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

  • News Eddie Izzard commits to running for “Parliament or Mayor” by 2020

    Eddie Izzard commits to running for “Parliament or Mayor” by 2020

    Comic and actor Eddie Izzard has reaffirmed his longstanding commitment to entering electoral politics by 2020, by going for a Labour parliamentary selection or London Mayor. Izzard is a lifelong Labour supporter (and Londoner) and has spoken in the past of his desire to become London Mayor. However, the recent announcement that Boris Johnson does not intend to stand for a third term has raised the chances of Labour winning the mayoralty in 2016, and thus there being a Labour incumbent in […]

    Read more →
  • News Jowell takes on new London-based role before potential mayoral bid

    Jowell takes on new London-based role before potential mayoral bid

    Tessa Jowell has taken on a new role lecturing at the London School of Economics (LSE), which should give her the time to concentrate on a likely campaign to be Labour’s candidate for London Mayor. Jowell, who is standing down as an MP next year, has started her post as Professor of Practice with the LSE Cities and in the Department of Government part-time. Jowell is currently considered one of the front-runners in the race for Labour’s candidacy, but all […]

    Read more →
  • Comment What Scotland requires from Labour right now is energy and clarity

    What Scotland requires from Labour right now is energy and clarity

    There are just over two weeks left until a decision that will alter Scotland – and Britain – irrevocably and immensely. Many voters have already completed their postal votes, and the campaign is as intense as any Scotland has known. The impact of a yes vote in the independence referendum would reverberate through the entire nation like an earthquake. Our nation as we currently understand it would cease to exist, a constitutional crisis the likes of which hasn’t been seen […]

    Read more →
  • Featured Labour suspends party members over Rotherham abuse investigation

    Labour suspends party members over Rotherham abuse investigation

    It’s reported this morning that Labour Party have suspended four members in relation to the findings found by the investigation into child abuse in Rotherham, which were released last week. The party have said that the four individuals in question – Jahangir Akhtar, Councillor Shaukat Ali, Councillor Gwendoline Ann Russell and Councillor Roger Stone - have been suspended pending investigation.   Alongside these four suspensions, the party have said that two former members – Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright and former councillor Maurice Kirk – […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Featured Chris Kelly standing down is as significant as Douglas Carswell defecting

    Chris Kelly standing down is as significant as Douglas Carswell defecting

    Defections from one political party to another don’t happen very often, and they make great political theatre, so they are rightly big news.But in the week when Douglas Carswell switched from Tory to UKIP and made the blow doubly hard by doing the honourable thing and calling a by-election to get a public mandate for his decision, the media are wrong to have overlooked another, potentially even more significant announcement by a Tory MP, the obscure Chris Kelly. Carswell’s decision […]

    Read more →