An eclectic group of guests turned out to celebrate the launch of House Music, the Oona King Diaries, which was launched in Parliament as an ebook by Bloomsbury. The publishing party included a performance of parts of the diary, dramatised by award-winning playwright Tanika Gupta, and starring comedian Dave Schneider, newcomer Shelley Williams, and actor – and Oona’s cousin – Ed Stoppard who stars in Upstairs Downstairs.

The diaries bring to life Oona’s personal experience:

  • How does it feel to lose your job in front of ten million people?
  • To sleep on the floor while waiting to vote in the middle of the night?
  • To represent the Secretary of State for Health at a family planning clinic on the day you fail your fifth IVF cycle?
  • To do battle with George Galloway?
  • To be a Jewish woman representing a largely Muslim constituency?
  • To receive death threats from white supremacists?
  • To be the only MP who likes House Music?

Oona’s diaries – described by playwright David Hare as “funny, revelatory, and above all authentic” describe her time as an MP. At 29 Oona became one of the youngest MPs in the 1997 Labour landslide, and only the second black woman elected to Parliament. Despite predictions of a bright political future, Oona found Parliament frustrating. Although she changed the law in five areas, her failure to be entirely loyal to the Labour Party leadership put her on a collision course with her whips, and for the first time the dramatisation shows what happened behind the scenes.

When Iraq became the biggest issue in British politics, Oona lost her seat to George Galloway in the most symbolic defeat of the Blair government on election night 2005. The diaries contrast geo-politics with the sharp end of poverty in the East End, and Oona’s efforts to deal with one of the highest caseloads of any MP in the UK.

Oona said “I wanted to be an MP from the age of 5, but after only 3 years in the job I considered resigning. Everyone hates politicians, but few people realise just what it takes to survive frontline politics.

Living inside the Westminster Village, you start to question how we run the country. There’s got to be a better way. And yet Parliament remains one of the most direct and effective ways to change Britain for the better. That’s why a lot of us stay here.”

Oona was appointed to the House of Lords as Baroness King of Bow in January 2011. 


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Notes to editors:

  • The event takes place in the House of Lords, Cholmondeley Room, 6.30-8.30pm. For last-minute press tickets, please see media contacts.
  • Guests who have confirmed their attendance at the launch include Deputy Labour Party Leader Harriet Harman MP, comedian Joe Pasquale, former cabinet ministers Stephen Twigg MP, Ben Bradshaw MP, Sadiq Khan MP, gold-medallist ice-skater Robin Cousins, TV presenter Anthea Turner, and Oona’s aunt and uncle - Dr Miriam Stoppard & playwright Tom Stoppard, who will be watching their son Ed perform.