It’s been over a month since the local and European elections in the UK and an opportune time to reflect on the results and how this bodes for Labour’s success in the general election in less than a year’s time.
I was privileged to be one of the MEP candidates for the London region for Labour and spent the past year campaigning with the London Labour across the region. The memories of meeting with party members and talking to voters across the capital is one’s I will never forget. Whilst campaigning with Labour party members, I was frequently asked my predictions for which party would win the Euro elections in the UK overall. It became clearer to me, especially during the short campaign where I worked full time on the campaign during the last month that Labour would have good results in London but that UKIP would beat us nationally and so I stated as such. The media coverage that was given to Nigel Farage and the euro-scepticism that was in the air all boosted his campaign. Turnout was disappointingly low at 36%. Labour did exceptionally well in London and we had good results in the West Midlands, North West and North East. However it was a disappointment that we did not pick up more than one seat in the largest region in the South East, East of England, East Midlands or Wales. Gaining these seats would have ensured Labour’s win in both the Euro and local elections last month and given a strong boost for the campaign next year.
The European parliament has an opportunity going forward to strengthen its legitimacy and develop more openness and transparency in how its primary institutions the European Council and Commission operate. Labour MEP’s will need to work hard to counter the Eurosceptic groups in the parliament and reach out to its constituents about the work they do and how it makes a difference to ordinary people’s lives. This will certainly be easier in London where Labour now has half the MEP’s.
Labour’s results were the best since 1971 and in order to win next year, the target seats in London should get the necessary support from the London Labour party and its local activists, as it’s here that we are most likely to gain the seats needed to have Ed Miliband as our prime minister next year. Labour had 37% of the vote in London, gained 203 new councillors, controls 20 out of the 32 London boroughs and is now in control of the Local Government Association for the first time in a decade. In Barking and Dagenham, where I re-stood as a councillor, even I was a little surprised that we took all 51 seats of the council again, as we did in 2010. We have been a strong campaigning force and realised after winning in 2010, that there was no room for complacency. We kept our Labour doorstep sessions every two weeks, which allowed us to keep that connection with our voters, hear their concerns and deal with them over the past four years, which gave the Barking Labour party a credible record of listening and acting on the priorities that mattered to our residents.
Labour needs to talk about the issues that will resonate with people including, jibs, growth and wage freezes. They also need to tackle the difficult issues such as immigration, but in the grounding that diversity is a source of our strength to us as a nation and with solutions to tackle the Labour makes effects of increased pressures on housing and school places. Labour can win just after one term out of power, if we keep working hard on the doorstep and show that we take a real interest into finding sustainable solutions that will make a real difference to people’s lives.
Well the European and local elections are now over and I have had a little time to rest. I was disappointed not to win a seat in the European elections, but delighted that I was part of a fantastic London Labour party campaign machine, where I was able to contribute to a triumphant result in London. The Labour party gained two extra MEP’s, with a swing of over 15% to become the first party in London. Congratulations to Claude Moraes, Mary Honeyball, Lucy Anderson and Seb Dance who will now represent us in the European Parliament. I will always treasure our memories on the campaign trail over the past year. Thank you to all my supporters, well wishers, family and friends. Without your support I could not have got through the hectic schedule that being a European candidate brings.
Labour also increased its share of the vote in all the other UK regions in the European elections and are now also the largest party in the local government association (LGA), which is fantastic news.
I stood for re-election in Barking and Dagenham and was delighted when the residents of Alibon ward voted for me to serve them for another four years. UKIP stood candidates in each ward in the borough but we saw them off just as we saw off the BNP in 2010 with a further 5% swing to Labour. I look forward to working hard in my ward and with my fellow councillors across the borough, during these tough times to make it a better place to live and work for everyone.
This week has been another busy one. I have written two blog posts. The first is about why gender should be on the political agenda, based on my personal experience of being the youngest woman on Barking and Dagenham council. The article can be read on the Fabian review online here. My second article of the week was about why the closure of walk-in centres, particularly the Broad Street centre in Dagenham may lead to health inequalities. The article can be read on the 2020 health website here. I attended the Hornchurch and Upminster Labour party monthly meeting to update them about the priorities of the European campaign, which evolved into an interesting debate on whether the UK should stay in or out of the European Union.
I will spend the weekend campaigning in Croydon with London MEP’s and MEP candidates and Forest Gate with London Young Labour. I was glad to be able to play in part in helping Harrow Labour with their recent bye-election and was delighted to hear that Glen Hearnden was elected as a Labour councillor on the 7th November.
I was a guest on the OHTV (Sky 199) Real talk show on Thursday, where we debated plastic surgery, the American ‘stand your ground’ law and prostate cancer. There was a great response online and many emails coming in today still continuing on the debate! For any of you that might have missed the show, it will be repeated at the following dates and times on sky channel 199:
Friday 15th November at 15.30
Saturday 16th November at 16.00
Monday 18th November at 22.00
Tuesday 19th November at 15.30
This is a picture with me and the other two guests, Luther and Erica alongside the show’s host Trish Adudu.