My first party conference

As I write this blog it has been a week, almost to the hour since I stood on the platform at the Labour Party conference. I was so nervous and said to myself as long as you don’t fall over or be sick you will be fine! I had decided to talk about ASBOs, something that I am very passionate about. You can view a video of my speech by clicking here.

This was my first conference I was a little bit apprehensive as what to expect. When I arrived on Sunday I checked into my hotel at Salford Quays (sadly it overlooked Old Trafford, but we can’t have everything!) and got the tram into the centre. My first task was to vote on the contempory issues ballot – this sounded very confusing. However, I quickly picked up what it meant and placed my X next to the ones that I agreed with.

Monday morning 9am start. You could feel the buzz outside whilst walking passed various different cameras trying not to be caught by their lens! Outside the main doors I saw John Prescott. I saw Prezza earlier this year at a rally in Manchester – I think he is such a great speaker! Then I had my photo taken with Harriet Harman who is the current Deputy Leader of the Party. We then went to a fringe event at the Radisson that BBC Radio 5 live was holding. This included Alistair Darling, Diane Abbott, a trade union representative and some Tory journalist called Fraser from The Spectator. It was fun and I really wish I had seen Diane Abbott more prior to the leadership voting.

On the Tuesday I gave my speech – I didn’t think that there were that many people in hall. After leaving the stage, Chris from Regional office asked me if I would like to sit behind Ed Miliband whilst he gave his first speech as Leader. This was brilliant! Although my hands have not hurt so much from clapping. On my way out that day everyone was being stopped by people with what looked to be mobile phones interviewing them, they stopped me and I didn’t think anything of it. I logged onto the Labour Party website and there I am. That night I went to the CWU fringe event, where a random man came up to me addressing me as “the lady who did the speech on ASBOs”, he said that he thought I was brilliant and would love a picture. I was shocked!! This continued over the next few days.

Wednesday morning I went it to the main hall, another 9am start and received a text saying that I was on the front page of the Independent. I shot out to get a look and there I was! I then got another text to say that I was in the Lancashire Telegraph (thank you Tom!). In the afternoon I got my picture taken with Ed Balls and one of our councillors asked him if I could have a kiss – he kissed me on the cheek! That night I attended the Unite event – brilliant night! I got to dance with Ed Balls, who I must compliment and say he is a very good mover.

To anyone who is thinking about joining the Labour Party, do it! I love that I am part of a team that has values. I have only been a member for less than a year (I don’t think that I am supposed to admit that!) but I feel that I have achieved so much. Join the party and get involved!

To view my pictures please click here.

A sign of the times?

After having a week off work to study for exams I came back to the office on Richmond Terrace to find a signpost outside.  It very nicely points people in the right direction to places in Blackburn such as the Town Hall, King Georges Hall and the Library. It has a very nice circle on the top with “Sudell Cross” on, “lovely” I thought, wonder how much that has cost me?

Today I read about the cuts that the Tory led Blackburn with Darwen Council are making, closures of community centres, leisure centres, libraries and various other cuts so that they can save money.  Take an as example Ivy Street Community Centre, it has recently been refurbished, having had £80,000 spent on it.  The Labour team regularly uses this centre for both surgeries and various meetings and it is always busy!

So ask yourself, if you were in charge of the money where would you spend it? And where would you make cuts? Would you rather have your leisure centre or big wheel outside the Town Hall at Christmas? Would you rather have a new signpost or put the money towards supporting the community centre?

How much do you earn a year? A Council Chief Executive can earn upto £158,000 a year, which is probably ten times an average Blackburn wage plus the car allowance that they get! I’m not saying that the Chief Executive doesn’t work hard and doesn’t deserve a good wage but compare it to your friends, a nurse perhaps? A teacher? Someone who does a night shift?  What about your job? Even the Prime Minister earns only an extra £40,000 and he’s running the whole country!

We all know that Blackburn isn’t the richest of places in the Country but there are only ten other authorities who have to make bigger cuts than us (all authorities with Labour MPs) (Blackburn with Darwen’s cuts are 1.7%).  However, the places where there are Tory MPs’ have to make fewer cuts, funny that isn’t it? It was one of Labour’s promises that frontline services would be protected.  We all need to be realistic, we know that some cuts are needed but what Labour is campaigning for is for each authorities share of the cuts to be fair and equal.

