| || || |
|Interview with Jon Cruddas MP|
|I think CSM has got a massive part to play in the future of the Labour Party, but more broadly as a transmission port between different movement politics and party structures. The CSM does occupy that scene within a party, where people can link into it.
Breakthrough in brum and bransty
At the recent local elections Labour made some perhaps expected progress, picking up extra council seats where ground has been lost in the previous decade.
CSM spoke to two members who both stood and won seats for Labour in the Midlands and the North-West.
Please see below our interview with Cllr Gillian Troughton and Cllr Sam Burden about their experiences.
Cllr Gillian Troughton
1. Where did you stand for election?
Bransty Ward, in the Borough of Copeland
2) Briefly describe the ward/area
The ward is a mixed urban and rural area on the outskirts of Whitehaven in Cumbria. The Bransty part of the ward is ex-local authority housing, but the ward also contains an executive estate (The Highlands), a modern housing estate with substantial amounts of self-build (in Moresby Parks), a large amount of owner-occupied seventies housing (Bay Vista) as well some Victorian terraces and large rural areas of farms and detached houses.
The ward elects three councillors; all three were Conservative at the last election. The two councillors, re-standing, were both members of the shadow executive; one of which was the PPC in 2010.
3) How did you fare?
I was elected, as were my two Labour Party colleagues; this was considered a bit of an upset. I polled second highest of the candidates (801 votes); whilst the Conservative vote was largely the same as at the last election my vote was double any of the Labour candidate's poll. I am now portfolio holder for finance and resources
4) What was the highlight of the election?
Talking to people on their doorsteps and realising how many people wanted to vote for me. And the things I think are important for the area. A prayer meeting as part of our Lent Course where someone urged those present to vote for Christian candidates (and named me).
5) Was there anything helpful that you learned during the campaign, or did your campaign have an interesting angle?
We learned that talking to people is far superior to simply posting a leaflet through their letterbox. We also showed that you can win an election with hard work and without bad-mouthing anyone; our campaign was simply about us, our beliefs, what we were worried about and what we intended to try and do.
6) How did you approach the campaign as a Christian involved in the mission field of politics?
Through prayer. Long ago a friend started praying for me and encouraged me to get involved as an elected representative locally. He and his family have continued to pray.
I approached the campaign through prayer asking for help to overcome some hurdles. I also have continued to have an honest integrity. I have remained friendly with one of the opposition candidates (I know him through my former professional life) even chatting through the count; I was provided with an opportunity to explain my candidacy to him after prayer.
The opportunity to discuss my candidacy arose during the Lent course when I was worried about how to present myself to my Church family, some of whom have previously declared themselves to be Conservative voters (and have shown right-wing views in house groups). Everyone has been supportive even whilst acknowledging they might not vote by party but on an individual basis.
Prayer has also helped when things have not appeared to be going to plan. I have left my previous job (redundancy) and was hopeful of securing a similar post with the Diocese; I wasn't even short-listed! However this meant that I was able to apply for a Portfolio in the new Executive and was successful. Indeed the redundancy itself answered some needs as I was previously in politically restricted employment and could not have been a candidate if I had stayed.
I am pleased that I was able to sell myself honesty and without having to be rude about people. In particular I knew that one opposition candidate was basically a good guy (also a church-goer), albeit with politics I disagreed with. I intend to continue with my brand of honest politics and try and campaign for courses of action that help those most in need
7) ( Please summarise your experience or reflect on what happened and why it was important
‘Prayer has been immensely important, and the answers to prayer have provided me with both opportunities and security in the knowledge that I was right in my course of action.’
Cllr Sam Burden
1) Where did you stand for election? Hall Green, Birmingham City Council election
2) Briefly describe the ward/area – Birmingham suburbs, very mixed racially with large minority Muslim community as well as Hindus and Sikh’s
3) How did you fare? Best result in Birmingham 23.5% swing from the Lib Dems
4) What was the highlight of the election? Winning!
5) Was there anything helpful that you learned during the campaign, or did your campaign have an interesting angle? Hard work from a great team and showing that we were a strong and very credible alternative to the Lib Dem councillors that we have had in Hall Green for the last few years.
6) How did you approach the campaign as a Christian involved in the mission field of politics – Just getting on with it. I hope the way I conduct myself demonstrates my values
7) Please summarise your experience or reflect on what happened and why it was important – ‘There is no doubt that politics is about being in the right place at the right time. I first stood in Hall Green 9 years ago but this year it all went our way’.
If you are a CSM member and a local councillor then please do contact Tom Baker who runs the CSM Councillor network.
Tom can be contacted at: Tom.Baker@btinternet.com
Ian Geary, 01/07/2011