Cat Smith

Catherine Jane Smith[1] (born 16 June 1985)[2] is a British Labour Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Lancaster and Fleetwood since 2015.[3]

Cat Smith

Official portrait of Cat Smith MP crop 2.jpg
Smith in 2020
Shadow Minister of State for the Cabinet Office
Assumed office
7 January 2020
LeaderJeremy Corbyn
Keir Starmer
Preceded byJo Platt
Shadow Minister for Voter Engagement and Youth Affairs
Assumed office
27 June 2016
LeaderJeremy Corbyn
Keir Starmer
Preceded byGloria De Piero
Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons
In office
20 December 2016 – 18 July 2017
LeaderJeremy Corbyn
Keir Starmer
Preceded byMelanie Onn
Succeeded byKarin Smyth
Member of Parliament
for Lancaster and Fleetwood
Assumed office
7 May 2015
Preceded byEric Ollerenshaw
Majority2,380 (5.2%)
Personal details
Born
Catherine Jane Smith

(1985-06-16) 16 June 1985 (age 35)
Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, England
Political partyLabour
Spouse(s)
Ben Soffa (m. 2016)
Alma materLancaster University
WebsiteOfficial website

Early life and educationEdit

Smith was born in Barrow-in-Furness. She has said that she "didn't have a political upbringing". Her mother was a Methodist, and through going to church with her Smith became involved youth movements in the church. Her father was a trade unionist.[4] She attended Parkview School (in 2009 this merged into Furness Academy) and Barrow Sixth Form College. In 2003, she began studying for a bachelor's degree at Lancaster University. She was a member of Cartmel College and initially studied religious studies, but switched to a joint honours degree in sociology and gender studies, from which she graduated in 2006.[5][6] Smith was elected the Women's Officer for Lancaster University Students' Union, a sabbatical role, and served in the 2006–2007 academic year.[5]

Political careerEdit

Early political careerEdit

Smith first stood for election as a Labour Party candidate for the University Ward on Lancaster City Council in 2007. She came fifth with 98 votes.[4] Smith supported John McDonnell for leader in the 2007 Labour Party leadership election.[7] In the same year, she was a candidate for Labour Party National Executive Committee (NEC) Youth Representative.[8]

Smith worked as an office manager for the Christian Socialist Movement from 2007 to 2009 before working as a research and constituency worker for three Members of Parliament (MPs) from 2009 to 2012: Jeremy Corbyn, Katy Clark, and Bob Marshall-Andrews.[5] Smith was the Labour Party candidate for Wyre and Preston North constituency in the 2010 general election, but she was unsuccessful and came in a narrow third behind the Liberal Democrat candidate. In 2020 she told Lancs Live, "I had been called because there was no Wyre and Preston candidate for Labour... I wasn't expecting to win but I was happy to make the case for Labour to the consistuents."[4]

In 2010–2011, Smith was chair of Compass Youth.[9] In 2011, a majority of the Compass Youth committee, including Smith, resigned in protest at Compass' decision to become a cross-party body. Those that resigned set up a new organisation called Next Generation Labour, which Smith chaired for a period.[10] From 2012 to 2015, Smith worked as a campaigns and policy officer for the British Association of Social Workers (BASW). In 2013, she was selected as the Labour candidate to contest Lancaster and Fleetwood constituency at the next election.[5]

Member of ParliamentEdit

Smith won Lancaster and Fleetwood in the 2015 general election, defeating the Conservative incumbent Eric Ollerenshaw.[5] Smith became a member of the Socialist Campaign Group within the Parliamentary Labour Party after her election.[11] Following Labour's overall defeat, however, party leader Ed Miliband resigned. In the ensuing leadership election, Smith was a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn's candidacy and was one of 36 Labour MPs to nominate him for leader.[12] In June 2015, Smith was elected as chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Cuba.[13] In July, she was one of 48 Labour MPs to defy the whip and vote against the Welfare Reform and Work Bill.[14]

Following Corbyn's election as Labour leader, Smith was appointed as a shadow minister in the Women & Equalities Office, working under Kate Green.[15]

She has been critical of the 2016 European Union referendum, saying that younger people preferred to remain in the EU, while the majority result was to leave.[16]

Shadow MinisterEdit

On 27 June 2016 Smith entered the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Minister for Voter Engagement and Youth Affairs.[17] This followed on from a series of resignations of shadow ministers who had lost confidence in Corbyn's leadership.[18] On 6 April 2020, Smith was re-appointed to her shadow cabinet role by the newly elected Labour Party Leader, Keir Starmer.[citation needed]

In addition to her other duties, Smith acts as Shadow Deputy Leader of the House, in which role she made her debut at the Despatch Box on 20 December 2016.[19]

ExpensesEdit

On 24 May 2016, Lancashire Constabulary announced that an investigation had been opened following allegations that Smith broke election spending laws by spending thousands of pounds more than she declared.[20][21] In June 2016, Lancashire Constabulary were granted a year-long extension to investigate Smith's election expenses,[22] and in November 2016 they cleared Smith of any wrongdoing.[23]

