The elections coming up on May 6th are the biggest our country has seen outside a general election in a long time. But they will also be held in some of the strangest circumstances. Necessary Covid restrictions mean that rallies and packed committee rooms are out, replaced by face coverings and social distancing, and often far more phone calls than house calls.
Heading up to Hartlepool a few weeks ago as the by-election was called, it was very much get on the ground and make it work with what we could do, rather than being held back by the restrictions that were critical for keeping us safe and defeating the virus. Having spent countless hours out knocking doors, leafleting and chatting to people in this great town, I can say that while it may be different, it’s no less enjoyable and as the weeks have rolled on it now feels very much like a ‘real election’.
The truth is that after spending much of the last year cooped up at home, people are in the mood to talk. Sometimes it’s about the by-election or the direction they want to see the country go in after the pandemic. Sometimes it’s about Labour or the government. A lot of the time, it’s just a chance to make up for the lost time of the pandemic. And people from the North aren’t backward in coming forward, which has made for refreshingly frank discussions about the country, politics and what is needed to win back trust.
The constant reinventing the Tories try is wearing thin. There is only so many times Boris Johnson can declare he is ‘taking personal charge’, and ‘now is the time for action’. As we look on 11 wasted years, people here – like every part of the country – know too well our foundations were weakened by a government on borrowed time; as we celebrate St. George’s Day they would have reached 4,000 days of borrowed time to be exact.
The Labour campaign, focused on jobs, the NHS and safer streets, has hit home. The way we have exposed Tory sleaze and failures on crime in the media is having a real effect. But it means nothing without the campaigning and activism that is our party’s greatest asset: our opponents may have more money than us, but we are powered by people. No ad vans driving around in circles, or hit and run visits by ‘the bloke with the messy hair’, can match proper conversations about what really matters to people; the place where they live and the security they feel; at home and at work.
That’s why, this Sunday, Labour is holding a national campaign day. We are encouraging everyone to get out and help to ensure Labour wins across the country. We’ll come armed with a simple message: that a vote for Labour on May 6th is a vote to stand up for working people up and down the country. Members will be out on the doorstep in England, Scotland and Wales speaking to voters and delivering leaflets. Volunteers from across the country will be staffing phonebanks. The shadow cabinet will be able to get out in force for the first time since Covid restrictions started.
Wherever you are in the country, there’s a campaign for you. Whether you want to join me and Dr Paul Williams in Hartlepool, support the Labour government in Wales or give a boost to our metro mayors or our council candidates, you’ll be a crucial part of the team. Our aim is to show that Labour’s priorities are Britain’s priorities: to secure the economy, protect the NHS and rebuild the country.
With just three weekends left before people go to the polls, and with postal votes dropping through people’s letter boxes every day, the campaign day can make all the difference in winning support for Labour candidates across the country. So, whether you’re an experienced campaigner or you’ve never knocked a door before, you’ll be welcomed with – socially distanced – open arms. Get involved this weekend and help Labour to win again.