Wednesday, July 29, 2015

For the party, for the country, Deputy Flint

Caroline meets the Taylors
I was deeply honoured to be asked to chair a rally for Caroline Flint on Saturday in the council chamber in Manchester Town Hall. She is the stand-out candidate for the deputy leadership. An impressive roster of Labour politicians - Hazel Blears, Peter Dowd, Richard Leese, Claire Reynolds, Jonny Reynolds, Nick Bent - all gave short speeches about why they are supporting her and what we need to do when she wins.

Here is mine.

We have much to take from this election, if nothing else some valuable lessons about why people DON’T consider voting Labour. Afterall, in Hazel Grove we talked to many more Tories than most Labour campaigners and so feel we understand some core issues about what cost us.

Jonny Reynolds MP, also with family
But you realise what Labour needs to do for people when you knock on someone’s door, or they respond to you in the street and they  say THANK YOU for being Labour in our area – an area they felt had been colonised by the Liberals and we’d given up.

We can’t give up – we must never give up.

Because there was something Caroline Flint said which struck with me – Labour must have a 650 seat strategy.

We must operate in a different way – be there for people.

Becoming a social movement isn’t just about knocking on doors, but getting people to knock on your door too.

In every council ward in the country there are probably 100 people who make a community tick, sometimes they are known as community organisers – sometimes they would never dream that such a moniker could be attached to them.

They organise sports teams, kids activities, church events, carnivals and festivals. But also food banks, home helps and credit unions. They may not even be overtly political, but they care.

Hazel Blears
We have to be these people. And be amongst these people in our communities. Not for cynical electoral advantage, but to provide leadership when it is needed. 

We have use the skills and talents of each and everyone. Learn lessons from the very best practices of community organising and growing organisations.

The Women’s Institute, the Churches who provide comfort and social assistance in our communities. How organisations embrace technology to coalesce and organise.

Let me end by telling you a story about Joe.

A first time voter and a party member. He’s built a business doing something called the Teenage Markets.  

I contacted him and got him involved in our election campaign. His Dad stuck a massive Correx board up – in fact I think Jonny gave it to him when he popped into the office in Market Street in Hyde.

I could have handed him a bag of leaflets and gone round Mill Lane Estate with him as I did with many of the volunteers who joined our junior army in the campaign.

Caroline Flint MP thanks her supporters
But Joe also loves making films and has that talent and so he did one with me (the link to YouTube is here) – I’ve no idea how many votes that gained us and I know not every party member can do that. But if you start from the perspective that as Labour we wish to develop the potential of every human being, then it is incumbent on us to nurture the talents within our party and amongst our activists too.

I love the vision Caroline has for creating a party that finds more Joe's – that’s why I’m proud to be with you all today.

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