Biography

Liam was born just outside Liverpool into an Anglo-Irish family with roots in Birmingham dating back to 1805. His parents, a comprehensive school science teacher and a local government officer, were given their break in life by Labour’s post-war welfare state and spent their lives in public service.

Liam was educated at comprehensive schools, joined the Labour party aged 15, and later Unite, and took his first job in McDonalds. He came top of his class at Manchester University, winning the Robert Mackenzie prize for political science and the leadership of Manchester Student Union, before going onto to win a Fulbright scholarship to the Harvard Business School where he took his MBA with honours. When he came home he started a fast-growing software company – and a family with his wife Sarah.

When Liam’s mum died of cancer aged just 52, Liam resolved to leave business and follow his parents into public life. In 2004, he fought and lost his first council election in Birmingham, where five generations of his family lived and worked, and then won the hard-fought Hodge Hill by-election months later.

Since then, Liam has fought tooth and nail for new investment in his constituency, helping secure £167 million for new schools, health-centres, libraries and housing. He helped build a network of social entrepreneurs and community activists – and by competing in tri-athalons and half marathons, has raised thousands for local police and cancer charities. He doubled his majority two General Elections in row in 2010 and 2015 winning the biggest Labour majority in Birmingham.

In Westminster, Liam has been asked to do some of the hardest jobs in government – in the Home Office, Downing Street and HM Treasury, creating the UK Border Agency, reorganising No 10 for Gordon Brown, and drawing up Labour’s deficit reduction plan for Alistair Darling. As the West Midlands first regional minister he helped deliver £400 million for the new New Street station. In Opposition, Liam has chaired Labour’s policy review, led the Shadow DWP team and served as the Shadow Minister for Universities, Science and Skills.

Liam is the author of over twenty books and pamphlets about Britain’s future and is a passionate advocate of closer ties between Britain and Asia. His book Turning to Face the East was published by Guardian Books in 2013. He sits on the board of the GB-China Centre, a member of the Social Market Foundation’s Policy Advisory Board and a patron of Chinese for Labour.

He is also the author of the Road to Full Employment (Fabians 2013), Reinventing Government Again (SMF, 2009) and Local Government Transformed (Baseline, 2005). He is governor of the Institute of Government and lives in Birmingham with Sarah, their children Alex, John and Lizzie and a highly excitable pointer, Soda.

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