Posts Tagged ‘Andrew Leask’

Join the Labour heist on the Tory crown jewels: Trafford

08/04/2011, 12:00:22 PM

by Andrew Leask

The past few weeks have been a difficult time for communities across the country. But none more so than Greater Manchester. It has been said before, that the PM’s politics may well have been developed on the playing fields of Eton. In recent years Cameron has flirted with Manchester: there was the getting to know you PM direct session, spending the night during party conferences and even gifts: Greater Manchester will soon become the country’s first combined authority. But he is now performing the parliamentary equivalent of pulling Manchester’s hair, spreading rumours about it on the bus and calling it names in the playground. It seems that what they say about Cameron’s politics is true.

So how has the Tory-Lib Dem government got away with its repeated accusations that Manchester (in particular) is subjecting its citizens to politically motivated cuts. Cuts entirely of their own making and not due to anything the national government may have done or wanted. Well, obviously there is outright propaganda and spin. But beyond that, the Tories have sought to use their “jewel” in the north, their only council in the entire Greater Manchester region: Trafford.

Time and again, Conservatives have used Trafford as a comparison piece when trying to claim that national cuts do not have to mean job losses or reduced services. But regardless of the differences of need, resource and actual funding allocations of Manchester and Trafford, it is fundamentally untrue that services are not suffering and that people will not lose their jobs. For example, in the ward I’m fighting in, Broadheath, our local park wardens have already lost their jobs. Not only does this add to the skyrocketing unemployment statistics, but it has a real effect on our local community. Without park wardens, our green spaces are slowly falling into a state of disrepair and being used for all sorts of anti social behaviour. The Trafford cuts are real, and they are affecting all of us in the local community.

So the Labour group in Trafford is fighting hard in every ward. But to win Trafford, we need to win Broadheath. We’re up against the sitting mayor, so not only will a victory help push the council back towards a Labour majority, but will be a great PR victory too. But to win here, we’ve decided to do things a little differently.

Building on the stunning work done by people like Caroline Badley, we have built our campaign on the principles of community organising. We are seeking to equip and empower our volunteers and truly understand our local community. Whilst we’ve not quite reached Obama like levels of efficiency, we are taking huge strides. And we have been kept focused by one guiding principle: to reconnect with our volunteers, and through them, the community at large.

We have spent a long time going to churches, community groups and people’s homes and simply asking what can we do to help keep this area great. We’ve asked people to let us work with them to solve the problems they face. Already, we are starting to have an effect. Quite apart from the broken streetlights and awful potholes that we have got fixed, there’s the residents who have told us again and again, that no one has ever bothered to ask their opinion. By the simple fact we’ve done even that, they feel valued, respected and ready to engage again with the political process.

I love the community that I’m standing in. I believe the people of Trafford deserve better than a Tory council cheerleading national cuts. Looking at the voting history, we know that an extra 800 votes or so will be needed to win in my ward. We have a modern, dynamic strategy that is learning from the best political movements across the world. We are engaging volunteers by giving them responsibility, building around their skills and interests and engaging with a broad base of supporters and residents to make a positive difference in their lives.

But we don’t yet have enough people to ensure a Labour victory in May. So we’re asking activists from across the country, and particularly the north, to come and join us. To help us rob the Tory northern crown jewels.

We will be campaigning every day between now and 5 May. But in particular we want to encourage activists to come and get involved at the weekends, when we can spend the most time talking to residents and ensuring that they turn out to vote. We’ll also be phone banking Monday to Friday. So if you’re interested in helping, please email me or visit our website for more information.

Andrew Leask is the Labour candidate for Broadheath

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