BTS DARLINGTONS DIAMOND
An interview with Peter Gibson MP
How did you feel the moment you won your seat and what was the first thing you did?
When the exit poll was announced I was ecstatic but still unsure of my personal result until I had a call from the count. I was thrilled that the hard work of the previous year, of all the volunteers who came to help had paid off. It was a lifetime ambition fulfilled. Immediately the next day we went to meet local market traders in the centre of town who had been supportive of me, and spoke with the Chief Executive of our local hospital. Straight down to work.
Describe your first day in parliament.
The Blue Scarf brigade from Teesside all travelled down on the train together, accompanied by the media, who also covered us in the next day as we walked into Parliament. It was quite surreal, but exciting also.
What made you realise you're a conservative and at what point?
I've been working for the party from the age of 10 delivering leaflets and helping at elections, I joined the Young Conservatives at 16 and have been involved ever since. Becoming an MP is the culmination of all those years of hard work through tough times and good, being loyal to the party who I believe represent the best chances for a bright future for our country. As a business owner keen to do good work in my community the Conservative party is my home. The party of freedom, liberty, and a proud nation.
What is the hardest thing you've had to overcome since becoming an MP?
The workload is immense, it is life at a hundred miles an hour and spread of home, constituency and London. It is constant juggling and constant change. It’s hard on our families. Finding time to switch off and have a break is incredibly hard to do especially in the social media age and 24 hour news.
Have you had any negative experiences due to your sexuality since becoming an MP, if so, how have you dealt with that?
I can categorically say that my sexuality has not been an issue from the moment I was selected. Naturally I was concerned that it would be, but we live in a more enlightened age and with so many other LGBT members of the House there is plenty of understanding support. It wasn’t always like this and our party has moved on incredibly far but there is still more to do.
Why is it important to have LGBT+ representation?
In a representative democracy it is important to have people from all sorts of backgrounds with different experiences and a minority sexuality representation is, in my view, important to bring that perspective to Parliament - not to be a single issue campaigner on it but to demonstrate to your constituents, your fellow members of the of the LGBT community, and the country, that we are here and visible and have a voice.
What are your hopes for the Global LGBT+ Rights Summit?
The summit is an exciting opportunity to showcase to the world how far the UK has come. Lord Nick Herbert is going to be an incredible Chair and I am hoping that a local school from Darlington will be able to showcase their LGBT focussed artwork.
How do you balance representing your constituents whilst also holding a portfolio?
The role of PPS is very compatible with the Commons being the eyes and ears of Ministers to backbench issues relevant to the portfolio. Listening is one of the most underrated skills in Politics but for PPSs its essential and I'm told I'm a good listener.
Some people believe that voters in red wall seats are naturally hesitant or even hostile to LGBT+ rights and people. Do you think this is a true narrative?
No, not at all. As I said earlier it hasn't been an issue for me. I simply work hard in my constituency and in Westminster. Darlington has a small but vibrant LGBT community and I think it is appreciated that they have an MP that they have something in common with.
What is your favourite thing about your constituency?
The people are incredible. Direct, hardworking and challenging which I welcome. Darington has a lot to be proud of - railways, heritage, history, architecture but also a great future to look forward to especially with the Treasury Economic campus being located here.
What do you get up to in your free time?
Love walking the dogs - Clemmie the Jack Russell, and Peppy and Ebony the Labradors. A perfect day is a homemade Sunday Lunch made by my husband Gareth, after a long walk with the dogs and then relaxing in front of an open fire. Sadly every Sunday is not like that but that’s what I do like to do.
What is your favourite biscuit?
Do I only get to choose one? It has to have chocolate on it.