May 3rd presents the biggest electoral challenge for Labour since we came to power in 1997. Despite the hard work and proud record of our Labour representatives, the media are predicting we will continue to haemorrhage seats in Scotland, Wales, and in town halls across Britain.
Local Labour candidates are not responsible for the unpopular policies the government is pursuing. They are doing their best to provide high quality services to their residents within a difficult framework.
Failing to return Labour candidates in Scotland, Wales, and in town halls across Britain will not affect government policy. Liberal Democrats and Greens have been calling on voters to "send a message" to Tony Blair in every election since 1997, and no amount of lost seats has or will change his mind on anything. The way to change Labour party policy is to join our campaign and work within the Labour movement for change.
I have written to local papers across the country, encouraging readers to ignore the distraction of national issues and instead to judge Labour representatives on their local record.
I will be also be travelling up to Scotland and Wales to help Labour candidates in their campaigns. I will be helping Elaine Smith in Scotland (20-21 April), and Sue Lent in Wales (30 April). They are both strong candidates with a fantastic record of standing up for working class people. They are both consistent and vocal opponents of the war in Iraq.
I am delighted to be able to report that a group of young people from the Socialist Youth Network have already organised a group of supporters travelling to Wales on the 30th. If you can, please take a day off work to help in Wales or Scotland . Contact Tim or Jacqui in the campaign office for more details of how you can help.
My key policies for local government include:
- Direct investment in new and existing council housing - implement the consistent decisions of Labour Party Conference on the 4 th Option.
- Stop the disreputable Academies programme. Enable local authorities to promote new non-selective community schools.
- An end to privatisation of local services. Abolish the lucrative secondary market in public/private deals and allow proper public sector funding for capital projects, including new schools, public transport and renewable energy schemes.
- Restore financial autonomy - replace council tax and non-domestic rates with a locally-set annual Land Value Tax.
- Give councils a genuine choice of constitutional arrangements.
Thank you for all your hard work so far, and please continue recruiting new members to the party, lobbying your MPs and distributing our leaflets.