As the Third Place First campaign sets up a branch in the northwest of England tomorrow night in Macclesfield – all party members welcome – Peter Wheeler explains why there should be no ‘no-go’ areas for Labour and how party members are making that happen.
Over the last 12 months, as the reality of Tory rule becomes clear, there has been a real growth in support for Labour. It has been an uneven process and sometimes a case of two steps forward and one step back (great results in Scotland at the general election, disappointing results at the Scottish parliamentary elections). But the reality is that Labour’s recovery under Ed Miliband is well under way – whether it’s in terms of the opinion polls, local election results or growth in membership.
Progress like this doesn’t fall from the sky – it comes from hard, intelligent work by Labour people on the ground in their communities. We need to be contacting Labour supporters and potential supporters in every part of the country, developing policies relevant to today’s Britain based on recognisable Labour values, and above all we need to remember that Labour is not just a device for attracting swing votes in 50 or 60 marginal constituencies. It needs to be a movement of real political change.
Whether it’s in Surbiton or Salford, Ipswich or Inverness – Labour values of empathy, fairness, hard work and compassion are central to the policies needed to tackle the problems our communities face. People in every part of the country need to know that Labour is there to fight their corner.
That’s why ‘Third Place First’ was formed – a group of party members committed to supporting and building the Labour party in areas where we have suffered electorally and taking the fight to our opposition.
Obviously this is a key issue in southern England – unless we can pick up votes and support there we will never form a Government again – but the same message applies in every part of the country. Northern Scotland, north Yorkshire, mid-Wales – all difficult areas for Labour and easy to let slip off the radar. We have to be clear that there are no ‘no-go’ areas for Labour! That’s why we are establishing a northwest branch of ‘Third Place First’. The northwest has seats with some of the biggest Labour majorities in the country but we still have areas that the Tories regard as theirs by right – we aim to change that and give working people in those areas a voice.
Our launch meeting is tomorrow, Friday 22 July 7.30pm in the Heritage Centre, Roe Street, Macclesfield, SK11 6UT. Our main speaker will be Cllr Keith Dibble national chair of Third Place First. All labour members in east Cheshire and the Altrincham, Hazel Grove and Cheadle areas have been invited. Any other members and supporters are welcome to come along. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 07880 790182. It could be the start of something big!
Peter Wheeler is a former member of Labour’s NEC
Progressive centre-ground Labour politics does not come for free.
Our work depends on you.