Witney and Batley might seem very different places, at either end of England with different political colours. Both face byelections on 20 October, however, and in the words of a great daughter of Labour, there is more in common that unites us than that which divides us.
Our campaign in Witney comes in the wake of the resignation of David Cameron. His legacy nationally is well known. In 2015 he had a sizeable majority, but as Labour candidate I came second, with almost more votes than the United Kingdom Independence party, Liberal Democrats and others put together, with a swing unprecedented against a sitting Tory prime minister. In 2016 we can win the argument and the election – if the Tories are going to lose, it is me who is going to win. What is more we can activate our 1,000+ local members, many new to politics, on real issues, and create a united force against this increasingly chaotic and dangerous rightwing government.
Our four campaign issues resonate across the country and can make a difference across the UK.
First, we fight for the NHS. A local GP surgery, run by Virgin Care, faces closure. Like many services it is a victim of the stupid health bill passed by Tory and Liberal Democrat ideologues in 2012. We can turn the tide in NHS funding and save this surgery, but we need your help.
Second, we suffer from a lack of affordable homes, uncontrolled development led by greedy landowners and rapacious developers, and the wrong sort of houses in the wrong places. With your help we can take back planning control and build the homes our area needs, in Oxfordshire and Britain.
Third, our economy suffers from very poor infrastructure including potholed roads, poor public transport links and slashed bus services. Help us get community transport and renewed infrastructure to build local jobs here and countrywide.
Fourth, the free school bonanza and the grammar school fiasco risk the future of sixth forms and comprehensive neighbourhood schools, and must be defeated for the sake of all our children. Locally and nationally we can scupper these divisive and dogmatic errors.
Please do what you can to help our campaign. Come and join us on street stalls and doorsteps. Phone canvassing will help a lot. Mentor our many new members so they look up from social media and see the real world problems. Together we can defeat these crazy ideas, and united we will win. We might also discover that there is more that unites us, than that which divides us.
Progressive centre-ground Labour politics does not come for free.
Our work depends on you.