The Labour Party has initiated the selection of the new Parliamentary Candidate for Gloucester, and in the past few weeks I have had a lot of emails, messages and conversations asking me to apply, or assuming that I will be applying. I have wanted to address the local labour party for some time, but as we don’t have regular members meetings anymore, I am left with little choice but to articulate here, primarily for Gloucester Labour Members, the reasons I am not putting myself forward for this selection.
I would start by saying that representing the Labour Party in fighting for the Gloucester seat was a huge honour and privilege. We achieved the biggest number of votes since Parmjit Dhanda in 2015, and the biggest swing to Labour in Gloucester since Tess Kingham in 1997. Having represented Labour on a number of different platforms, i.e. The Police and Crime Commissioner elections, City Elections as well as being a County Councillor and Parish Councillor, I have had all the flavours of election, but the Parliamentary was certainly the most challenging for its breadth and diversity, but it was also one of the most rewarding because I got to meet so many people and organisations within the city. From learning more about Homeless issues, through to veterans causes and also a lot of the positive elements that go on to make our city a better place. Not to mention the people who came from all parts of Gloucester and beyond to help with the campaign, door knocking, leafleting and the social media presence.
However, through the last election there was an undercurrent, primarily of Gloucester Labour Executive Committee officers, who did all they could to distance themselves from the campaign. They would not campaign with the rest of the team, and would not engage with the campaign themes. Their actions through the campaign, and then, in the following months along side the actions of a minority of local Labour Councillors to smear my name in the press and in public have made it clear that they do not share my values of community and people before politics. Working in that atmosphere for 6 weeks was difficult but we did it for those people in Gloucester who desperately needed a Labour MP – to do that for 5 years is too much for me to ask my family and friends to put up with, as it is they who have been primarily hurt by the lies and deceitful actions taken against me.
To my wife, family and friends, I can only apologise that Local Labour Party Officers would use you in this way to try to ensure that I don’t get selected as a candidate. This is not what my politics is about. I would also like to apologise to those people who have contacted me and encouraged me to stand. Your faith and confidence in me is humbling and I’m sorry to let you down, but I hope you appreciate why.
Normally I would stand up to bullying like this and apply anyway, because given my experience and desire to help people, I think I would be one of the best choices. I stood up at the last election because I felt it was my duty to offer myself and my experience. However, I’m not going to put my family and friends through that sort of behaviour for the next 5 years. I am going to return to doing what I feel I do best and have always enjoyed and that is work with local people, organisations and businesses to develop great communities.