Labour MPs: Favourite films and books over Christmas, New Year’s resolutions

Elliot Chappell

Over the festive break, we asked Labour MPs for their favourite film seen and book read during the Christmas period, as well as their top New Year’s resolution. From popular choices Spider-Man and Don’t Look Up to one pledge to kill fewer houseplants in 2022, here’s what they told us…

Nick Thomas-Symonds, MP for Torfaen and Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade. “My favourite book that I have read over Christmas: Silverview by John Le Carre. Films: all the Harry Potter films that my children have been watching. My favourite: Goblet of Fire. Top New Year’s resolution: more jogging when in London.”

Jonathan Ashworth, MP for Leicester South and Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary. “Film. Without question Spider-Man: No Way Home. I became hooked on the MCU films in the first lockdown watching them all with my two daughters. I’m now a total MCU obsessive. After each film and TV series I head to YouTube to watch YouTubers who are experts in the MCU explaining all the Easter eggs and hidden details I might have missed. My favourite is a guy in South Shields called ‘heavy spoilers’!

“TV Series. It’s a sin. I’ll rewatch over Xmas. It was both beautiful and devastating. And a powerful reminder we’re still – all these years later – living with and responding to the HIV pandemic. The TV series inspired me to work with Terrence Higgins Trust to campaign for Covid vaccination in HIV clinics. A campaign we were successful with in the end. A victory I’m really really proud of.

“Books. I’m a voracious reader and take a book everywhere I go. My fiction book of the year is Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart. The alcoholism and poverty echoes some of my own childhood experiences are two issues I’m passionate about in politics and determined to tackle.

“I’m spending Xmas reading two fascinating non-fiction books. The New Long Life by Andrew J Scott and Lynda Gratton is about how longevity and ageing is set to fundamentally change society just as much as other trends like automaton and technological advancement. With more and more people set to live to 100 how do we expand healthy life span and what does that mean for society in terms of public services, work, savings and assets. This is a big theme I’ll be returning to in the New Year in my DWP brief.

“Secondly, After the Virus by Hilary Cooper and Simon Szreter – a powerful account of how deep inequalities in society have been exacerbated by Covid but also placed in an historical context going back to the Elizabethan poor laws. As someone passionate about defeating poverty it’s a fascinating read.”

Preet Kaur Gill, MP for Birmingham Edgbaston and shadow cabinet minister for international development. Favourite film – Nightbooks – actually had an opportunity to watch it with my children. New Year’s resolution – to campaign to vaccinate the world and spend less time on toxic Twitter.”

Sarah Owen, MP for Luton North and opposition whip. “My favourite film I watched over Christmas was Encanto – it’s the first film we have watched altogether as a family. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to kill fewer houseplants.”

Stephen Morgan, MP for Portsmouth South and shadow minister for schools. Don’t Look Up on Netflix was a scathing bit of satire that bordered on the ridiculous but was an enjoyable watch. At times it was a reminder of the reality of modern day politics and the challenges presented to our values by populist leaders. New Year’s resolution is to finally put sports gear into action by joining a new gym opening in the constituency, or failing that improve my baking skills.”

Mike Amesbury, MP for Weaver Vale and shadow minister for levelling up. “Not sure if this fits the bill Elliot but watched a great stage production of Oliver Twist at the Storyhouse Theatre in Chester. Classic tracks from The Jam, Clash and the Smiths were thread into the story. Worked well and my 11-year-old boy, Ted loved it.”

Tonia Antoniazzi, MP for Gower and shadow minister for Northern Ireland. “Nothing says Christmas like watching thrillers and I enjoyed The Unforgivable on Netflix. New Year’s Resolution is to keep my step count high, which should be easier with local elections in May. If any LabourList readers have the same resolution, Gower is an amazing place to visit, and I’m happy to sort them out with a leaflet round.”

Nick Smith, MP for Blaenau Gwent. “Favourite film was King of Thieves, a great heist movie on the iPlayer. Best book has been The Secret World: a history of intelligence. Written by Christopher Andrew. New Year’s resolution is to try and improve my parkrun personal best time.”

Luke Pollard, MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport. “Favourite film: Don’t Look Up. A triumph on Netflix with a superb cast. The film is wonderfully written and a timely reminder of how our politics and our politicians often are the cause of our own destruction.

“Favourite Book: The New Snobbery by David Skelton. Someone who the Tory Party should spend more time listening to, but thankfully don’t. A good blue version to read alongside LOTO’s Claire Ainsley’s similar offering The New Working Class if you want to get a take from both sides of the political spectrum.

“New Year’s resolutions: swim more in Plymouth Sound! It’s a great way of washing away the daily troubles and inconveniences of life, good exercise and a must do if you’re ever visiting Plymouth.”

Charlotte Nichols, MP for Warrington North. “I’ve not actually watched any films over Christmas, but have been binging Succession, which is as good as everyone says – currently halfway through season two!

“Books-wise: I’ve really enjoyed How to Change Your Mind: The New Science of Psychedelics by Michael Pollan (I’m really interested in the research in this area for the treatment of mental health), and John Stonehouse, My Father by Julia Stonehouse (a fascinating read on the Labour MP who unsuccessfully faked his own death in the ’70s and how much parliament has changed in the meantime). Fiction-wise, I’ve mostly been reading a lot of thrillers over recess, which isn’t very festive, but The Dark by Emma Haughton has lots of snow in it at least!

“My New Year’s resolution is to spend more time with my family, having barely seen them over the last two years between the new job and the pandemic! Having some proper quality time with them in person this Christmas, after our plans were scuppered last year, has really brought home the importance of that.”

Wayne David, MP for Caerphilly. “Favourite film. Having just decided to step down from being shadow minister for the Middle East and North Africa, I again watched Casablanca. Just as brilliant as I remember it.

“Book. I have just read Orphans of Empire: The Fate of London’s Foundlings by Helen Berry. A heart-breaking read about what happened to the abandoned and orphaned children of the London Foundling Hospital before the welfare state.

“New Year’s resolution. Now by choice on the backbenches, I want to do all I can to help Labour be in a position to win the next general election.”

Ben Bradshaw, MP for Exeter. “I’ve enjoyed reading Sebastian Payne’s Broken Heartlands, because its gloomy prognosis of Labour’s predicament post 2019 election shows how quickly things can change, with Labour now consistently ahead in the polls under Keir’s leadership and Johnson’s premiership in crisis. We’ve been catching up on friends’ viewing recommendations over Christmas, having watched hardly anything during the year and are currently enjoying Call My Agent. No resolutions during Covid. Life’s too unpredictable.”

Kate Osborne, MP for Jarrow. “Top film has to be the new Spider-Man film, although I enjoyed another viewing of A Christmas Story. Book – Always Red – Len McCluskey. New Year’s resolutions – work hard, walk more, drink less, enjoy life.”

Stella Creasy, MP for Walthamstow. “Thanks for asking – in truth the only films i’ve seen this year have been chosen by a small child. That’s why my New Year’s resolution is to apply to Mastermind with a specialist topic of any film with the Minions in, and thus make good use of the hours I have already lost to her obsession…”

Sarah Champion, MP for Rotherham. Tenet – such a classy film. To try and create more work/life balance – I’ve failed for the last nine years!”

Thank you to all who contributed. Responses were lightly edited for clarity.

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