About Tom

Tom Harris is the Labour MP for Glasgow South and is standing for re-election at the 2015 general election.

He was born on 20 February 1964 and lived the first 20 years of his life in Beith, Ayrshire. The son of Tom, an HGV lorry driver, and Rita, an office clerk, Tom attended Spier’s School, Beith Primary and Garnock Academy in nearby Kilbirnie. He initially studied mechanical engineering at Glasgow College (now Glasgow Caledonian University) before studying journalism at Napier College (now Napier University) in Edinburgh.

After college, he worked briefly as staff writer on Business Scotland magazine before joining the staff of the East Kilbride News (1986-1988) and then the Paisley Daily Express (1988-1990). In September 1990 he became the Labour Party’s first ever full time press and publicity officer in Scotland, based at Keir Hardie House in Glasgow. In the following two years Tom worked closely with Donald Dewar as well as with John Smith, Gordon Brown, Robin Cook, Tony Blair and a succession of Shadow Cabinet members.

Following Labour’s defeat at the 1992 general election, Tom returned briefly to freelance journalism before joining the press office of Strathclyde Regional Council. After reorganisation of local government in 1996, Tom became the Senior Media Officer for the new Glasgow City Council before being appointed as Public Relations Manager at East Ayrshire Council in Kilmarnock. In 1998 he became the Chief PR and Marketing Officer for Strathclyde Passenger Transport Executive (SPT), a post he held until he was elected to the House of Commons in June 2001.

Tom joined Labour in 1984 and was initially active in Edinburgh South constituency where he lived as a student. After getting a job on the East Kilbride News as a trainee reporter in 1986, he moved to the south side of Glasgow, where he became closely involved in Cathcart Constituency Labour Party (CLP). In 1988/89 he led the investigation into the activities of Militant in Cathcart, which resulted in eight members of the Trotskyite entryist organisation being expelled from Labour’s ranks.

He was elected chair of Cathcart CLP in 1998. In January 2000, John Maxton, who had served as Labour MP for Cathcart since 1979, announced he would not be seeking re-election to parliament. In September of that year, Tom was selected as Labour’s new candidate in Cathcart.

At the general election held on 7 June, 2001, Tom was elected to parliament with 54 per cent of the vote and a majority of 10,816.

He became a member of the Science and Technology Select Committee before becoming Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to John Spellar, Minister of State for Northern Ireland, in July 2003. In this period he was instrumental in making light pollution a statutory nuisance for the first time, and for introducing tougher sentences for computer hacking.

Standing in the new seat of Glasgow South at the 2005 general election, Tom was re-elected to the Commons with a majority of 10,832 on a reduced share of the vote of 47 per cent.

He served as PPS to Patricia Hewitt, Secretary of State for Health, until September 2006, when Tony Blair appointed him as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport with responsibility for the rail network. Ten months later, when Gordon Brown became Prime Minister, he re-appointed Tom to the Department for Transport (DfT) with an expanded portfolio which included the trunk road network.

At the reshuffle of October 2008, Tom returned, reluctantly, to the back benches.

In May 2010, Tom was re-elected as the MP for Glasgow South with a majority of 12,658 on a 51 per cent share of the vote, after which he was elected to serve on the Transport Select Committee.

Following Scottish Labour’s decisive defeat at the Scottish Parliament elections of May 2011, Tom announced he would be a candidate for the leadership of the Scottish party and stood in the contest ultimately won by Johann Lamont MSP.

In May 2012, Ed Miliband carried out a mini reshuffle of his front bench and appointed Tom as Shadow Minister for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. He resigned just over a year later citing family reasons and returned to the back benches. In the last year he has championed the right of parents to be given the statutory right to bereavement leave in the event of a child dying. He is a strong supporter of public transport and has long campaigned for the bus industry to be regulated for the first time since the Thatcher era.

In November 2014, Tom was re-appointed to the House of Commons Transport Select Committee.

Tom is married to Carolyn with whom he has two sons. He has an older son from his first marriage. He is a member of the Community trade union.

His non-political interests include tennis, karaoke, astronomy and science fiction (particularly Doctor Who). Tom is the author of Why I’m Right And Everyone Else Is Wrong, a collection of posts from his belated (and celebrated) blog.

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