This is a collective interim reply to your comments, as I’m completely overwhelmed by the response. Approaching 400 emails have come in, 98% of them urging me to put my name forward for consideration, and in many cases promising practical
help – canvassing, leafleting, donating – to give us a real chance.
I’ve been responding individually, but the new emails are outpacing the speed of replies, so here’s an interim answer for everyone:
Yes, I’ll put my name forward!
I’m aware of several excellent other candidates applying. In particular, my old friend Greg Marshall, a prominent Beeston councillor with great credentials, has put his name in. I will be glad to support any of them if they’re selected.
I’ll write more when we know which of us it is.
The decision is expected Thursday night or Friday morning. In view of the short timescale, the decision will be made by the national and regional party, and what we are doing here is making sure that they have a good choice.
If you simply replied “yes, please go for it!” (or in half a dozen cases,“no, don’t!”),
thank you very much for the input, whichever choice you indicated. Please forgive me for not writing back to say that individually.
If you asked a question or raised an issue to discuss, I will reply, but please give me a few days to work through the list so that I can reply substantively – one of the differences from some politicians which I try to ensure is that everyone
who asks a civil question gets a civil, personal, thoughtful answer, but hundreds of thoughtful answers don’t write themselves instantly!
SPRING CLEANING AND COMMUNITY SPIRIT were in full swing on Thursday as residents
in Stapleford helped improve the environment in and around Matthews Court, Meredith Court, Byron Court, Sheridan Courts and Aaron Close.
Broxtowe Council housing officers joined forces with residents along with council contractors Vinshire
Heating & Plumbing Ltd., Novus Solutions and the Council’s ground maintenance team to provide a spring clean to communal areas and walkways.
A skip was made available to dispose of bulky domestic items such as unwanted furniture and garden waste
due to a good turnout of both younger and older residents.
Andrew Besford, Operations Manager for Novus Property Solutions said : “At Novus we love getting involved
in these types of community events, as a local employer we pride ourselves on respecting the neighbourhoods in which we work and take great pleasure in assisting to create a cleaner country, free from litter”.
This year marks the fourth year of the Council’s popular Community Clean events which help improve the
local area and generate a strong sense of community spirit throughout the Borough. Further Community Cleans are planned for later in the year.
I’ve been asked by Labour whether I’d like to be considered as our candidate for Broxtowe. I need to decide by this weekend, so I thought I’d consult you. 10% of the homes in Broxtowe get my emails, so it’s a good sample.
As most of you know, I was Broxtowe’s MP from 1997 to 2010, when Anna Soubry won by a tiny majority. We had a consistently better result for Labour than nationally – in 1992 and 2010, the national result was very similar, but in Broxtowe the Conservatives
won by 16% in 1992 and just 0.7% in 2010. In 2015, I stood again, and this time the Tory majority was bigger:
Anna Soubry (Con) 45.2%
Nick Palmer (Lab) 37.2%
Frank Dunne (UKIP) 10.6%
Stan Heptinstall (LibDem) 4.0%
David Kirwan (Green) 2.9%
It’s common that MPs do best when they first stand for re-election (the so-called “incumbency bonus“, which wears off over time). Whoever is Labour’s candidate will need to avoid the slippage in national polls, gain floating voters and win over as many as
possible of those who voted for LibDems and Greens last time: if there ever was a seat where it was clear that Labour is the only credible challenger to the Conservatives, it’s Broxtowe.
I’ve spent the last few years working for an animal welfare organisation in London. It’s been a lot of fun and rewarding for the animals (I visited 25 countries to lobby Governments and MPs in three years, effecting policy change from the EU, China and Korea
to Brazil), but since November I’ve been back in Nottingham, working as a freelance translator, lecturer and political consultant. I’m currently living just outside Broxtowe, a few minutes from Nuthall Island.
There are two aspects to consider: the national scene and the local campaign.
- The national scene
If the polls are correct, the Tories are heading for a gargantuan victory, which would enable them to put through anything they wanted – ostensibly for Brexit, but in reality in every other policy area too. That’s unhealthy for democracy, for Britain and
even for the Conservatives. They would get a blank cheque for whatever Brexit deal May chooses to recommend, plus any number of other policies that are getting minimal attention because of the media focus on Brexit:
The NHS and social care: waiting lists are soaring, social care options are shrinking, and the Government seems unwilling to tackle either
Education: the obsession with grammar schools is obscuring neglect of other schools across the country. The problem isn’t the 15% of pupils who get into a great school. It’s the 85% who don’t, and find government cuts piling up.
Environment: the haze of fine words has dissolved into a willingness to let developers roll over local opinion. (Remember the promise to stop Field Farm?)
Specifically on Brexit, it is clearly right that any Government should attempt to reach a good deal based on the referendum result. But equally we should not enter negotiations on the basis of “We don’t care how bad the deal is, we’ll take it anyway” – quite
apart from anything else, it’s a rubbish negotiating strategy. We need to give Parliament a genuine say in two years’ time of whether to accept the deal or not. A huge Tory majority will not offer genuine challenge.
- The local scene
To be fair to Anna Soubry, she is often critical of the Government, and I think she is genuinely liberal on social issues such as gay marriage. But she is making the same mistake that I made in my early years in Parliament: when push comes to shove, loyalty
kicks in and she virtually always votes with the Government or abstains.
I came to see that it’s an approach which ultimately does nobody any favours: not Britain, not the party, and certainly not Broxtowe. What Parliament needs is strong, independent-minded MPs on both sides of the House who consult constituents and then are
willing to vote for what they believe is best for Britain.
The question is whether I should put my name forward (clearly there will be other strong candidates too). Let’s identify some downsides. I’m 67. I’ve lost twice. I’ve been largely out of Broxtowe politics for the last two years.
And some upsides. We need a credible candidate who can appeal across traditional party lines: it’s something I’ve always done. We need someone who’s hard-working, experienced, not unreasonably partisan but willing to be frank when Government policy goes
wrong. I think I tick most of those boxes.
Would you like me to stand? And would you support me if I did?
Community Exhibition Consultation on New School and Residential Development on Coventry Lane Playing Fields
Click on the link to see the display of information at yesterday’s consultation.