By-elections – you say Eastleigh and I say Pensby and Thingwall

February 26th, 2013

If you ask any Labour supporter to name a by-election, the first place they will name is Eastleigh. You have an exciting and media friendly candidate in John O’Farrell who is well positioned to ensure that Labour gets its share of the limelight. Now I am a big fan of Progress’ third place first campaign as it realises that for Labour to become viable as a realistic choice in many constituencies you have to cultivate previous no-go areas. The number of Labour activists and high profile MPs pouring into Eastleigh has shown what the O’Farrell can do to motivate our supporters.

Despite this, I turned up to campaign for a different Labour by-election this weekend in what has been viewed as part of Labour’s heartlands – the North West. So where was I? I was in the delightfully named ward of Pensby and Thingwall which is in the constituency of Wirral West currently held by the Conservative Esther McVey.

Well why give up the glamour of O’Farrell and the big names door knocking in Eastleigh? Firstly, for a bit of Fabian solidarity. The bright young Labour council candidate is chair of the Merseyside Fabians and deserves help from his fellow Fabians. However, primarily it is about love for the Labour Party itself. The local organiser who kindly drove me to the campaigning session and back described the ward as a ‘marginal within a marginal’. This to me was a pithy explanation of the importance of Pensby and Thingwall to Wirral West in 2015. In order to make headway in our target seats we must fight to win council places for our council candidates. By doing this we will give ourselves a head start in ensuring a Labour majority in 2015.

No doubt you think this is so self-evident as to not require stating. However, in practice we often neglect these matters at our peril. So what is the peril to the constituents of Wirral West if we don’t fight these council by elections? Esther McVey is the disabilities minister and recently announced that 300,000 disabled people will have their benefits cut. In a cynical move, these cuts are to be delayed until after the next election in a ploy to retain her seat. Voters should be in no doubt that if McVey is allowed to keep her seat that the Tory-led government cuts will continue to fall on the poorest and most vulnerable in our society.

The good news is that we don’t have to wait until 2015 to get McVey out, we can start now by helping Phil Brightmore.

Election day is on 28th February 2013. Do contact me if you want details of the campaign.