National Policy Forum

As Vice Chair and Campaign Coordinator for Northeast Hertfordshire CLP, I was delighted with our results across North Herts District Council. We took a ward in Letchworth and took control of Letchworth Area Committee. We took another ward in Hitchin (where I was the parliamentary candidate in 2015) and took control of Hitchin Area Committee. We saw dramatic swings to Labour in a number of wards.

But I was born in Nuneaton and my family is from Copeland. So I know we have our work cut out to win power in parliament.

And it was while campaigning against the BNP in Copeland in 2009 that I was confronted with the failure of the Blair/Brown governments to completely reverse the economic policies of the Thatcher/Major governments – and the unmitigated anger it created in ex-industrial communities.

I re-joined the Labour party later that year in order to make that case within the party.

So, I have served on the National Executive Committee of Labour Business for the last five years and in that role, I have made the case for a One Nation Industrial Strategy that would radically redistribute opportunities, wealth and people across the country. I am delighted that, under the leadership of John McDonnell, we have made real progress on this issue in recent years.

But a lot of work remains to be done.

Voters on Keir Hardie Avenue are angry with austerity and its devastating impact on public services. They are angry with low wages and the insecurity of their working lives. They hate that their kids can’t get a council house. They can’t stand the idea that their hospital services might be moved miles away from them.

But they also feel disconnected from a political elite who agree policy positions in panelled rooms in Westminster, in modern conference centres in central London or even dusty Student Union chambers with not the remotest understanding of the reality of their daily lives. And they are fed up with politicians who promise them the earth but never deliver. All they see is the continual erosion of their standard of living and the quality of services that support them.

And I suspect millions of voters across the country agree with them.

We need to take our policy-making process out of SW1A and our political conferences out of WC1B and closer to the people whose support we need to win. Good policymaking starts on the doorstep listening to the complexities of people’s lives and we need practical solutions that will deliver real and lasting transformation for their families and communities.

But, above all, voters on Keir Hardie Avenue are looking to us to defeat the Tories and reverse their policies in parliament. We cannot let them down.