Thank you to everyone who joined our grass roots campaign for Labour in Hazel Grove. We didn't win, but we achieved the highest Labour vote in Hazel Grove since 1979, increasing our vote by 50% over the last General Election.
(slight tweak from immediate post-election blog on local party site).
This is the first election campaign I have ever fought.
I stood for selection at the end of last year because I wanted to build the Labour Party in this constituency, to galvanise our supporters, to push the agenda that the working people around here deserve representation from a party that stands firmly for them.
I made three promises at the start of this campaign.
To play the ball, never the man or woman. We've done that. I will never shy from holding anyone to account, as I'd expect anyone to scrutinise what I say and do, but we have been positive about what we offer and avoided personal attacks.
Secondly, I promised to be true to my personal values. I am proud of who I am, what I believe in and what Labour stands for. I'm not afraid to say where I differ either.
Finally, I promised to enjoy it - it has been a privilege to work with such a decent and lovely group of volunteers - so how could I not do. It's been a real pleasure. And I'd like to start by mentioning two people in particular. Emily McDermott, aged 14, the youngest member of our local party. Her father Martin, our dear much mourned friend, would be so proud of her. And Percy Hutchinson, 95 years young, the most senior member of our party. And then every single one of our members, supporters and voters in between.
It's about you.
They have all worked hard because we all believe more than ever that we can build our party here. We have more members than ever, more volunteers, which translated into a higher share of vote and more Labour voters.
We've done that with a team of local volunteers making enormous sacrifices.
We have campaigned in this election for a country that works for everyone. We will continue to do so in all our communities from Hazel Grove right over to High Lane and Woodley, to keep building on the momentum we have created that may not have been enough this time, but frankly we all know there are Labour supporters who's loyalties have been borrowed by a relentless campaign of voter suppression by the Liberal Democrats and a big challenge from UKIP.
This has been a hard fought campaign. In the 2010 election there was ONE hustings event. This time I have taken part in SEVEN. All really well attended.
As I said, this is a new experience for me. I have learnt a great deal about the mechanics of campaigning. I have visited other campaigns and attended hustings in neighbouring constituencies. I say this as a tribute to my opponents: the quality and standard of the debate has been far, far higher here than anywhere else I've visited, even better than the national shouting matches too.
But we aren't going anywhere. Rachel and I have raised our family here, this is our community and she starts a new job teaching at a school in Romiley in September. The very reason I started this blog is because of what I feel about living here. And as Labour activists, we're going to carry on building here.
I have personal respect for the successful candidate. I obviously disagree with his plan for what the country needs and deeply worry about what a Conservative government will now do.
But we will hold him to account, we will continue to stand up for our NHS, our schools and colleges and to work ever harder for those I really worry about, the poor and vulnerable of this constituency and do all we can to support the aspirations of all our young.