I am writing to thank everyone for their support over the last few months to re-elect me for the Butt Lane ward. I wanted to carry on in my work as a Councillor and I have enjoyed fighting to gain a second term. Every single vote made all the difference. The Kidsgrove Labour Team and Stoke North CLP helped me knock on over 2000 doors and we spoke to hundreds of residents. I was overwhelmed by the support I received and it was very humbling to receive over 55% of the vote.
Usually I like to thank the other parties for campaigning on local issues. Unfortunately local UKIP ran a very dirty campaign full of personal attacks and lies. I don’t like gutter snipe politics and neither does the general public. Instead, people would like to hear what the candidates are going to do for the local area. Some leaflets given out by local UKIP claimed immigrants are given advice not to defecate in the streets and claims Sheffield City Council gave out this advice is libellous. This is the politics of fear attempting to frighten people into voting for a party on one issue, immigration. All mainstream parties need to listen to what the general public are saying about immigration, but lets not be rash. Lets have a proper debate on this issue with all facts and figures presented to us. Let us remind ourselves that a local Councillor cannot stop immigration and never will.
I won this campaign on a banner of hope for our community, not an agenda of fear. In Butt Lane and Clough Hall we are facing increasing pressure from luxury housing developers, failing to provide us with affordable housing for our young people. We must ensure social housing and smaller properties are a large percentage of those newly built estates by using planning policy. Whilst I recognise the need for housing, we should always look to protect our green spaces for our future generations. I recognise that the land off Slacken Lane and Coalpit Hill continues to be seen as the green lungs of Butt Lane. If we stand together as a community we can make sure positive changes are made to protect things that are important to us, but also deliver things that we need. So in a few weeks time I enter the chamber to represent you and I will do my best as always.
Up until this point I have remained quiet on who I will be supporting to be the next Labour Parliamentary Prospective Candidate for Stoke-on-Trent North. As many people will be aware I am an active member of the Labour Party and I believe in what the party stands for. As a member of the CLP Executive Committee I decided not to put myself forward to be on the Selection Committee because I want to back a candidate from the start. Stoke North’s selection process needs to be professional and transparent. Therefore I can announce I am endorsing Ruth Smeeth to be our PPC.
I have been aware of Ruth for quite some time. She has been known to attend many events and Labour campaign days in Stoke, way before Joan announced her retirement. A lot of us believed Joan would do at least another term. Ruth’s background as a Hope Not Hate co-ordinator and her fight against fascism really does inspire me and others. Her experience in this area can definitely be put into practice to protect the City and Borough from the BNP and extreme elements of UKIP.
Ruth Smeeth has been the perfect campaigner and most definitely inspires people to get out there and speak to people on the doorstep. That is what we are about after all, putting people first and listening. I joined the campaign trail in the Baddely, Milton and Norton by-election to see Ruth working really hard with our candidate. She lit up my day on the doorstep, a real people person and able to relate to working class folk on the doorstep. Ruth has attended numerous campaign days in Kidsgrove and isn’t afraid of hard work.
It was only recently that I was on a training course in Manchester and I met members of the Labour Party from Burton. Ruth was mentioned in the conversations and those people speaking about her didn’t have a bad word to say. They told me how lucky the people of Stoke North would be if Ruth put herself forward.
The day Joan Walley announced her retirement I felt totally devastated. Joan has been one of the most dedicated MP’s I have ever met and she always puts her constituents first. She never gives up the fight against social injustice. Joan is a true friend of mine and I have learnt so much from this respectable lady. After doing a lot of thinking, I had no choice but to endorse Ruth who I believe will follow in Joan’s footsteps and do a really good job. Ruth is young, vibrant and will bring a fresh approach to politics that this country so desperately needs. She is not a candidate being shipped in from London, something I hope we never see happen again.
So good luck to all of the candidates putting themselves forward, but I have my fingers, legs and toes crossed for Ruth.
You can find out more about Ruth and her endorsers at: http://www.ruthsmeeth.org.uk