Steve Harwood

Labour Activist, #Sharkstoppers Campaigner and Blogger

Labour Activist, #Sharkstoppers Campaigner and Blogger. All views are my own (well, some were originally my mother's...) 

Why we NEED #Stella4Deputy (NEED)

“What went wrong?” The first question put to any Labour MP on every television sofa, press call or panel, and no two answers are the same. People didn’t believe our message. People didn’t like Ed. We didn’t understand people’s aspirations. We didn’t offer people an alternative. The only thing these commentators had in common was they all talked about “people” as if they weren’t one.


Which, if you think about it, is probably what went wrong.


Everyone is racing to distance themselves from the previous vision and present us with their own. They all tell us what the election result told us quite definitively – that we hadn’t convinced people we could represent them. Then they tell us what would have convinced “the people”, what they think represents them. Or, to put it another way, we guessed wrong last time so let’s guess again.


Or we could elect Stella Creasy as Deputy Leader.


The thing that makes Stella Creasy different to most politicians is the thing the Labour Party needs most right now. Because she doesn’t just offer a list of policy ideas and her own priorities – she offers a new way of making policies and setting priorities. A grass roots, community activism that was the foundation of the original Labour movement and is still effective in a modern world. She doesn’t just advocate a new politics, she actually goes out there and does it, and she proves it works.


It’s one thing for a candidate to promise they’ll engage communities, but Stella Creasy actually has. She didn’t convince Walthamstow to get behind her vision; she helped them realise theirs. She listened to people, got involved in their lives, bothered to ask them what issues mattered to them. She organised people, taught campaign skills, linked groups together. She didn’t just use her power to help them, she gave them power for themselves.


You might be thinking by now that I’m either a slight scary Stella #SuperFan, or a paid employee of the #Stella4Deuty campaign team. I’m not. I don’t have her picture pinned in my locker and I’ve never worked for her, directly or indirectly. I have been moved to make this post in such enthused tones because I know that Stella can help people – because I am one.


Like so many “people”, not so long ago I was completely disengaged with politics. Other issues had got in the way. My low wage. My poor living conditions. My ever increasing payday loan bill. I was the sort of person politicians talked about, never to.


When I went along to a #SharkStoppers meeting I was expecting a specific – and familiar – reaction. I was expecting her to put on her Concerned Face, nod impatiently while I was talking, subtly suggest that it was at least partly my own fault, and then recite whatever it was she’d been planning to say about ‘poor people’. But she didn’t. She actually responded to what I was saying. She asked me questions, about my life, my opinions, the issues affecting me. By the end of the conversation I wasn’t just talking about a campaign; I was planning one.


Stella’s campaign put me in touch with likeminded people. It gave me access to skills and training I could never have afforded. It got me, and thousands like me, engaged in the process and put us in control of our own message. And it worked. The cost of credit has been capped. A new regulator is cracking down on shady practises. Stella Creasy didn’t do that for us, but we couldn’t have done it without her.


If people don’t believe our message, maybe we should try championing theirs. If people don’t agree with our priorities, maybe we should ask them what their priorities are. We are, after all, supposed to be the party of the people – we can’t be that for as long as we think we’re entirely separate from ‘the people’.


Please, if your local Labour MP hasn’t nominated anyone yet, get in touch and ask them to nominate Stella Creasy. Go on, do it now, while there is still time to get her name on the Ballot. Because if we have a voice like Stella Creasy, we have all the voices she would have given back to people – you know ‘people’, the ones we desperately need to identify with if we are to survive as a party. E-mail them, tweet them, pop in and see them –


Go on; I’ll wait here. 

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