Election '05: Question Time - Andrew Harrop, Labour candidate for NE Herts

What's your job in the sector?

I am a manager at Age Concern England's policy unit. I lead a team that covers economics, research and policy development on ageism. I'm also a member of the Government's advisory group on age discrimination legislation.

Why do you want to go into politics?

I see being in politics as a natural extension of working for a campaigning charity. I want to represent people in difficulty, contribute to a fairer society and make sure the most vulnerable do not get left behind.

Why did you choose the Labour Party?

I believe that Labour is the only party for anyone who is serious about social justice and wants to make change happen, rather than just talk about it.

How long have you supported them?

Since I stood in mock elections at school. My political experience started at university in Cambridge - I was secretary of the university's Labour Club and volunteered for local MP Anne Campbell during the 1997 election. In 2002, I stood as a local council candidate in Lambeth. I stood to become an approved candidate in the North East Hertfordshire constituency 18 months ago, and was finally selected in July.

What will you do for the sector if you get in?

I wouldn't do the sector any special favours - it doesn't need them, as it is now both vast and robust. Instead, I would press for voluntary organisations to be treated as equals of agencies in the public and private sectors.

In terms of service delivery, I would campaign for fair contracts that reflect true costs, regardless of whether a service is provided by private or voluntary providers. But voluntary organisations need to know how much money is going to be available and what the priorities are for services in an area so that they can adjust their planning.

In 2001, North East Hertfordshire was won by the Conservative Party with a majority of 3,444.

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