Does the centre ground include people who live in market towns and rural areas?

May 25, 2012 5:10 pm

The recent local election results show the start of Labour’s return to political representation for the many, while they also suggest further work lies ahead. The nature of the seats, of the previous election cycle and the post budget ‘omni-shambles’ will all have helped.

In 2013 we face a different task, when the counties of England go to the polls in mostly all out elections.

We should hope that the Police Commissioner elections in November will help with our organisation and presence across swathes of rural England; and while the voters of urban England may well be more accessible to us, our ability to maintain electoral momentum in 2013 requires a meaningful engagement in every part of England.

To achieve such meaningful engagement two particular conditions need to be met.

Ed Miliband is right to suggest we need to overcome the lack of trust in politics and politicians. One part of the answer to that is to return to the roots of political representation and build our representation from the communities we seek to serve. That requires presence in the community, and a presence that is about being part of the community, not a passing engagement driven by election timetables.

We should learn from the vast array of local activism that takes place in almost every place day in, day out; and we should be a part of it because we are an active part of our community (rather than a local ‘party’ activist). We should probably learn from historic Lib Dem successes where they identify and support active local people with Lib Dem sympathies, support them in local campaigns on the way to being a local representative. It cannot be the case, as I’ve seen on two or three occasions that people who run chip shops are only sympathetic to Lib Dem policies!

The Future Candidates Programme suggest the party gets this, do we as members accept that in many cases active community members might be better placed as candidates than an stalwart party member might be . . .

Being part of the community can show people that we are in politics and representation for the right reasons; and that being Labour does make a difference to their lives day in, day out, irrespective of elections.

And then, of course, we need to show we have some policies that properly recognise the nature of non-urban life, of life in the countryside, in market towns, hamlets and villages.

Many market towns are thriving places with variety and character, but not all. Can we help those that aren’t, turn the corner? With declining public transport getting about requires your own car, if you have one and can afford the fuel, while broadband is a fleeting presence if you’re lucky. Public service is different in places where there is only one secondary school, or the nearest hospital is many miles away (and the second further still).

Does the centre ground include people who live in market towns and rural areas? Personal experience, my work as an advisor at both CLG and Defra, and the 2012 results from district councils suggest they probably do. Our challenge is to show that Labour people are a part of their lives and that Labour has the policies to reflect that.

Hywel Lloyd was a Policy Advisor to Ministers in CLG and in Defra 2007/2010

  • http://twitter.com/CllrJonSHarvey Cllr Jon Harvey

    Great article Hwyel. I live in Buckingham where I am one of the 8 out of the 17 town councillors who are declared Labour Town Councillors. We use this base to tackle issues such as town centre regeneration, supporting local jobs and tackling fuel poverty (to name just a few) and  to get a valuable foothold in the district council last year – where we now have two Labour Councillors – one from Buckingham and one from an Aylesbury. Hell would probably have to freeze over before Aylesbury Vale District Council become Labour controlled but our two District Councillors – and our Town Council – hold them to account and speak up for local people. I would urge all party members to get involved in parish and town councils (as I did at the party conference last year: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jpt6aLjar5M) – and build connections with local communities.

  • Pingback: One Nation Labour | labourcoastandcountryblog

  • Pingback: One Nation Labour - Labour Coast and Countryside campaign -

Latest

  • Comment Getting off the bottom rung and into power in rural seats

    Getting off the bottom rung and into power in rural seats

    So, the fantastic work of Labour activists, promoted by Jack Eddy from Labour: Coast & Country and spearheaded by Huw-Irranca Davies MP, has been recognised. The Rural Manifesto has been given the green-light by Ed Miliband – now comes the time to develop innovative and appealing policy for coast & country areas in order to fill it. Excellent news, yes, but what does it mean? LabourList readers not local to the area, won’t know much about South Suffolk. It spans […]

    Read more →
  • News Inflation may be falling but “the squeeze on working people continues”, says McKinnell

    Inflation may be falling but “the squeeze on working people continues”, says McKinnell

    Today, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) have released figures which show that during August of this year, the annual rate of inflation fell. These latest stats show that the price of food and non-alcoholic drinks dropped by 1.1% – the largest fall in a decade. Although this might sound like positive news, Catherine McKinnell Shadow Treasure Minister has highlighted that when rises in the rate of pay are so low, this doesn’t mean that life is getting any easier […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Why a workers’ pledge is essential to enhance workplace rights

    Why a workers’ pledge is essential to enhance workplace rights

    This post is written by Hugh Lanning and Steve Cavalier As Chuka Umunna said at last week’s TUC: “We have fought to defend people’s rights and voice in opposition but these rights are only meaningful if you can get proper redress. The current employment tribunal system is unfair, unsustainable and has resulted in prohibitive costs locking people out of the justice they are entitled to.” Chuka went on to commit that “the next Labour Government will abolish the current system, […]

    Read more →
  • News Scotland Salmond says Scottish NHS in danger if there’s a No vote – but leaked paper shows £450m blackhole

    Salmond says Scottish NHS in danger if there’s a No vote – but leaked paper shows £450m blackhole

    Alex Salmond’s claims that the NHS is at risk if Scots vote No in Thursday’s referendum has hit new trouble again today. A leaked report claims that NHS Scotland will have to make significant cuts as it faces a funding gap of between £400 and £450 million in 2015/16 alone. The paper, which has been given to both the BBC and the Yes-supporting Herald newspaper, says “The status quo and preservation of existing models of care are no longer an […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Scotland When it comes to Scotland, where we are now reminds me of the miners’ strike

    When it comes to Scotland, where we are now reminds me of the miners’ strike

    Although a supporter of the No campaign in Scotland, I hadn’t intended to do anything other than work on the ground in Glenrothes, where myself and other comrades from Blaydon and the Durham miners played our small part in beating the SNP in a by election in 2008 and helping to elect my good friend Lindsay Roy as a Labour MP. However, events this weekend have changed that. I attended a memorial service in Auchengeigh, just North of Glasgow, on […]

    Read more →