An end of an era. After 22 and a half years of service Jim Fitzpatrick, MP for Poplar and Limehouse, will retire tomorrow 6th November when the House of Commons is dissolved. When the new Parliament is reconvened in December we will have someone else to look after us.
Jim was first elected to the House of Commons at the 1997 general election as the MP for Poplar and Canning Town with a majority of 18,915 and made his maiden speech in the House of Commons on 17 June 1997.
He contested the newly created Poplar and Limehouse constituency in 2010, defeating the Respect Party’s George Galloway in the process. Whatever became of George? Anyone know? Anyone care?
Born in Glasgow he went to Holyrood R.C. Secondary School. Jim once recounted to LW how in the school playground he created his first political party.
Seriously. LW doubts there are many Parliamentarians who can claim to have shown such early political ambition. Rumour has it that he still found time to have a game of footy in the playground too.
In 1973 Jim moved ‘dan saff’ and became a firefighter with the London Fire Brigade (LFB) in 1974 until he was elected to the Commons.
To this day he retains the bone crunching grip of a firefighter. He was appointed Fire Minister in 2006.
Despite serving the constituents of a borough with a somewhat troubled political history (well, it is the East End innit?) Jim has somehow managed to distance himself from the tribal politics that passes for public service and consistently remained an extremely capable constituency MP.
Setting the standard
Whoever is elected in December they will have a tough job matching Jim’s professionalism and desire to help any resident irrespective of their political beliefs.
He has set the standard by which his successor will be judged and it is likely that it will only when the next MP for Poplar and Limehouse is in the Commons that his recent armchair tweeting critics will realise Jim has been doing a pretty good job.
The last thing that Tower Hamlets needs at this moment is an inexperienced MP long on attitude but short on ability.
After the Brexit referendum Jim has had the unenviable task of representing a constituency that voted to remain in the EU but has, unlike some, always voted as his conscience tells him.
Calling it as he sees it
Jim Fitzpatrick has been unafraid to speak out on borough issues when others have remained silent, noticeably when he called out Islamic Forum Europe (IFE) for worming its way into Tower Hamlets politics using entryist tactics and encouragement of segregation by gender in direct opposition to the Labour Party’s support of secularism.
After the horror of the Grenfell Tower fire Jim was – and has remained – on our TV screens using his many years experience with the LFB to explain the issues to the rest of us because he actually knew what he was talking about. Unusual in a politician.
As Secretary of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Fire Safety and Rescue he has also been consistently highlighting the issue of privately owned freehold buildings across the country that are not getting reclad.
In addition he has kept multiple aspects of fire safety construction standard in the public eye including: Maintenance and inspection of buildings; Quality of work on repairs/refurbishments; Inspection of finished work of repairs/refurbishments; Fire protection specification for materials in buildings; Procurement and supply of appropriate materials; Regular review of building regulations to ensure protection legislation keeps up with modern methods of construction, and new materials being developed and used.
Any reader of Jim’s weekly newsletter cannot fail to have been amazed at the huge number of causes that he supported and the good humour he displayed when asked to pose with a weird and wonderful number of PR props. These short photo opportunities mean a huge amount to charity campaigners.
He has been a tireless campaigner for the deaf community in particular and has been fighting for leaseholder reform since first being elected.
Thank you Sheila and Jim and the team
But enough of all that! Jim is off to spend more time with his grandchildren and attempt to more closely monitor his wife’s chip consumption – not that it seems to have done Sheila any harm.
Borough residents will no doubt thank Sheila for her tireless work alongside Jim, a vital partnership role that is often overlooked.
Dr Sheila Fitzpatrick was awarded an MBE in 2016 for her charitable work, in particular with the Sreepur Village Orphanage in Bangladesh and in the UK the Marine Society & Sea Cadets and Eastern Alliance for Safe and Sustainable Transport.
Jim is a patron of the Sreepur Village Orphanage and Sheila a trustee.
Moley understands that in the last few months Jim has made a point of ensuring that his constituency office team Louise, Joytera, Jenny, Martin and Dave will be properly looked after when he moves on.
In the not too distant past Mole has been one of the many Tower Hamlets residents to have obtained food bank vouchers from Louise or her colleagues and most grateful he was!
LW has no idea what Jim will be doing next but we have not the slightest doubt that he will be keeping himself busy. Public service runs through his veins.
Suppose it’s too late for Moley to go on one of your Parliament tours then Jim?
(Err.. yes it is! Jim tells Mole that he has shown no less than 10,000 constituents around Parliament – 10,000!)
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