For the last two weeks, I’ve spent my Monday mornings campaigning in Selby and Ainsty; the location of one of the three by-elections triggered following the resignation of three Conservative MPs.
By-elections are really important. They not only ensure that voters continue to have representation in Parliament when their MP leaves mid-term, but they also provide an idea of current public opinion and, as a result, a very rough indication of what the next General Election might look like.
With my Labour hat on, Selby and Ainsty was a tremendous result. Local candidate Keir Mather overturned a Conservative majority of over 20,000 to win the seat for Labour for the first time since it was established back in 2010.
It goes without saying that I was delighted, not least for Keir who I know will do a fantastic job but also for what this result could mean for the next General Election. However, that delight was tempered by the knowledge that nothing in politics can ever be taken for granted.
I have served as a Member of Parliament since 2005. I know that democratic representation is not something that can be ticked off a list and completed. It is an ongoing job, where you can’t take your eye off the ball when it comes to repaying the trust of the people you are elected to serve.
The people I represent in Tameside expect me to work around the clock and stand up for the local area, so that’s what I always try and do. However, if, at the next General Election, they decide I’m not hitting the mark – they can boot me out. It sounds harsh, but is the beauty of democracy. Being a public representative is a privilege, and one that carries enormous responsibility with it.
The same is true of national politics. The job of the Opposition in Parliament is to hold the Government to account, earn the trust of the electorate and through that, ultimately be given the honour of forming a Government.
I know that people in Tameside are crying out for change. That after 13 years of Conservative Government they have been left with crumbling public services, soaring bills and stagnant wages. This must change, which is why I am so determined to deliver a Labour Government, and to build a Britain that is fairer, happier and more prosperous.