By Adam Freeman
In 2017 I had the honour of representing the seat I was born in through the greatest force for good in this country, the Labour Party. It is a challenge seat and has been won by the Conservatives since its creation in the 1970s. It resulted in a very short campaign with only one leaflet distributed to residents, partially through the national picture looking good for us I happened to increase our vote by over 3,000 and give us the best result for a Labour Candidate for sixteen year’s. I am standing again in the same seat this time.
Since the highs of the 2017 General Election campaign, locally we have faced a twin threat with the re-emergence of a Green Party focused on a few villages and then growing organically from there as well as Independent group that rightly sees this as there best chance of upsetting the incumbent and generally hated Conservatives. In May this resulted in a whole raft of Parish seats moving to Independents and many even taking control of local councils themselves.
This election is not only a chance for us to remind residents who is the closest challengers to the incumbent Tory MP, but a chance for us to build the contacts we have spoken to over the last few years, using our mass membership, our new Council Candidate’s and our Union affiliates to campaign in every village for a Labour Government and build a mass movement for change.
If you speak to most candidates, even those who have previously been MPs in the seat, they will give you a personal story either why the particular area and its residents is important to them or at the very least the reasons they first thought about running for Public Office and why the Labour Party.
For me, living standards is the cornerstone of my campaign but also the reason why i get up every day and ask myself: “What will I do for Labour today?” Too many people in this seat have to fight to find their monthly rent or their annual electricity and gas payments, seeing little change if any in the quality of service, the majority of the time seeing an increase in payments blamed on inflation or “market pressures”. At the same time these companies are discussing what bonuses to give their bosses and the money they will pay to lobby politicians for even greater sector autonomy.
It is only through a Labour Party committed to changing the way this country is run, who is really in charge of our day to day activities, that we can implement really transformative policies.
I am sure there are many people who see standing in a challenge seat as an important stepping stone to higher aspirations within the Party and a chance to prove themselves on a larger stage. For me the opportunity and excitement is more profound. Challenge seats get no national funding, barely a mention by any Regional Office and certainly no paid staff to help you, the candidate is the most important person, even ore at times than the Agent who works more behind the scenes .
This means you can design your own leaflets, present your own online strategy and your own approach for dealing with the media – it is clear the right candidate needs to have a grasp of each of these important topics to be successful in a modern campaign.
I hope I can at least say I brought the Labour Party home with a solid second place. For the a seat like ours this would be seen a as a victory, any reduction of the winner’s majority or decrease of other rivals parties would be a greater achievement. At 27, it is possible I will never stand for Parliament again, but it also possible I will, in a different seat than where i was born, with different challenges, expectations and goals.
What ever the future holds for me one of my important jobs is being a guardian, a temporary leader of the Labour force in South Staffordshire. One that I hope I have left in a better place than when I arrived, so that someone else next time can experience the task and honour of flying the flag for our party in this constituency.
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