The Bim Afolami Interview: Harpenden’s new MP on his first few months in the job

Hitchin & Harpenden MP Bim Afolami outside the Houses of Parliament. Picture: Danny Loo

Hitchin & Harpenden MP Bim Afolami outside the Houses of Parliament. Picture: Danny Loo - Credit: Archant

Harpenden’s new MP says his new place of work is a weird mix between loneliness and camaraderie - even amongst political opponents.

Bim Afolami being interviewed for The Herts Advertiser.

Bim Afolami being interviewed for The Herts Advertiser. - Credit: Archant

In the first instalment from his exclusive interview with The Herts Advertiser, Bim Afolami spoke about his few months in the job.

“I think the way I would describe is it’s a weird mix between loneliness, in you are making individual choices, and people will take your views on x from those choices.

“Ultimately it’s just me here, and every day you are making decisions about quite major things in peoples’ lives.

“My surgery last week was quite busy, and there were people asking for advice on dealing with HMRC.

Hitchin & Harpenden MP Bim Afolami inside the Houses of Parliament. Picture: Danny Loo

Hitchin & Harpenden MP Bim Afolami inside the Houses of Parliament. Picture: Danny Loo - Credit: Archant

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“On the other hand, there is a huge sense of camaraderie amongst Conservative MPs, and dare I say Labour and the Lib Dems as well.”

The son of Nigerian-born doctor for a father and a British pharmacist for a mother, attended Eton and Oxford Unversity, where he graduated in modern history.

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He first stood for the Lewisham Deptford seat in 2015, before winning Hitchin and Harpenden in June.

Despite only having been in the Commons a few months, Mr Afolami has already been quite busy.

He has been nominated for the public accounts committee, a powerful cross-party body of MPs.

He explained: “The public accounts committee is the oldest select committee, established by William Gladstone [Victorian prime minister].

“Its project is to make sure taxpayers’ money is spent effectively.

“We investigate things such as HS2, and ask if its money well spent and if the project is being run effectively.

“We may choose to inspect road projects or government IT projects, or any changes to customs because of Brexit.”

On his aims for the committee, he said: “The most important thing is whether taxpayers’ money is being spent effectively, and that may seem quite boring, but it really matters, because government embarks on a huge number of projects each year.

“There is always the fanfare around what they are going to do, but what does not get the follow-up is how are we doing it? Is that the best way of doing that? That is how I propose to spend my time on the public accounts committee, on behalf of my constituents, to see government projects are being done the right way.”

However the 31-year-old former lawyer won’t be spending all his time holding civil servants to account.

He also plans to raise the issues brought to his attention by constituents.

“Locally, I am focused on schools; it was part of my maiden speech [the first speech new MPs make to Parliament].

“Government has given £1.3bn to schools, something MPs including myself pushed for.

“In the autumn, I am meeting with school to see how the money will be spent.

“Recruitment of teachers is also something I am working on.”

“I will also be keeping an eye on Thameslink, and keeping pressure on them to see that the service improves not worsens, and we do not get delays.

Another of his priorities is to help small and medium-sized businesses.

Afolami previously worked as a senior executive for HSBC, and as a mentor for young people.

“Financial services are important, but actually we have a lot of people who run businesses like my wife, so we really need to have more focus on that.

“If the Conservative party is not for small business, who is?

“That’s a real area I’m focused on, and I will speak to the Chancellor of the Exchequer in my budget submission.”

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