I live in a safe Labour seat, which David Lammy won comfortably with a majority of over 34,000 votes in 2017. This means that I can afford to go away and campaign in marginal seats that Labour are hoping to gain or defend. There are around 100 marginal seats that Labour can gain from various opposition parties. There are also around 60 marginal seats that we need to defend.
On Saturday 9 November, my comrades and I from Tottenham Labour Party travelled to Milton Keynes to campaign in two seats: Milton Keynes North and Milton Keynes South. Both are marginal seats where Labour are just fewer than 2000 votes away from the Tories. We spent the morning speaking to residents in Milton Keynes North urging voters to back Labour’s Charlynne Pullen, a local candidate who was one of the first babies to have been born at Milton Keynes Hospital. The incumbent Tory MP stood down and the Tories have selected a new candidate who describes himself on his Twitter profile as a “drinker of beer” (perhaps modelling himself on Farage!). The Labour candidate fought the 2017 election and is more well-known than the new Tory candidate.
In a marginal seat like Milton Keynes North, we are fighting for every single vote. Every doorstep conversation we have is a potential new Labour voter. While there was a little hint of apathy, I had a positive response overall. An elderly gentleman showed me some anti-Labour propaganda that he had been reading in the Daily Mail that day. I managed to steer the conversation to how the Tories had failed the UK with nine years of austerity and that Labour gave us hope with investments in the NHS, free personal care for the elderly, giving back free TV licence to the over 75s and keeping the winter fuel allowance. These are some of the things that mattered to him. I left feeling that he would give Labour a chance.
I also knocked on the door of an actual ‘Workington man’ who was now living in Milton Keynes. He fit the stereotype of over-45, white man from a rugby town who had voted Brexit. The right-wing tabloids are hoping that the Tories will somehow win over enough ‘Workington man’ type voters in Labour strongholds to win an outright majority. The gentleman I was talking to was a swing voter. He was keen to engage with me about the NHS. He said that one would be lucky these days to get an appointment with their GP given years of under-investment under the Tories. He admitted that Labour is more trustworthy on the NHS. Again, he was another voter who said that he would consider voting Labour.
After lunch, we made our way to Milton Keynes South where the Labour candidate, Helen O’Neill came within 1,725 votes of taking the seat from the Tories in 2017. She is the deputy leader of the Milton Keynes Council. Although it was raining and cold, our spirits had not dampened. We knocked on doors and had those important conversations about Labour’s real change message.
I produced a video of our trip to the Milton Keynes marginals to inspire other Labour members to campaign in marginal seats across the country. At the 2017 general election, Labour successfully defended or won every single marginal seat in which my colleagues and I from Tottenham Labour Party campaigned. Labour members across the country should visit http://www.mycampaignmap.com where they can put in their postcode and it will tell them the nearest marginal in which to go and campaign.
Winning marginal seats like in Milton Keynes or defending marginal seats like Kensington where the excellent Emma Dent Coad is defending a majority of 20 will be the key to our success in this election. It makes sense to organise with a number of other comrades from your area. Carpooling is cheaper and more environmentally friendly. Send out a message on Facebook, your local activists’ WhatsApp groups or Twitter and organise your trip to a marginal seat. Labour has an energised army of ordinary members to take on the constant barrage of negative publicity in the right wing media. Having a doorstep conversation will be far more effective than the negative ‘fake news’ campaign that the Tories are orchestrating.