Bradford-born Gloria de Piero on her new role at GB News: 'We'll reflect British lives and it feels like a revolution'

Gloria de Piero had never heard of the Mineworkers' Pension Scheme before she traded in her life as a London journalist for door-knocking on the streets of the ex-mining communities in north Nottinghamshire where she later became a Labour MP.

But the Bradford-born Political Editor for GMTV, as she was then, was soon enlightened on the subject which has been a long-running source of anger for areas like Ashfield and many parts of Yorkshire since the mid-1990s.

In 1994, when the Mineworkers' Pension Scheme was privatised, it was agreed the government would get half of any surplus from the fund despite making no contributions, in return for guaranteeing the value of the pensions would not decrease.

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GB News presenter and former Labour MP Gloria de Piero

Rectifying the situation, as a Parliamentary committee recently called for, would see a £14 increase to the average weekly pension of £84 for thousands of mineworkers across the North.

Ms de Piero says this thorny topic was one of a number she became much more familiar with after quitting journalism to seek selection as the Labour candidate for Ashfield in the 2010 General Election.

"I'd never heard of it but you knock on doors and because every bloke over 50, I exaggerate but only slightly, used to work down the pits, it's massive on every doorstep.

"And even though I spent all those years as a national journalist, I'd never heard of it, why isn't anyone talking about these things? Also the way the National Lottery is funded. When I got to Ashfield, I thought 'why is it getting so little money?'.

Labour politician Gloria De Piero listens to a speech in the main hall in Manchester on September 21, 2014 on the first day of the Labour Party conference. AFP PHOTO/LEON NEAL

"It was a really eye opening experience to me becoming the MP and living outside of London and really immersing myself in it, because I had a marginal seat for most of the time I had to knock on doors, pretty much every week."

After standing down as an MP in 2019, Ms de Piero's career has gone full circle. Joining Times Radio in 2020, she hosted her own show and co-presented a show with journalist Tom Newton Dunn on Sunday mornings.

But she says her latest venture, a daily programme on the country's newest television news channel, GB News, is going to keep her in touch with the views of the British public in the same way as her days knocking on doors.

The channel, chaired by veteran political interviewer Andrew Neil, will launch on June 13 and plans to air 6,500 hours a year of “original news, opinion and debate”, eschewing rolling news for appointment-to-view programming.

It was previously announced that former Daily Politics presenter Neil will lead the channel's evening line-up with a prime-time news and interview programme.

Other high-profile signings to the channel include ex-BBC presenter Simon McCoy, former executive editor for The Sun Dan Wootton, and ex-Sky broadcaster Colin Brazier.

On the days she speaks to The Yorkshire Post she is in preparation mode for her new daytime show and has been leafing through newspapers for stories, deciding to ignore the nationals and instead concentrate on local papers from around the country.

"I probably got through about 15," she says. "And I was so energised by it, by the variety, by the stories, whether it's crime or Covid and all the restrictions going on where you are in Kirklees and all the other areas.

"But it's just a different perspective if you don't look at a national newspaper, and that's really what GB News is seeking to do.

"So much national news does not speak to so much of the country. I mean it's just extraordinary, so we've got local journalists who live in the areas around the country. And the stories that we cover will be the backbone of the channel in many ways.

"And so the way that we're going to do this is not by some people sitting in London saying 'I think this is important, I think that's important', it'll be from our journalists from around the country saying 'this is what people are talking about,' whether that be in Scotland, in Bradford, or in Nottinghamshire where I used to represent."

In one local story she has come across, a woman was murdered by a former partner who had just been released on licence from prison, a telling example of pressures and failings in the justice system.

"But all of these stories are happening across our country," she says. "They speak to what's going on nationally, they humanise it, and we don't have to tell the story just through a graph or a chart or an expert.

"We can talk about Britain through the things that are happening around the country, through our journalists and through the cases that are happening outside of London and our big cities.

"I think we're going to do something really different and we're going to reflect Britain as it is through those journalists. When I became an MP, because I was a journalist before I became an MP, and we all had our little conversations, whether it was at the BBC, or even at GMTV.

"And then, I was in north Notts and started knocking on doors, and I thought 'these conversations are not bearing any relationship to the conversations I've been having', which I thought were really relevant to the most important things.

"People are saying different things. And it wasn't the easiest time to be a Labour MP. The Labour Party was moving further away from power with every day that I served.

"I tell you what, getting outside of London, and really learning from the community that I represented, it just taught me so much about real Britain.

"I made this joke that I wanted to change the world and I've tried to do that from being the Labour MP, and that didn't really work very well, really, because I spent all my days in opposition.

"But I think maybe if I can be part of this change to broadcasting so it reflects lives across Britain, it's so flipping obvious, it feels like a revolution, that we're going to try and reflect Britain, all the voices across Britain, and if the story matters to people wherever they live, then it matters to us and that's very much the ethos of what we're doing."

Born in Bradford, the daughter of Italian immigrants who moved to the UK to work in the textile mills, she describes getting married at the city's Midland Hotel in 2012 and how she makes her London friends come up to sample 'an amazing Bradford curry' for her birthday.

And she was amazed to discover fellow GB News presenter Colin Brazier is also from Bradford, adding: "I have never been in a newsroom where I can compare Bradford stories with one of the presenters, it is wonderful."

The arrival of GB News prompted a backlash in some quarters after reports in The Guardian, Evening Standard and City AM that it will adopt a Fox News style approach. But bosses say it will be “free, fair, impartial” and “Ofcom regulated”. Ofcom has a requirement that news channels show due impartiality when covering political issues.

"Obviously we are governed by Ofcom and there are very strict broadcasting rules in this country about balance debate, and rightly so," says Ms de Piero. "But GB news is exactly what it says on the tin.

"It is the people's news channel, reflecting the people's stories and people's issues and people's concerns, right across Great Britain. And the successes as well, as well as the issues and concerns, and the great stories that come from across our country."