Bio

Like many Londoners, I wasn’t born in this city. But I moved here with my parents when I was one. And I live now in the house I lived in forty-five years ago. I have lived much of my life in London – the greatest city on earth – because of the people and the opportunities that it offers.

After a brief period as an infantry officer in the Black Watch before University, I moved back to London to join the Foreign Office. I then served overseas in Jakarta, as British representative to Montenegro in the wake of the Kosovo crisis, and ‎as the coalition Deputy-Governor of two provinces in the Marsh Arab region of Southern Iraq following the Iraq intervention of 2003. On leave from the Foreign Service I walked for 21 months crossing Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nepal, staying in 500 village houses on the journey.

From 2005 to 2008 I was the Chair and Chief Executive of the Turquoise Mountain Foundation based in Kabul, which I built from one to three hundred employees, working to restore a section of the old city, establish a clinic, primary school, and Arts Institute, and bring Afghan crafts to international markets.

In 2008 I was appointed as the Ryan Family Professor of the Practice of Human Rights and Director of the Carr Centre of Human Rights at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. 

I have been in Parliament since 2010, and was lucky enough to hold a number of ministerial positions, including Secretary of State for International Development. In this position, I put addressing the climate catastrophe at the heart of the department's work. Before that, I was the Minister for Prisons and I drove through practical changes - with a particular focus on London prisons - which led to historic reductions in levels of violence and drugs. 

This commitment to action - not talk - guided me through my nine years as MP for Penrith and The Border. In this role, I most enjoyed the opportunity to effect real change on the ground and - from introducing broadband, to saving the local college and cinema - am very proud of all that we accomplished. 

I am now running as an Independent to be Mayor of London and look forward to meeting you over the course of my walks.