Dear Labour Councillor.
You will soon be receiving your ballot papers – not only for the Leader and Deputy Leader, but also the SW Representative on the NEC of the Association of Labour Councillors.
The ALC was created in 2011 under the Refounding Labour initiative to be an effective voice for local councillors within the Party.
I am pleased to announce that I am standing for election as the SW rep on the NEC to help shape the future of Labour in Local Government and Central Government.
We councillors are the foot soldiers, the grassroots that week in , week out speak to the electorate on the the doorstep, in the streets and in the communities.
We are bound to do that through candidate and councillor contracts – and by have those conversations, meaningful conversations, not just voter ID contacts, we are aware what our local communities are thinking.
Yet when we pass those thoughts on the the national Party, those views seem to be ignored.
Whether on fracking or the bedroom tax, those at the top appear to know better.
And nothing illustrates that for me than the contempt for the local and regional views than the choice of Swindon as location for the SW Region Leadership hustings, less than an hour from the Westminster bubble.
For me, it would have been a 2 hour train journey, and for many of you a much longer journey.
Yet all but the hustings in Newcastle and Glasgow were less than 2.5 hour train journey from London.
I believe that Bristol is the start, not the heart, of the South West and I want to give a voice to the whole region but most particularly the SW Peninsula.
The region is large, with many local voices and visions. I want to unify our voice.
Here in Exeter, we have transformed from the minor opposition party in a minority administration in May 2010 to where we are now, 5 years later, Labour are the majority administration party.
In that time, we have have succeeded in ensuring that we now have achieved gender equality on the Group – one of the first, if not the first, majority group to do so. In fact Exeter Labour have more women than the whole opposition put together (and they have only 3 women between them!)
Although I sit as a backbencher in a Labour-led authority, I am aware through my contacts with Labour colleagues on Devon County Council of the difficulties of operating as an effective opposition.
Whether in administration or in opposition, whether a large group or a single councillor, as elected members we can show people what Labour values really are, and how we can put those principles into practice.
I want us to be able to share good practice so that we work more in collaboration rather than isolation.
I want us to tell our stories, to give a strong narrative to what Labour can mean to electors
I want us to have a strong voice to effectively lobby the national Party and input into national policy. They need to know what we councillors think and feel.
Let me be YOUR strong voice.
I hope you vote in this election – indeed I hope you use your vote for me as your #1 candidate on the NEC. However if you have a preferred number 1, please consider me as your second preference.
Let me be YOUR strong voice.