Michael has represented the West Midlands Constituency as a Labour Member of the European Parliament since 1999. He is currently the Chair of the Delegation for Relations with South Africa and Chair of Conference of Delegation Chairs as well as a substitute member for the Delegation to the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly.
As a member of the Development Committee, and spokesperson for the Labour Party in the European Parliament on Development, Michael is currently actively involved in working with his colleagues on a number of important issues including the Millennium Development Goals, Climate Change, and transparency in extractive industries as well as, overseas development aid. In the Petitions Committee, where he is currently a member and was the first vice-chair (2006-2009), Michael Cashman has been working on the so-called Spanish Land Grab crisis, as well as other important issues.
As a subsitute member of the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee, Michael has been a rapporteur on several key legislative reports including Access to Document for EU citizens (EU Regulation 1049/2001) to work towards making European Institutions more transparent and accountable to citizens it represents, the drafting of the Schengen Borders Code, the creation of the Fundamental Rights Agency and the facilitation of repatriation of mortal remains.
He has been an active campaigner across a wide range of issues and is a trenchant critic of any form of discrimination, a defender of human rights and has worked tirelessly to end discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. He is also the Co-President of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights. Michael formed the Stonewall Group in the UK, which puts forward the case for equality for LGBT people on the mainstream political agenda in 1989 and was its founding chair.
As a relentless campaigner for human rights, he delivered in January 2011, in Turkey, the Hrant Dink Memorial Lecture on Freedom of Expression and Human Rights, succeeding author and social activist Naomi Klein.
And as a Member of the Socialist & Democrats Group in the European Parliament, he is the Group Representative for the observation of trials of journalists in Turkey.
Michael has been a Member of the Labour Party since 1975, and served on the Labour Party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) between 1998 and 2012. He was chair of NEC in 2012 and received a Special Service Award from Ed Miliband when he stood down from the committee in October 2012.
Michael received a special service award from the American Association and an Honorary Doctorate from Staffordshire University for his work in the field of human rights. He was awarded the title of ‘MEP of the Year’ in 2007 (for his work in campaigning for human rights) and again in 2012 (in recognition of his work with the RNIB on accessing books). He also received the European Diversity ‘Lifetime Achievement’ Award in 2012.
Michael was awarded a CBE in the 2012 New Year Honour’s list for his work in fighting for equality.
Michael also had a distinguished career as an actor and singer. He has also worked as a director at New Victoria Theatre, Newcastle under Lyme, and was made Associate Artist at Birmingham Rep. During his career he worked with luminaries like Lionel Bart, J. B Priestley, Sir Alan Ayckbourn (who directed two plays which were written by Michael), Sir Ian McKellen, Elizabeth Taylor, June Brown, Sir Elton John and David Hockney. He is possibly best known for his role as Colin Russell in the BBC´s soap opera EastEnders, a character remembered for being a participant in the first gay kiss in a British Soap Opera.