Margaret Hodge has been the Labour MP for Barking (near London) since 1994 and after holding various ministerial posts (Culture, Children) she is now the high profile Chair of the Public Accounts Committee.
Margaret was interviewed at a special convening of The Leaders Club in January sharing her wisdom from a long life in politics on both sides of the house of Westminster. Read the report of this event. This is what I personally took away from that dialogue.
- Working as a lone woman (in a majority of men) and having a mission can make you a big target for both criticism and untruthful media coverage. I think that this is less about gender and more about being in a minority and trying to shift the status quo.
- You’re never too old to take on a a big mission or a big job. Margaret is 70 and has been in the running for the election of a new Mayor for London. I can stop whining about being in my late 50s and feeling like I missed out on anything. Just get on with it!
- Doing what you believe is right and actually having the courage to speak out might mean you lose out in the popularity stakes …. but as long as you are true to yourself and your values, that will give you the strength you need.
- Get involved. Don’t leave everything to the politicians. Get behind a big idea. Get behind a small idea. Get behind something. I am talking to myself here.
- Tell the truth. Other people might not like, but better to be known as a truth-teller, particularly in the current culture of politics that is so tainted by lies and dishonesty.
- Have the humility to recognise when you were wrong. If you make a mistake, own it. Be upfront about it and that will help to defuse some of the ammunition your opponents might line up against you.
- Don’t just complain about what you see that is not working … do something different to try to bring about change.
- Value the immense power of listening …. really listening …. so that your stakeholders feel heard.
- Work with others to get results … cross boundaries, partitions, borders, tribes …. whatever traditions separates you … find ways to come together to get results when you have a common cause and both of you will benefit.
Are there any politicians who have inspired you? What inspired you?