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Last Updated: Monday January 09 2006 16:38 GMT

Diane Abbott interview

MP Diane Abbott
My job is a mix of things. I spend a lot of time helping my constituents with their problems - housing problems, immigration problems, maybe they've got difficulties getting benefit.

I spend a lot of time visiting local organisations. In September I visited 14 Hackney schools.

But also I'm in Parliament most days. Like today, I'm going back to Parliament and tomorrow we are going to be debating and voting on the terrorism bill.

In Parliament we debate on and we decide the laws that are going to govern the country.

So my job's a mix of trying to help people locally but also playing my part in Parliament.

When you went to Harrow County Girls' Grammar School, what skills did you learn there that are relevant to your job now as an MP?

I just learnt to work hard and do my best.

My family were from Jamaica. They left school at 14 and they were working class black people.

At Cambridge, for the first time, I was mixing with middle class people and mixing with the middle class white people.

What Cambridge taught me was how to hold my own amongst middle class people from a lot more comfortable backgrounds than my own.

How do you see the future. Have you got any plans for where you want to be in five years time?

I want to write a best-selling book.

Have you got any strategies in place in order to achieve that?

I'm doing more journalism, doing a column for the (London Evening) Standard and stuff like that. So I'm working my way towards it.

Your job as a broadcast journalist beforehand, did that help you with what you're doing now?

Yes. Media is very important in modern politics and having been a broadcast journalist helped me in knowing how to project myself on the media and to understand the media. And that has been helpful.

Your job as a civil servant, originally, what did that involve?

I was an administrator. I was a graduate trainee and I worked for the prison department and the parole board and what being a civil servant taught me was how government really works -and that's useful for a politician.



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