EVERY MP has a story of how they first became interested in politics.

But surely it’s only Islwyn’s Chris Evans who can cite being hit by a car as a teenager as kick-starting his political career.

Born in the Rhondda in the mid-1970s, the Labour MP said it was while recovering in hospital after being run over at 13 years old that he became aware of the importance of politics.

“When I was recovering in hospital I read a book about John F Kennedy called One Brief Shining Moment,” he said. “And I got fascinated by that whole period of history, the civil rights movements, the upheaval of the 1960s and all the changes in society and I started realising politics was all around me.

“At the end of our street was a scrap piece of land where a pit used to stand. There were no jobs there any more, no one on the street had a job, my friend’s fathers didn’t have job, mothers didn’t have jobs and the world was changing. It seemed very bleak at the time.

“I started to ask the question why it was like that, why some people had life chances that other people didn’t have.

“That created my belief about the idea of equality of opportunity – everyone should have the same opportunities, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you came from, if you’ve got the talent and you are willing to work hard you should be rewarded.”

Although he said his family had no political background, he said the nature of his upbringing had a major impact on his world view.

“My mother and father split up when I was 11 so I was brought up in a one-parent family with my sister,” he said.

“There’s no real political background in my family but my mother worked very hard to bring us up, she scrimped and saved and did a brilliant job.

“The one thing she instilled in both of us, both me and my sister, was work ethic – that you won’t get anywhere unless you work hard. I’ve stuck by that my entire life.

“I saw how hard she worked, sometimes doing two or three jobs just to make ends meet.”

Joining Labour aged 14 while Islwyn MP Neil Kinnock was party leader, Mr Evans had no idea decades later he would occupy the same Parliamentary seat.

“I was always active and knocking doors, but the idea of working in politics was something that happened to people on the other side of the television screen,” he said.

“I didn’t know anyone who worked in politics, I didn’t know how to get into politics or where to start, I didn’t have any contacts, I knew nothing.”

Mr Evans said the death of his father in October 2003 had set his career on the path which would lead him to Westminster.

“It sounds hippyish I suppose, but we are only here for a short period of time and we have to think of the world we are passing on to our own children,” he said.

“When my father died it got me thinking about what I am going to pass on, what contribution have I made, and the contribution I wanted to make was to make a better world for people.”

Although he ran for Parliament in Cheltenham in 2005, five years later he stood for Islwyn and won.

He said he believed education and helping young people realise their ambitions was key to improving quality of life in more impoverished areas of the country such as Islwyn.

“We have something called poverty of ambition here,” he said.

“I go around the schools and how many times do I hear ‘it’s not for me’, how many times do I hear ‘I can’t go to London, it’s a big city, it’s beyond me’, and you think to yourself how do you change that mindset?

“We need an education system which produces future employers and employees, and we need a school system which encourages entrepreneurship.

“How many people said to you in school that an option was to set your own business up? Even now how many people know how to set their own business up?”

Other issues Mr Evans said he was particularly passionate about include equipping both young people and adults with financial skills and improving care for the elderly.

During his seven years in Parliament he said he had become particularly frustrated by the attitude of cross party politicians to joint working.

“Sooner or later we’ve got to find common ground with each other,” he said.

“Bill Clinton said ‘I’m not against anything that’s not my idea just because it’s not my idea’, and that’s what we have to get back to.

“Look at all the breakthroughs we’ve had when we’ve worked together, in Northern Ireland in particular.

“That was about the DUP and the Ulster Unionists finding common ground with Sinn Fein and that’s brought about peace.”

Although Mr Evans, who worked in banking before he became an MP, campaigned in support of a Remain vote ahead of last year’s referendum, he said he felt there was little point in retreading the arguments now the process was in motion.

“We have to see this as an opportunity, because if we don’t it’s going to go wrong,” he said.

“We have to look to the future. The future is outside the European Union and that’s the way forward. You might not like it but that’s the way forward.

“There is no point in saying you’re a remainer or you’re a leaver, the British people have decided and we have to be optimistic about it.”

On devolution Mr Evans said he believed the Welsh Government would function far better if it focused less on getting more power.

“We have to get away from this constitutional nightmare,” he said.

“I call it that because the Welsh Government’s default position is ‘we need more powers’.

“We seem to think there’s jam tomorrow if we have more power.

“What the Labour Assembly has to do is it has to say ‘we are drawing a line under this now, we are the ambassadors for the Labour Party.

“In education and health Wales has so much power and we can make a real difference and real change. We have to stop dead in its tracks this constitutional argument and start showing the UK government that we can do things better if we are more caring and more innovative.

“That’s the advantage the Assembly has, it can do these things because it’s smaller and it can do things faster without being caught up in bureaucracy.”

Mr Evans has been on the benches during one of the most tumultuous periods for Labour in recent history, with leader Jeremy Corbyn proving unpopular with many inside the party itself.

“It is difficult within the Labour Party at the moment,” he said.

“If you push any criticism of the leadership you will be attacked by Labour Party members.

“What is clear is the leadership question has been settled. Jeremy Corbyn now has a shadow cabinet which is more of his making.

“But that is not to say the Labour Party has been effective in putting its vision forward.”

He added: “I am not asking (Mr Corbyn) to step down, but the question he has to ask himself is does he think he is the best person to be prime minister?

“Only he can answer that question.

“And what Labour Party has to do is be is more clear with its vision, it has to be more consistent with its message and I think, frankly, it needs to stop talking to itself and start talking to the people again.

“It has spent the past two years talking to itself and once you do that people stop listening to you.”

Mr Evans said he felt it was best to approach challenges with optimism.

“The frustrating thing in The Valleys is I hear so many people say the Valleys are terrible,” he said.

“How are we going to attract businesses if we’re saying things like that?

If you’re telling people it’s awful, we’re on the poverty line and there’s soup kitchens here how are you going to say to people like the General Dynamics of the world ‘Come to Islwyn, it’s a great place to work’?

“We’ve got a proud past. Yes, we’ve had problems, but it’s not going to change unless we start saying this is what we want it to look like, this is what the future looks like and the future is good.”