LABOUR’S new MP Dan Jarvis celebrated his Barnsley Central by-election win today - saying David Cameron and Nick Clegg are paying the price for their “reckless policies”, writes digital editor Graham Walker.
In his acceptance speech - press the play button to watch it in full - he said: “The people of Barnsley Central are sending the strongest possible message to David Cameron and Nick Clegg.
“Your reckless policies, your broken promises and your unfair cuts are letting our country down.
“I grew up in Margaret Thatcher’s Britain. I remember how angry it made me feel. Whole communities abandoned to unemployment, public services run down, talents wasted, opportunities taken away.
“Thatcher was wrong then and Cameron is wrong now.”
The by-election was caused by the resignation of Eric Illsley, the former Labour MP who was jailed for 12 months in February for expenses fraud.
Former Parachute Regiment officer Mr Jarvis’s background is a long way from the coal mining and trade union heritage you might expect from the new representative for Barnsley Central.
But the 38-year-old father-of-two is also a far cry from the much talked about new breed of professional candidate.
When his supporters say Mr Jarvis has “seen a bit of the world”, they really do mean some of the more dangerous corners of our globe.
He resigned from the Army to fight the Barnsley Central by-election after his unexpected selection, ending a 15-year-long career.
Before that, his postings read like a check-list of British military deployments in the last decade-and-a-half.
He was a major with 1 Para, which forms the bulk of the Special Forces Support Group which, as the name suggests, supports operations by Britain’s special forces.
Major Jarvis did a six month tour of Afghanistan as a company commander with this elite unit.
Before this, he was part of the team which made the first reconnaissance trips to Helmand Province in late 2005 and early 2006, ahead of the decision to commit British troops to the south of the country.
Mr Jarvis recalled that when the 100th soldier was killed in Afghanistan he looked at the list of those who died and knew 10 of them personally.
In 1999, as a platoon commander with 3 Para, he was at Pristina Airport, in Kosovo, when General Sir Mike Jackson famously refused to confront Russian forces, telling his American superior: “Sir, I’m not going to start World War Three for you.”
“It was very surreal moment in my life,” the new MP said.
Mr Jarvis later became General Jackson’s personal staff officer.
His other deployments included a stint in Northern Ireland, helping 3 Para move into Iraq in 2003 and advising on Iraqi elections.
In 2000, he was sent to Sierra Leone to help the Army learn the lessons from the kidnapping of a group of British soldiers who were sprung in a dramatic rescue operation by the SAS and Paras.
Brought up in Nottingham and having gone to Sandhurst Military Academy straight from his International Politics degree at Aberystwyth University, the question is whether he will miss the Army career which has been his life?
“I was watching on the news, looking at the C130s going into Libya,” Mr Jarvis said.
“A bit of me was thinking that’s exactly what I joined to be doing, those are the kind of things I would have been involved with.”
But the reality is that life moves on, he said.
“It’s a most amazing opportunity that’s come my way. I think it’s a fantastic privilege to be a Member of Parliament,” he continued.
“That’s what I want to do and that’s what I’ll do to the best of my ability.”
But personal tragedy meant Mr Jarvis’s life in the Army would had to have changed even if he had stayed in the military.
His wife Caroline died last year after a four-year battle against cancer. This has left him as a single father bringing up his eight-year-old son and six-year-old daughter.
But he said: “This is not the easy option .
“I could have taken many more considerably easier options.
“I could have soldiered on in the Army. I could have done desk jobs close to home. I could have continued to do that for another 15 or 20 years.
“The reality is that I could have got a job that would have paid me quite a lot of money based on the sort of experience that I’ve got.
“But none of that appealed.
“I’ve got this long-standing, burning desire to continue a life of public service. That’s what I’ve done for 15 years.”
He says he took a bold decision to stand for the nomination in Barnsley. And, to the disappointment of headline writers everywhere, the former Para says he was not parachuted-in by the Labour top brass.
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said.
Locals said he was the surprise selection after a barnstorming hustings performance.
Now, despite being the first Labour candidate in the seat from outside Yorkshire in more than 70 years, he has moved to Barnsley and is now planning to bring his children too.
Mr Jarvis said he thinks his military experience will be valuable in his new life but he knows he also has to put it behind him.
“There will always be a bit of me that sees friends rolling out of the doors and doing these things and is thinking ‘that’s what I joined to do’,” he said, “but life moves on.”