More about Parmjit Dhanda
Parmjit’s parents came to West London in the 1960s from Punjab in search of a better life. His father (Balbir) worked as a lorry driver and his mother (Satvinder) was a cleaner at Ealing Hospital.
Whilst a cleaner at the Hospital, the NUPE trade union (now Unison) offered to send Satvinder on an English language course if she would, in return, take up the challenge of becoming a union shop steward, representing her fellow cleaners at the hospital.
After attending a state education in West London (including Mellow Lane Comprehensive in Hayes), Parmjit went to Nottingham University where he did a degree in electronic Engineering, followed by a Masters Degree in information technology.
On leaving university he went on to work for the Labour Party as a Campaigns Organiser in West London and also the West of England at the 1997 General election. He presided over the successful elections of Steve Pound (Ealing North), Piara Khabra (Ealing Southall), Clive Soley (Ealing, Acton and Shepherds Bush), Michael Wills (Swindon North) and Julia Drown (Swindon South).
In 1998 he co-ordinated the Ealing Council elections campaign for the Labour Party which saw the Party win with a landslide. Parmjit was himself elected as a councillor for the council ward of Yeading (where he lived) on Hillingdon Council in 1998. In 1999, aged 28, he became the youngest European Parliamentary Candidate in the country.
At 29, Parmjit was elected as Member of Parliament for Gloucester on June 7th 2001 with a majority of 3,880 – the first BAME MP in the region’s history. He rebelled on the Iraq war in the 2001-2005 Parliament and built a strong reputation as a campaigning local MP, helping to gain record investment for his constituency.
In his time as the local MP he worked to ensure a £30 million redevelopment of the local hospital was completed, he intervened to ensure completion of a £22 million police headquarters and the constituency attained university status with a £20 million university campus. With the backing of the Labour government he helped set up an urban regeneration company for the constituency and then personally oversaw delicate negotiations between Peel Holdings, British Waterways and the Regional Development Agency to build a £35 million further education college and a £200 million shopping centre in the Docks. This resulted in over 1,000 local retail and construction jobs.
In 2005 he was returned with an increased majority of 4,240 to Parliament and subsequently was asked to join the government. He served as a whip with responsibility for the Department of Trade and Industry (from May 2005 to May 2006), as an education minister (May 2006 to June 2007) and as a Communities Minister with responsibility for Community Cohesion and for the Fire and Rescue Service (June 2007 to September 2008) in Gordon Brown’s government.
In 2009 he fought a high profile and radical campaign to be Speaker of the House of Commons, winning plaudits for his hustings speech from all three party leaders (speech can be viewed on front page of this site).
Parmjit is married to Rupi, a family lawyer, and they have two sons aged 10 and 7.
Parmjit is a regular contributor to Labourlist, The Huffington Post and other media outlets. He recently commissioned and published research in the Guardian about the ethnic diversity gap between parliamentary parties and their electorates.
Since leaving Parliament he has lead campaigns on equality, a pay review body for the civil service, more diversity in STEM careers, new investment in renewable energy and for new government procurement rules that recognise better workplace rights.