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Who is Martyn Pennington?

May 14, 2017 7:00 PM
By Martyn Pennington

Martyn Pennington 2017I was born in Bolton, Lancashire. My father was a sales engineer; when he left school his father, a partner in the company, made him start work on the shop floor like the others (he led a strike against his father at the age of 19!). He didn't go to university and always told me to get some letters after my name. My mother left school at 12 and became a legal secretary. We moved to the north-east when I was just three months old.

I got a scholarship to go to a good (independent) grammar school in Newcastle and then to University College London, to study languages. Eager to see the world, I spent two years teaching English in a secondary school in Madagascar - the 'development bug' had got me and I started work in the UK's Ministry of Overseas Development after a course in economics in Norwich. I joined the Liberals in 1984 because I agreed with their policies on small businesses and industrial ownership, and their support for EU membership. Following that I gradually learnt more about development and specialised in aid effectiveness, working with the major agencies such as the World Bank, the European Commission, and the United Nations on the evaluation of development and humanitarian aid.

My father died at 73 but my mother still lived for 20 years after that, in Bromley. She became a victim of the scam which is the "care of the elderly" and I experienced at first hand the injustices of the present system. I re-joined the Liberal Democrats in 2014, the year I retired, because as a Christian I was increasingly concerned by the insular and xenophobic tone of the UK political debate. I am vice-chair of Westgate-on- Sea Town Council, and enjoy helping to solve problems at the local level (for instance, litter-picking with 'Westgate against rubbish'!) and making more of Westgate's amazing history. I love sport (a lifelong Newcastle supporter) and play guitar in church worship bands. I have three daughters, and two granddaughters, whose progress I follow avidly.

I'm angry about the present Government's incompetence and downright unwillingness to solve key problems in the life of our country. Because of inadequate funding and mismanagement, doctors are packing up, hundreds of carers are leaving the profession every week, schools are sacking teachers, police are fewer and fewer, we have chaos onnSouthern Rail and the Minister does nothing, yet at the same time tax evasion loopholes are quietly left open and tax dodgers seem to carry regardless. Global warming and climate change don't bother these Tories. We have had the same MP for 34 years, yet Thanet is still much poorer than most of Kent.

I think in coalition we achieved an awful lot in difficult circumstances (better parental leave, free school meals for young children, the pupil premium to help children of poorer families, more apprenticeships, higher income-tax thresholds for low earners, the triple-lock pension, the 'greening' of our energy industries) and we could do far more in government, with ideas such as a reformed health system.