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Why do I want to be the next Labour MP for Cambridge?

A few weeks ago, candidates were invited for interview by the Cambridge Labour Party short-listing panel and were asked to speak for five minutes on why they should be the next Labour MP for Cambridge. You can find excerpts from my speech below:

Let me make five quick points:

First. I’ve spent six years on this campaign – I want to finish the job. I’ve built a strong local profile. On the doorstep people recognise me. The media know me and come to me. I’ve built good relationships with key people in the community, it’s a part of the job that I love, and I think I do really well, going well beyond our normal comfort-zone. I think it would be foolish to throw away all that work…

Secondly. When the election comes, experience counts. Believe me, the Lib Dems will hurl everything at us. I’ve been there and passed the test. There was a lot going on last time people didn’t know about. The death threats directed at me that saw police at hustings events to protect me, the twitter scam to discredit me that had Martha Carney from the World at One on the phone to me almost making national news. Be sure you have a candidate who can cope.

And this is important – I backed Ed Miliband for Labour leader. I think one of the biggest issues at the election is likely to be Ed himself – there are different views in this room on leader, but in a marginal seat, it will be very hard to be a candidate when opponents are criticising your leader, and you didn’t support them. I know Ed, personally, he knows me. I was part of the team that got him elected. I can make the case for him!

Thirdly and perhaps most important. Being clear about why we want to win. That’s where our values count. Now, people do the job of MP in very different ways – I want to use the authority that comes with the office to intervene on behalf of the people who don’t have much power in this very divided city.

One small example: when residents in Montreal Square in Romsey asked me to come and help them, when they feared that their Housing Association wanted to redevelop their homes. I found a house with the downstairs emptied of furniture, packed with people. All pretty cynical about politics apart from Julie – one woman who just had the thought to turn to a Labour politician. And it didn’t need much – all they needed was someone to give them the support, the belief, the hope that something could be done. And they won their cause – and I’m proud that I was able to help, but how much more of that could I do with the authority of elected office. That’s the campaigning I believe in that isn’t just about winning elections, it’s about transforming lives, and that’s why I’m Labour. And that’s my passion.

But fourthly – there is a job to be done in Parliament and I’m so well-placed to do it. I know almost every member of the shadow cabinet personally. I know how Parliament works. I know how the Labour party works. I’m strong on policy. I’ve just topped the poll in the NPF elections because people know that. So I can do the job.

And this isn’t a time to learn as you go along. Our big chance to get the extra powers Cambridge City Council needs will come early in the Parliament. We  need to seize that moment and I’m already talking to Hilary Benn and the shadow Labour Local Government team about it.

And fifthly. I want to be the Cambridge MP because I want to strengthen Cambridge Labour. This local party matters to me. I’m a team player. I put a high store on unity – I will do what the MP needs to do, but I won’t be trespassing on the ground that rightfully belongs to councillors. I’ve always worked closely with the leaders of the respective Labour groups, and always strongly supported our local government campaigns. I’m proud to be part of Cambridge Labour. We are much more powerful and trusted than the national party, and I want to keep it that way!

In conclusion. I’m ready. I’m experienced. I’m established. I’m part of the team, and for the team. I know how to do the job and will do it well, and I’m raring to go!

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