When the hashtag #WhereIsWeatherley started trending about my opponent, I knew there was all to play for in the upcoming election. He clearly did too, which is probably why he resigned earlier this year.
Being an activist in an ultra-marginal with a weak opponent means that every ounce of work you contribute delivers an impact that is tangible. Remember 2005 when we beat Nick Bowles by 420 votes? Every one of us who poured our heart and soul into that battle woke up the next day knowing that without any one of us the result could have been different.
So in the first year of being a candidate I have worked really hard to get as many people involved as possible, and it is working. Best of all, it is fun! In fact the only thing that has surprised me since becoming a candidate is how much fun being part of a winning, energised, and hard-working team is.
But that only counts if it touches the lives of residents in a meaningful way. So right across the constituency I have found groups of residents whose views have been drowned out by the Tories nationally and Greens locally so we have worked super-hard to give them voice. Community campaigning and meeting residents is the beating heart of my campaign.
Working alongside residents to achieve change is important as it shows people what sort of member of parliament I will be. In a world where faith in politicians is low we cannot rely on saying ‘I’m different’, they need to see it. So we have delivered a road crossing by working with parents, put a forgotten community issue onto the map, and even placed a piano in Brighton station to lift the mood of beleaguered commuters. Small acts of change which adds up to someone who gets things done.
Upon selection I also promised to get Labour back onto the high street, which is where we are today. Our community campaign office makes us accessible and transparent, and the six-foot window posters give us a great opportunity to communicate with the thousands of passers-by.
Surrounding my community campaign is a team that runs itself ragged to communicate our policies and achievements and to hold our opponent’s feet to the fire. In fact, we will have delivered 100,000 pieces of literature in three months by the end of December alone. Oh yes, we will have earned our Christmas pudding this year!
Hove and Portslade has stagnated in the last four years. Economically it is under performing by 10 per cent compared to similar areas in the south east. There are major issues to tackle within the private rental sector and the Green council has prioritised cycle lanes over education, meaning there is a major problem with school places. Communities on the outer fringes of the city feel ignored. To top it off, the Tories have selected a parliamentary candidate who told Radio 4 recently that he would cut the winter fuel allowance. We cannot allow them to win again here.
On January 10, Operation Flight will land in Hove and Portslade. Activists from around the country will join locals in a day of activity to kick-start the new year. Put it in your diary, come and see for yourself what it takes to win back a seat for Labour. On May 8 you too will be able to tell friends, ‘I won Hove and Portslade back for Labour’, because in this battle every single activist will be the person who tipped the balance in our favour.
Peter Kyle is parliamentary candidate for Hove and Portslade. He tweets @peterkyle
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