Anyway, after the England game on Sunday (I wont mention that again!) I sat in the pub listening to people complain and we got onto politics, no idea how that happened.  Being a massive Green Day fan (I went to see them twice in June) I quoted Billie Joe, the lead singer, who famously said, “You have the power, we are the leaders: don’t let these people dictate your life or try to tell you what to do, alright!”  So instead of complaining, get behind us and show your support!  You need your frontline services and we need your support! Get involved and help us make a difference!

What have 3000 people done in the last 24 hours?

I love politics… something I never thought I’d say.  Always thought that politics was something that other people did, the ones with politics degrees and who had nothing else to do with their lives.

I joined the Labour Party in January (shouldn’t really say that should I?! – but still it’s true) and it has made such a dramatic difference to me.  My friends always ask me what is going on and last night when I was in the refectory at uni the lady who was serving me was quizzing me all about a hung parliament and what it meant.

Now, I love politics.  For me, the reason I love politics is because it is about fighting for something that you believe in, standing up for what you think is right and having a voice to disagree with something you don’t.  One of my friends said to me after complaining about a few things that she didn’t vote in the last election, my point to her was that you have a vote use it – join in and fix it instead of sitting at home or in the pub complaining!

So I have decided to tell as many people as possible to join the Labour Party and get involved.  We need you!  There has never been a better time to get involved and show your support!

This election campaign has been brilliant and as most of you will know we had a fantastic result in Blackburn.  I had a man ask me at the count why Blackburn Labour Party are so good?  My reply, it is all about teamwork and more importantly fighting for what we believe is right – fighting for the many not the few!

The next election I want you to be a part of it!  So join https://secure2.labour.org.uk/join/ or if you’re unsure get in touch and I’ll be happy to have a chat with you – katie.haworth@blackburnlabour.org

A tale of two phone numbers

I often read the comments on the thisislancashire.co.uk website. I’ll be honest, I’m fairly new to all this politics business and I don’t pretend to know everything about it but what I do know is what I think would work for Blackburn. I am Blackburn born and bred, but now I do live in Darwen (simply due to the cheaper house prices and the nightlife).

My first encounter with Jack Straw was at a residents meeting which my Mum dragged me along to (literally dragged, it was on a Friday night – I mean who organises these things?!).  Once I was there I actually got quite into it.  A discussion very close to my heart came up (thanks to my Mum) – youths.  At this point I was working at a local law firm and knew the youths in the area and often asked them why they committed crimes, or why they thought it was funny to rip someone’s fence down “for a laugh”.  I found myself faced with Jack Straw and various Councillors and an audience and I stood up and said my bit in response to a comment from one of the local residents, “it’s all the parents fault”, something that I feel is not necessarily true.  After a bit of a “heated debate” Jack said to me, “talk to me at the end”, followed by some grey haired man laughing at me and said, “if I knew so much about how to put the local area right why didn’t I get involved”.  I told him why, “because I work full time and have a part time second job at the weekends as I am struggling to pay my mortgage and I am trying to fund my university degree otherwise I would!”  I sat down and my Mum whispered, “You’re in for it now”.

At the end of the meeting I was approached by a really nice lady and man, they introduced themselves (I had no idea who they were) and told me just how impressed they had been and asked for my opinion on various local issues.  This man was Michael Law-Riding, the Tory candidate for Blackburn. Michael told me he’d really like me to help him with his campaign and asked for my phone number and said that he’d definitely be in touch.  I also had a few comments from Councillor’s that where there -the grey haired man who was laughing at me, turns out he’s the leader of the council, Michael Lee, another Tory.  I finished the meeting having a chat with Jack Straw.  I’d never met him before but my grandparents knew him very well when they were alive.  We had a good chat and he also asked me for my contact details.

I don’t judge people by what others tell me, I make my own opinions, same as I think everyone should.  Jack Straw rang me and offered me a job; I’m still waiting for Michael Law-Riding’s call and Michael Lee, you were right, I can’t do anything about my local community and changing it for the better by sitting at home on my computer slagging everyone else telling everyone how wrong they are and how they shouldn’t do things that way.

So I dedicate this blog to the both of you, the two Michaels, because this year I’m standing as the Labour candidate for Livesey with Pleasington, hoping that I will be given the chance to make a difference and starting off with the basics – following through with something I say I’m going to do not just talking about it.  And for those people who chose to comment on the thisislancashire website this is for you – in the words of Michael Lee, “if you think you can do a better job why don’t you stand for council?”

Vote for someone who will actually do what they say they’re going to do! Vote for me on Thursday 6th May 2010.