My Life (Hardback)
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Malcolm Wicks, who died aged 65 after suffering from cancer, was sent to the House of Commons as the new Labour MP for Croydon North West in April 1992. As the polls closed, he was leaving the party's committee rooms when he saw 'a dishevelled gentleman' going through a litter bin. Even at such a significant juncture in his own life, Wicks paused to consider what parliament could offer such a citizen. A few days later, shortly before arriving at the Palace of Westminster, Wicks encountered another such elderly unfortunate in Victoria Street, a man who told the new MP that he had been in a mental institution for 35 years but was now 'in the care of the community'. In his maiden speech, Wicks, at the time an academic whose life's work had been dedicated to the improvement of social policy, recounted these episodes. As a new MP, he said, his challenge was to 'bridge the gap between the pomp and circumstance of parliament and the poverty and pain in many of our communities'. He remained committed to this endeavour for the rest of his life. Wicks was a highly regarded minister in the governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown from 1999 to 2008: in the Department for Education and Employment, where he was minister for lifelong learning, until 2001; at Work and Pensions to 2005 where he was minister for pensions; and at Trade and Industry, where he became minister for energy, and subsequently at the renamed Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, where he held the same post. He dedicated his political life to finding ways to relieve poverty and insecurity, through both education and support of the family, while always recognising that the fabric and structure of people's lives were constantly changing. He was a courteous, humorous and self-deprecating man, equally able to argue and to listen. He joined the Labour party aged 19, contested Croydon North West unsuccessfully in 1987, won the seat at the following election and from 1997 represented the redrawn constituency of Croydon North. Ed Miliband, called him 'a wise confidant and most importantly a dear friend'. My Life is his amazing and true story. It will appeal to those interested in politics and autobiographies.
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