Tom Harris has been the MP for Glasgow South (formerly Cathcart) since 2001 and has been an active member of the Labour Party since attending college in 1984.
After he left college in 1986, he joined the staff of theEast Kilbride News as a trainee reporter and moved to Cathcart constituency in Glasgow. Here he passed his NCTJ exams and also became more involved in the local Labour Party, becoming branch secretary and delegate to Scottish Labour conference.
In 1988 Tom became a reporter on the Paisley Daily Express, one of only two local daily newspapers in Scotland.
Speaking about his NCTJ training Tom said: “When you’re training to be a journalist, it’s important to know that the quality of that training is not only of a high standard, but is recognised as such by the industry. That’s why NCTJ training is so vital to aspiring journalists: it offers a credibility that is unmatched.”
In the course of the next two years, Tom became further immersed in Labour politics. He was Cathcart's delegate to national conference in 1989 where he spoke out against those who were refusing to pay the poll tax. In the same year he led an investigation into the activities of the Militant tendency in Cathcart Labour Party, which culminated in the expulsion of eight people from the party.
In 1990 Tom was recruited by the Labour Party in Scotland as its first ever full-time press and publicity officer, where he oversaw the party's media strategy in three parliamentary by-elections (Paisley North and South in November 1990 and Kincardine & Deeside a year later), the 1992 general election and the district council elections the same year.
Following this he became a press officer with Strathclyde Regional Council, a post he held until local government reorganisation in April 1996, when he became the senior media officer for Glasgow City Council. Six months later he became public relations manager for East Ayrshire Council in Kilmarnock and in July 1998 was appointed as chief public relations and marketing officer with Strathclyde Passenger Transport Executive, or SPT.
On 7 June 2001, he became Labour MP for Cathcart (now Glasgow South) with an increased majority compared to Labour's 1997 result.
Talking of the effect NCTJ training had on his career Tom says: “Even in my parliamentary role, I still find some of the basic skills I learned extremely useful – particularly shorthand, but also the legal framework within which the media operate.”
“I would recommend the NCTJ standard to anyone who wants to make a success of their journalism career.”
Tom Harris opened the 2009 NCTJ Journalism Skills Conference where he spoke about his NCTJ training and the future of multimedia journalism.