With elections and a referendum throughout the UK today, Left Foot Forward brings you dispatches from the frontline of politics, with party activists reporting from the campaign trail; Shelly Asquith, a Labour activist from Wandsworth and a member of the London Young Labour executive, continues the series with her campaign diary
With no local elections in London, Labour Party activists from the city have had to spread themselves further afield. London Young Labour have been diverting our efforts to Kent, Essex, Sussex and Bedfordshire by delivering thousands of leaflets and speaking to hundreds of voters on the doorstep and on the phone. With regular and well-attended weekend trips and mid-week phone bank sessions, we’ve been busy helping to secure a Labour vote in key South Eastern councils.
But it’s not just local Labour parties we’ve been working with: Young Labour activists have been campaigning alongside Hope Not Hate teams in Thurrock and Luton, ensuring no votes in this election are granted to the BNP. While it’s vital for Labour to take back councils in the South, dissuading disenfranchised voters from far right candidates intent on dividing our communities is integral.
Since March 26th activists, trade unionists and ordinary voters have been joining together in a way we’ve not witnessed for decades. Since May last year, Labour has seen a surge of new members, many of whom have already been playing a part in helping us win these crucial local elections. Such enthusiasm has regained hope in local Labour teams, where spirits fell following the general election.
We have also seen an incredibly positive response from the electorate in these last weeks. Voters are recognising that electing local Labour representatives is the first step they can make in taking the fight to the government, and with fine, hardworking candidates up and down the region I’m confident we can deliver.
Today I’ll be getting the vote out in Colchester, a borough where Labour is sure to make gains from Lib Dem-held wards where residents feel let down by the imposition and incompetency of sitting councillors. In wards like Wivenhoe Cross, where many electors attend the University of Essex, the student vote will no doubt be diverted from the Lib Dems, who have turned their back on young people.
On a wider scale, I see us taking back control of councils all over England; storming the Welsh elections; increasing our base in Scotland and winning in by-elections in Leicester South and in The Lane ward in Southwark, London.
I have remained unfazed by the referendum: I’ll be voting ‘Yes’ with much reserved enthusiasm. I expect a ‘No’ vote will prevail; but for me, the priority is securing a Labour victory in essential areas of the UK, to build a strong team that can fight to win the next general election, whatever the voting system may be.