One month to #GE2015, a message to supporters from their hopeless candidate

April 5, 2015

…A month to go to the 2015 General Election. As I have always been I want to be completely honest with you.

Before looking ahead I would like to look back. In December 2014 I put my name forward to be a candidate in our local Party’s candidate selection process. I did not expect to win. I thought my lack of activity and profile would be key. It would also be obvious that while I have been a member of the Labour Party for decades I have not before shown an inclination to be a candidate.

But on 24 January I was indeed selected and in that moment my life changed, quite literally.

If I had lost I would still have fulfilled my promise to my granddad when I was a boy to honour his struggle and not to forget my roots, but I would have gone back to work on the Monday and my busy life would have continued as before.

So what has changed? Labour still won’t win in Cheltenham on 7 May if we define winning as returning me as the MP. That statement and some of my answers to journalists and in hustings have resulted in comments that I am idealistic, naïve and defeatist.

However I am not some wet-behind-the-ears, inexperienced idiot.

I have lived quite a bit. My young days were not easy; I know what it is like to be in a family that has no money. I know what it is like to walk home from school throwing away letters for school trips that ask for money because I don’t want to give mum and dad even more to worry about. I can remember food being shared to make it go round and I can remember the look on mum’s face when I had outgrown old shoes.

With all the love and support you can imagine, I climbed away from that life. I am a lawyer and now a successful businessman, but that was a struggle too. Running a training business when the country and the world are in the grip of recession is miserable. I know what it is like to fear losing everything, sleepless nights and working all hours, often staying away from home because I could not afford to come home and fulfil a contract the next week.

So I can be accused of a lot of things, but not being naïve or idealistic and never defeatest. My life has been well lived, but I count my blessings every day. I know I have had life chances denied to others more deserving than me. Justice and fairness are to be fought for and never assumed.

No political party has all the answers. Labour does not have all the answers, but what binds us is a sense that our values are secure. The greatest good for the greatest number, protecting our most vulnerable and sharing wealth when we can; to do this we know we cannot live in a socialist utopia, but we can always emphasise our values. The NHS is for all us, not for shareholders. Our social services are a safety net not a penal regime. Our country should set the standard for welcoming people who want to share our islands with us. We must celebrate working because work fulfils lives.

Since 24 January I have answered hundreds of emails and I have met dozens of people I might never have met before. I have attended meetings, spoken to schools and heard about the work and the struggles of some great local charities.

I have learnt that the work of the Labour Party is never done. We are only a few short steps away from breaking people and their families, that society is fragile and that so many good people are tired of their struggle.

What I know now, viscerally, is that small differences matter, that hope must be kindled not put-out and that leadership should hurt when people hurt.

This campaign has changed my life and I will always be grateful for this experience and for the support, kindness and friendship of people who started as strangers.

So, one month to go, let’s reach out and touch more lives, let’s make a difference and let’s make our own personal commitment to hold our values dear.

We won’t have a Labour MP on 7 May, but we can give hope to thousands of people in Cheltenham that we hear them and we are for them. We can build from there and we can change lives.

That is winning by any measure. Take care


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