Politics from the flames
Jim Fitzpartick talks to Lizzie Meagher about making the transition from fireman to MP
Although Glasgow-born, Jim Fitzpatrick has been passionately committed to the East End of London since his arrival here in the capital in 1973. He has always harboured an interest in politics, but remarkably began his career as a fire-fighter. During his 23 years with the fire brigade, he was an active member of the union, and became increasingly involved with the Labour Party as a result.
Jim explains that his interest in politics has been with him since childhood. He grins as he reminisces: "I aspired to be a professional politician in the way that other boys aspired to be professional footballers. I even started my own political party in school when I was 16." Jim's youthful enthusiasm never waned; combined with his natural integrity, his efforts won him the nomination for the constituency of Poplar and Limehouse since May 2010 and, in 1997, his dream was realised when he took his seat in Westminster as an MP.
He sees his role not as that of a lofty politician, but as a supporter of causes. "I am here to promote the East End of London. My chief aim is to assist local businesses in any way that I can, because the future prosperity of my constituents hinges on the success of local business." He views his parliamentary seat as one of the most exciting in Britain. "The challenge is to bring the wealth generated at Canary Wharf to the local community. We need to introduce the local workforce to the thriving business community that is Canary Wharf.
"The Canary Wharf Group has been instrumental in addressing this issue. It has donated large sums of money to local schools and set-up vital employment schemes such as Skills-match. This recruitment agency ensures that as many jobs as possible are filled by local workers. It has introduced a number of local Bangladeshi graduates to firms based at Canary Wharf and has thus brought the two communities together.
"It is inspiring to see the affluent new businesses at Canary Wharf reaching out to the local people. There are more opportunities in this area now than ever before. And, with both communities joining forces, future prosperity is assured."