we won both a new £13 million community hospital (opened 2002) a new £100 million bridge which was opened on 3rd July 2006, an Academy for the Island (£55 million) and funding for the Northern Relief Road (£44 million).
In Parliament, I work at my office in Norman Shaw North on the Westminster estate. My staff there - Anna, Mike and Jenny - look after national and international issues as well that diary and additional case work. In my constituency Kelly, Amanda and Stella look after local issues and the media. Between both offices, we reckon to have helped over 15,000 constituents. We do not win every case but we do our very best.
I work almost exclusively on email - firstname.lastname@example.org - and arrange for these to be forwarded to me remotely when I am away from the Office. Radio5Live said that I was "The fastest emailer in the West" when they ran a competition to find who was the quickest MP to respond to constituents emails!
In 2004, I was voted one of the top 100 internet visionaries over the past decade and subsequently my web site has won three national awards (New Statesman 2006 and British Computer Society in 2007 and 2008). For my role in updating the Computer Misuse Act, ISPA awarded me a special Heroes Award. In January, 2010 I became the first politician to have an "App" on the iPhone.
I was PPS to Rt Hon Margaret Hodge, Arts Minister and Gerry Sutcliffe MP, Sports Minister from 2007-09 at DCMS and I was PPS to Lord Malloch Brown at the Foreign Office until he stood down in July, 2009. From 2005-2010 I led the UKIERI IT links in India.