These pieces are never easy to write. Late yesterday we found out the result of the London Assembly campaign: out of 1,134 votes cast, we lost by 24. I want to pay tribute to Labour’s new candidate for Croydon and Sutton, Councillor Patsy Cummings, and to thank everyone who was involved in this campaign.
Some of you may have seen glimpses of this very special campaign on social media. Over the last year, we crowdsourced thousands of donations to local foodbanks each school holiday which meant fewer families and kids going hungry. We used the campaign to fight climate change and push for better air quality, petitioning Sadiq Khan to commit to making our city carbon neutral by 2030 and crowdsourcing hundreds of locations for new trees in our neighbourhoods that can now be planted. We marched alongside mothers against knife crime and worked with local community groups and businesses to create safe havens for young people.
It represented the very best of Labour campaigns: positive, practical, inclusive. The culture was beautiful and we made a difference.
We always knew we were the underdogs, so we built a campaign that would be independently valuable regardless of the result. That, at least, we won.
If you’re reading this as a volunteer, I trust you’ve seen this first hand. My heart struggles to take in the scale of the contribution you have made and the level of talent and passion our party has in you. I remember looking up during one of the last phonebanks – listening to dozens of you chatter on the phone whilst my husband was kindly cooking for us – I had to take in a breath at the scale of it all. I remember standing on icy street corners doing air quality surveys with you, seeing you drive through storms to pick up food parcels, talking to local business owners about knife crime out of hours, teenagers producing my campaign video over their weekends, ladling out rice at soup kitchens with you… and that’s before we get to the hundreds of Labour members who gave up their time on the phones to talk to us about what mattered to them.
We may have lost, but those relationships we’ve built carry on. There are new leaders emerging from this campaign who will serve Labour at the elections this May and beyond. I am proud to back you as you have me.
So, although it always stings to lose, this campaign has been a blessing. At its best, Labour enables each of us to join our individual lives to a bigger picture, to connect our lives with a wider social story. It enabled me to talk about my students’ lives outside of the classroom, to talk about how our education system is impacted by young people’s worries about security, housing, opportunities and inequality. It gave me a platform and a community to campaign with on those issues for which I am truly grateful. You don’t need an elected position to do that, so I’ll continue to do so.
Our young people deserve Labour representation. No matter how involved you were in this selection, I encourage each of you to go out and campaign for Labour, Sadiq and for Patsy in the upcoming elections in May. We have precious little time, and the London Assembly becomes even more important in the face of five more years of Tory government. It is a place we can and must make a difference to people in Croydon and Sutton and our capital. I look forward to continuing to work with you to make that happen.