I like New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. It give us the opportunity to reflect on the last year and look forward to the next.
2015 started for me with the #StokeNYE firework display with hundreds of people on the streets of the Town Centre (see left). This was particularly successful and it seems to be growing year on year. Hopefully, we can continue to grow the event this year.
There was much to look forward to with the national and local elections coming up in May. Over the next few months I spent many a happy hour speaking to constituents about their priorities. When election day came we had spoken to sufficient people to give us victory. We were also successful in the parliamentary election locally. Both these successes were overshadowed by the loss of control in the council and the failure to win nationally.
Additionally, it was disappointing that we lost votes to a variety of candidates which almost let UKIP win. Let's be clear there is a spectre hanging over Europe. In this country, in this city it is represented by UKIP. We have just seen the far-right Front National in France make gains in former industrial cities in the across North by preying on the insecurities of the population. That is what UKIP are doing here. We need to redouble our efforts to counter their bitter message.
The Summer was lit up by the Labour leadership campaign. I was in London on 12th September to see the stunning first round victory of Jeremy Corbyn which confounded all critics - including the bookies. Nearly 60% of 1st preference votes! Lots of things changed that day and let's just remind ourselves about a few of the things that have been achieved in just under three months (when this was written) under Corbyn:
- forcing George Osborne to drop his cuts to child tax credits;
- making David Cameron cancel the prisons contract with Saudi Arabia;
- ensuring a partial climbdown on the trade union bill;
- increased Labour Party membership by 190,000 since the election, creating a grassroots movement;
- forcing a Government u-turn on police cuts;
- instituting a massive public debate over airstrikes in Syria, engaging more than 100,000 Labour members and supporters in a consultation;
- comprehensively beating UKIP in Oldham, a northern "heartland" seat and
- introducing a new way of doing PMQs, allowing the voice of the public to be heard inside the Commons.
The new year presents us with great challenges and opportunities. We have already started engaging with our new members and recruiting volunteers. Our street stalls on Osborne's Tax Credit cuts were well received and it was valuable to all to undertake the voter registration campaign. We shall continue to develop activity and raise our profile in 2016. We hope to start to put out more literature to keep people informed and, of course, have more social events! If you would like to join us please use the "Volunteer" button on this page.
So I wish all my neighbours "Happy New Year"