It’s been a privilege to stand for Parliament in my home area. I’ve lost count of the people who’ve told me they remember me from school, or knew my dad from the mines, or who have a shared friend.
The mining tradition is still strong here, and gives us a real sense of community. My father was a miner at Fishburn colliery, and speaking at the unfurling of the new banner for the next door Deaf Hill pit, and marching into the Durham Miner’s Gala alongside miners from nearby Trimdon Grange are memories that will stay with me forever
People who don’t know the area might still associate us only with coal mining, but Sedgefield constituency is a diverse collection of former pit villages, market towns, and the new town, Newton Aycliffe.
I’m proud of what Labour’s achieved here over the last ten years, with new hospitals ringing the constituency, rebuilt schools and a thousand more businesses, but being a reformer and progressive means never, ever, being satisfied with what you’ve got. So I’ve been campaigning on the future- a regenerated town centre for Newton Aycliffe, more opportunities for our young people, and dealing with crime and the fear of crime that haunt so many of our communities.
The campaign itself has been hard fought but generally good natured. The Tory candidate told the local paper that Margaret Thatcher was his inspiration. I’m not sure that’s the right strategy to win votes in Sedgefield!
I’ve been unimpressed by the Lib Dems. Their “local” candidate actually lives, works and votes in Newcastle, and they’ve run the kind of campaign that’s designed to hide what they really stand for, with scare story after scare story. It’s pretty desperate stuff, and not convincing many voters.
I’m looking forward to the election night, and if the people of Sedgefield put their trust in me, I’ll start work right away to deliver investment, jobs and the strong public services our community needs.
Photo by Lisa Knight