Personal lifeEdit

Smith married her partner of eleven years, Ben Soffa, in September 2016.[24] Soffa has worked as head of digital organising for the Labour Party since 2015. In July 2018, Smith gave birth to the couple's first child.[25] She identifies as bisexual.[26]

In 2010, Smith was diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), which she says has affected her energy levels, and which she uses medication to control.[27]

Smith is a Methodist.[28]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Statement of Persons Nominated and Notice of Poll". Lancaster City Council. Archived from the original on 18 April 2015. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  2. ^ "Biography for Cat Smith". MyParliament. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  3. ^ "Lancaster & Fleetwood". BBC News. bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  4. ^ a b c Moffitt, Dominic (15 March 2020). "Why Lancaster and Fleetwood MP Cat Smith never wanted a career in politics". Lancs Live. Retrieved 26 June 2020.
  5. ^ a b c d e Foster, Dawn (26 September 2017). "Cat Smith MP: 'Tory policies have led to a huge waste of potential'". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 June 2020.
  6. ^ Bennett, Owen (25 August 2015). "Cat Smith talks Jeremy Corbyn, Jesus Christ and Why 'Socialism' Isn't 'Radical'". Huffington Post. Retrieved 26 June 2020.
  7. ^ Smith, Cat (12 May 2009). "You've made your bed; now lie in it". LabourList. Retrieved 26 June 2020.
  8. ^ "Interview with Labour Party NEC Youth Rep candidates". Compass Youth. 4 February 2007. Retrieved 26 June 2020.
  9. ^ Smith, Cat (22 December 2010). "Compass Youth – sticking with the Labour Party". LabourList. Retrieved 26 June 2020.
  10. ^ Smith, Cat (13 June 2011). ""Next Generation Labour" launched". LabourList. Retrieved 26 June 2020.
  11. ^ Wintour, Patrick; Watt, Nicholas (25 September 2015). "The Corbyn earthquake – how Labour was shaken to its foundations". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 June 2020.
  12. ^ "Who nominated who for the 2015 Labour leadership election?". New Statesman. 15 June 2015. Retrieved 26 June 2020.
  13. ^ "New All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Cuba". Cuba Solidarity Campaign. 24 June 2015. Retrieved 26 June 2020.
  14. ^ Smith, Cat (21 July 2015). "Labour MP: why I voted against party on welfare bill". ITV News. Retrieved 26 June 2020.
  15. ^ Anoosh, Chakelian (18 September 2015). "Jeremy Corbyn's shadow cabinet: the full list of ministers". New Statesman. Retrieved 26 June 2020.
  16. ^ "Lancaster MP Cat Smith says voters have been misled yet again". Lancaster Guardian. 24 June 2016. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  17. ^ "MP Cat Smith promoted to shadow cabinet". Lancaster Evening Post. 27 June 2016. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  18. ^ "Labour Shadow Cabinet resignations". The Guardian. 26 June 2016. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  19. ^ "Commons Debates 20 December 2016, Column 1408". Hansard. 20 December 2016.
  20. ^ Staff writer (24 May 2016). "Labour MP Cat Smith denies improper expenses claim". BBC News. Retrieved 24 May 2016.
  21. ^ Casalicchio, Emilio (24 May 2016). "Police probe into Labour frontbencher Cat Smith's election expenses". PoliticsHome. Retrieved 24 May 2016.
  22. ^ Crick, Michael (13 June 2016). "Did Labour's Battlebus operation break the rules?". Channel 4 News. Retrieved 13 June 2016.
  23. ^ "Police drop Lancaster MP expenses investigation". The Bay Radio. 11 November 2016. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  24. ^ "Barrow-born MP weds her partner with Labour leader among the guests". North West Evening Mail. 13 October 2016. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  25. ^ "Lancaster and Fleetwood MP Cat Smith has given birth to a baby boy". Lancaster Guardian. 11 October 2016. Retrieved 14 January 2018.
  26. ^ Duffy, Nick (18 September 2015). "Labour appoints bisexual MP Cat Smith to equalities role". Pink News. Retrieved 26 June 2020.
  27. ^ @catsmithmp (1 January 2020). "2010: got diagnosis of POTS and with medication started feeling great! Used new energy to..." (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  28. ^ "Hansard" (PDF). publications.parliament.uk. UK Parliament. 2 January 2016. Lancaster is famous for its nonconformist residents, so as a Methodist I feel I am in good company. I am pleased to be making my maiden speech in the debate on Britain in the world, because it was my faith that led me into politics, through the campaigns to drop third world debt and the campaign for fair trade.

External linksEdit

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Eric Ollerenshaw
Member of Parliament for Lancaster and Fleetwood
2015–present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Gloria De Piero
as Shadow Minister for Young People and Voter Registration
Shadow Minister for Voter Engagement and Youth Affairs
2016–present
Incumbent