Tuesday and it’s sunny Swindon to campaign for Anne Snelgrove and her team, along with a visit from Tristram Hunt – he’s also here to meet with local head teachers and explain further Labour’s policies for schools. Over the weekend the papers report current polling that has this seat neck and neck between us and the incumbent, while the last Ashcroft poll (March) has a dead heat. All to play for.
Door knocking takes us to the Peatmoor, on the fringes of the town near a forest park and reservoir. The street names (Squires Copse, Furze Close, Newmeadow Copse) and the jackdaws, remind us how close to open country we are here. The blossom and tended gardens are a reminder of how much the British people value green spaces and access to nature. It is sometimes a shame that we have to remind some voters that it was a Labour government that created the National Parks legislation, and the green belt through the Town & Country Planning Act (both by the ’45 government). In our ambition to build the homes people need we should remember the green spaces, the benefits they bring to health, and flood protection when they are well designed, and recall the work of Nye Bevan as Housing Minister, who ensured the building of homes of a decent size with gardens and space, and the new towns (rather than MacMillan, who built more, but worse, many of which have since been demolished).
There’s a good reception on the door step, lots of support and the occasional goose bumps as a whole house say ‘we’re with you’ – this might not be 1997, but their support and the sunshine are doing a good job of bringing that back to mind. Let’s hope the sunshine continues, more opportunities for us to canvas, have the conversations and for our voters to come out. The session closes with leafleting at a primary in the town, opportunities to meet parents and give kids balloons and flags – they’re all gone in less than 20 minutes. It’s very cheering to see a ten year-old skip away with their Labour balloon and a big grin!
A good day on the fringes of Swindon. And a final thought given the way the Tories seem to be headed:
“The Tories, every election, must have a bogey man. If you haven’t got a programme, a bogey man will do.” Nye Bevan.
Hywel Lloyd is a Co-founder of Labour: Coast & Country
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Labour: Coast & Country.