We had a good Rothwell Labour Party meeting this week. We had a lively discussion about what we all thought about recent national issues, including the devastating recent Euro election results, the expenses scandal, ID cards and elected mayors. We also talked about the issues local to us such as the incinerator which is to be built near us, that our MP is retiring, the fact that Oulton residents are feeling the effects of having lost their library, are amongst some of the subjects we got around to discussing.
Today was ‘Open Farm Sunday’ which is great as it gives everyone the opportunity to experience the countryside and connect with the land that feeds us.
We went to a local farm, Swillington Organic Farm, which was taking part, with our little girl Esme. I know Swillington well, having lived there before we moved to neighbouring Carlton, Rothwell, I represented Swillington as a Garforth and Swillington councillor for 6 years so have many friends.We have also gone to the farm shop for its lovely produce several times, as well as getting our Christmas trees there regularly. We were lucky as we bumped into Colin Burgon MP for Elmet and Rothwell who was also enjoying the delights of the farm.
I’m very sorry that our local MP Colin Burgon has decided to stand down and not run at the next general election. As a member of the local party I have received a letter from Colin explaining his decision and expressing his heartfelt gratitude to the local party for the real team effort over many years that saw Colin take the seat for Labour in 1997 and retain it since. There is also an article in tonight’s Yorkshire Evening Post about Colin’s decision to stand down.
Colin has been a hard working MP for local people and one who isn’t afraid to speak his mind. I admire him for both these reasons and thank him for the long service he’s given the local party (26 years) not just his time in office but also including the long hard years leading up to our victory in Elmet. I’ve known and worked with Colin for a lot of years, having lived in Elmet and Rothwell for 17 years and was pleased to be one of the team of local members who have put the work in time and again year in and year out.
I had the privilege to serve as a Leeds City Councillor for the Garforth and Swillington ward for six years from 1998 to 2004 and more recently stood as candidate in the Rothwell ward, and so have worked alongside Colin on many local issues over the years such as fighting opencast mining, campaigning for better road safety and fighting to save two of our police stations from closure.
It‘s just a shame that Colin is going out the way he is. I’m proud that we’ve had a Labour government for the last 12 years and to have helped to be a part of what we have achieved as a party together. Colin’s comments on “New Labour” are unhelpful because it has been our willingness to change and adapt with the times that has allowed us to be able to serve as a party in government. We have an unprecedented third term in office thanks to our modern approach.
Colin is right that the link with the Unions should never be broken and I’m proud of always being a Unison member when I was a local government officer and more recently being a member of the T&G.
I also feel strongly that we should never forget our values. The worldwide economic crisis we face is worrying for us all, and no-one is going to solve this overnight. I’d rather place our current economic problems in the hands of a person with the experience of Gordon Brown than a lightweight like David Cameron any day.
If Labour is to win a fourth term It is essential that we win seats like Elmet and Rothwell. I’ll be working hard campaigning to win whoever the candidate to replace Colin Burgon is.