'I had little in the way of education – lads from my community didn’t stay on in school, we left as soon as we could, put on a hard hat and went down the pit' and in his maiden speech as a Member of Parliament last year said : "I am originally from Nottinghamshire. At 15, I left school on a Friday and started down the pit on the Monday morning. I had no qualifications to speak of."
‘fired his enthusiasm’ for politics.
At the age of thirty and out on strike in the massive 1984 coalmining dispute, he was an enthusiastic NUM member and colliery rep. For a number of reasons, the Nottinghamshire miners were less militant than their Yorkshire counterparts and Harry and his 60 fellow miners at the colliery, who remained loyal until the strike ended in 1985, found themselves suddenly living in a hostile village where former friends would not look him in the eye. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfshBtU2r3o&t=0m23s
Along with the other strikers at Clipstone, Harry had been led and probably shared the sentiments of fellow coal-face worker, John Lowe, who recorded at the end of the strike : 'This report is the hardest I’ve ever had to try and write. I feel so full of emotion – anger, frustration, shame, bewilderment. I’m finding great difficulty in putting my thoughts together. Mid-afternoon the news came through that the conference had decided narrowly, ninety-eight to ninety-one, that the strike was at an end. My wife cried tears for me that I couldn’t cry for myself; they’ll probably come later.'
With his first hand experience of the struggle between the NUM and the Thatcher Government it is not surprising that he said : 'For someone from my background who had experienced what a Tory government meant for people like me and communities like mine, joining the Labour Party was a given. I joined because then, as now, working people have never been handed change, we've had to fight for it and I wanted to play my part.'
"I live in the real world. I get it." In 2012 he was elected as Deputy Leader of the Council in 2012 and not unsurprisingly, chaired the 'Primary Capital Programme' to ensure primary schools were fully equipped for 21st Century learning and was justifiably proud to have 'led a delegation to Downing Street to secure half a billion pounds of funding for local schools.'
In addition, as Cabinet member for 'Homes and Neighbourhoods', he oversaw the implementation of the £700 million 'Decent Homes Programme' in the City, a massive undertaking as Sheffield has twice the national average number of council homes, and successfully brought council housing back under municipal control from an arm’s length company and said that he was 'incredibly proud to have overseen the biggest expansion of Council housing in Sheffield for 20 years by bringing stock back in house and building new houses too.'
He also 'led the charge to make our Council a living wage employer - a fair day's work should always mean a fair day's pay' and expanded recycling across our city as Cabinet member for 'Streetscene and Waste Management' and made the decision to stand as an MP : 'because time and again people say they don't want politicians who are 'all the same'. I'm an ordinary bloke who used to work down for the pit for a living. I've worried about pay the bills like everyone else here. I think I fit the bill of someone who has lived a 'real life'.
“I thought you’re mad! But actually I was quite proud that people thought I was able to do that job so I talked it over with my family and decided to go for it. I heard all the time how I’ve got huge shoes to fill."
He was out and about on the streets of Sheffield drumming up votes in the General Election in April 2015 where he explained to first time voter Saeed Amin : "The Conservative Government only looks after those who have plenty. They believe that those at the top should get more and it trickles down to the rest of society, which has been proved wrong time and again and only Labour will create an economy that works for everybody so that everybody gains from the economic recovery." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6rgwzuSD7Ms&t=1m59s
“It gives me a unique perspective and a different voice that we don’t usually get in Westminster. I didn’t come up through the usual ranks.” Ideally suited to serve as the Parliamentary Aide to Shadow Energy Secretary, Lisa Nandy, he also served on the 'Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee.' He was a member of the 'All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group' and registered his support for the 'Brain Tumour All Party Parliamentary Group' which had been set up by John Bercow in 2005 : 'To raise awareness of the issues facing the brain tumour community in order to improve research, diagnosis, information, support, treatment and care outcomes.'
Harry said in his Maiden Speech in the House of Commons in June last year : "I got into politics because I know the good that can be done by public servants working in the interest of the communities they serve. From the Opposition green Benches, I will do what I can to protect those services from ideological attacks that would reduce them to a shadow and leave those they serve paying the price."
He was perfectly attuned to the needs of his more needy constituents and stated : "Much of the so-called economic recovery in our area has come in the form of low-paid, zero-hours contract work, leaving families unable to budget from one week to the next. Despite the Chancellor's crowing, far too many of my constituents are still struggling to make ends meet. There are 6,000 households in my constituency living in fuel poverty, 14% of the total in the whole of the Yorkshire and the Humber region. That is one of the issues I will take up vigorously over the coming weeks and months."
"The Prime Minister may be aware and should be aware that Sheffield Forgemasters announced this morning a loss of a hundred jobs in this crisis-hit industry. Many of those jobs will be in my constituency. We have had lots of warm words, hand wringing and some crocodile tears from the Prime Minister and Ministers in this Chamber about the tsunami of job losses across the steel industry. Can he tell me when he's actually going to do something to support world class companies like Sheffield Forgemasters." http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03g1jv3?ns_mchannel=social
“If somebody had told me as a 16-year-old starting down the pit that one day I’d end up representing a constituency sitting on the green benches at the heart of democracy, there would have been a few choice words and I’d have never of believed it.”