On a rainy Wednesday afternoon, I met Labour MP Ruth Cadbury at my school. With a manner quite unlike the bashfulness of many politicians, she filled the room with a very understated presence, not an unyielding socialist ideologue, but still very passionate about the issues she cares about. 

I first asked her about Jeremy Corbyn, who was supported very earlier on by her and then sacked her from her position of Shadow Housing Secretary for voting in favour of a rebel amendment submitted by Europhile labour MPs to stay in the EU. Nevertheless, she was still very complimentary of Corbyn, repeating the oft said words that he’s ‘a really nice bloke’. Given the number of labour MPs who have said that before, we can either conclude that Labour has become a totalitarian party dedicated to affirming the niceness of Jeremy Corbyn, or that he is indeed a nice bloke.

Surprisingly, she also described him as ‘a real team player’, odd given that he fired her for rebelling. Although a cynic may well say that she would say that because she broadly supports him, but nevertheless there did seem to be a genuine level of affection from her towards Jeremy Corbyn. However, she was still willing to criticise him on that most divisive of issues, Brexit, saying that ‘he needs to be stronger on issues such as Europe, and if he can’t stop Brexit we at least need to stay in the single market’, possibly a reflection of her liberal West London constituency of Hounslow.

She is also a Quaker, a descendant of that famous Quaker that founded the Cadbury chocolate company. One of 3 Quaker MPs, she takes her beliefs very seriously, almost to an uncompromising extent. She has consistently, throughout her short time in Parliament, voted against any use of violence, including bombing ISIS in Syria, and told me that ‘whips always knew about my Quaker beliefs’, although given the non interventionist foreign policy of Jeremy Corbyn it is difficult to see this being a problem.be 

However, despite being deeply passionate about national politics, her calling seems to be one of a ‘pavement warrior’, with strong opinions about local issues, especially relating to youth involvement in politics, Heathrow expansion, and Uber. 

With terrible participation rates and turnout, youth involvement in politics is becoming a serious flaw in our democracy, and Ruth Cadbury agreed, saying that ‘political parties are very often unfriendly places for young people’, and arguing that to improve this constituency parties need to form youth associations. Heathrow expansion, one of the most important local issues, was an issue which she seemed at home debating on, a determined campaigner against Heathrow expansion. Instead, she said Gatwick expansion would be better, telling me that ‘an extra runway at Gatwick would effect 15000 people, while at Heathrow this would be 300000’, and also arguing that Northern infrastructure should be focused on instead. Finally, as for Uber, London Labour’s favourite bogeyman, she took the conventional view, criticising it for poor competency and saying it is as ‘cheap as possible’.

Ruth Cadbury wasn’t the usual MP when I met her, far more down to earth and less prone to oratorical flourishes, and seems to represent just the kind of pragmatic non sectarian model of MP that Labour may soon need to end its civil war.

By Alfie Watkins, Hampton School