This blog started out its life in 2010 as a place to capture my thoughts and observations about how we would return a Labour MP in the Loughborough constituency again. Having fought the seat for over 20 years I thought I had a little insight into what made the constituency tick. I knew quickly in 2010/11 that I wouldn’t be going back to Westminster so I could help whoever came next for the Labour candidacy. I didn’t think I’d still be working it out 12 years later!
So it was a pleasure to be present at the selection of Jeevun Sandher this week, as he is given the job of winning the seat for Labour MP. I didn’t think in 2010 as Cameron failed to win the election outright that we would be here in 2022-23 still talking about having to come from behind to win. The elections in 2015- 2017 and 2019 as well as the Brexit referendum in 2016 have all made predicting elections and politics so much harder than in the 90s and early noughties. I used to be able to predict the Loughborough seat within a 1-2 k margin of error. No more I am afraid. Politics isn’t normal at the moment.
It has been a pleasure to get to know and offer help and advice to our potential candidates over the last few months and I was struck by the quality of their campaigns to win the selection and support of the hundreds of local Labour members. It seems a lot more professional than my early years experiences.
We were blessed in 2019 of having an excellent candidate in Stuart Brady. Most of us assumed he would be back to fight the seat again in 2024, as he had done such a good job, despite the national backdrop. I don’t need to go over the disaster of the period 2015-2019 in the Labour Party’s history, but suffice it to say that having the worst result for Labour since the 1930s was not an ideal place for Stuart to beat the Tory candidate. He led a great campaign and was by far the most able candidate on show. But as I have learned over the years national politics trumps local candidates, and good potential MPs sometimes never make it! And conversely some awful ones do.
It was a very strange feeling to sit in the crowd listening to the selection hustings this week. As you may know I have been under a little pressure to think about standing again, and did have a slight wobble in October when I did give it some serious consideration for about 48 hours! But a walking holiday in Scotland soon ended those ridiculous thoughts! It has been hard for slightly selfish and family reasons to explain to Labour members that I couldn’t make myself available. I know when Jeevun wins I will have a slight regret, but it is 100% the right thing for me to do, by getting behind our new candidate! I was actually quite nervous on the evening of the selection even though I wasn’t standing. I couldn’t imagine what the candidates were going through.
By the end of the process at the selection meeting we had three very different candidates to choose from. Even after the speeches and answers to the questions posed by Party members there were still people around me unsure how to pick between their top two. Many of us have been in that position when ‘hiring’ and you really want the best bits of the last two candidates in front of you!
I will write more about Jeevun in the new year and will ask him to write a guest blog for us setting out his story and how he plans to win. I have been impressed by him. When I compare the 32 year Andy Reed to Jeevun I see a far brighter individual! I don’t want to jinx him but I do think he will a great advocate for the Loughborough constituency and will do well inside Parliament. His speech and answers to quite complex questions on Tuesday were serious and well thought through.
A selection is always hard on those who have worked equally as hard to win but go home as runners up. I’d like to give a special mention to Elly Cutklevin who I equally thought would develop into a serious campaigner and MP. Her time will come too. And lastly Sarah Goode our local CLP secretary who has a heart bigger than most people I know. She is the sort of person who will make an excellent local councillor. We need more people like Sarah serving our communities. The sort of person who will do anything for anybody.
As we head into the Christmas period the blog will take a mini break. It doesn’t mean politics has stopped though. There is so much material at the moment, from strikes, to cost of living crisis, to Labour’s lead in the polls and the war in Ukraine.
I’d like to thank all of those who get this far into one of my blogs. I know there are a few hundred who read regularly. I do hope to get a little deeper into subjects in the new year and generate a little more debate on some key topics as we head towards General Election territory and the policies needed in a manifesto.
In the meantime have a wonderful Xmas and Happy new year.