Let me finish with one more election story. It’s a Tony Blair visit to Hove in the run-up to 2005 GE. It’s a visit to a Sure Start Centre. Any organiser who has worked for the Labour Party for more than about five minutes has organised a visit to a Sure Start Centre. Parents, kids, colourful toys.
What can go wrong?
Well, of course, when you are in the middle of a war there will be people who want to protest, and when I arrived with colleagues well in advance a small band of protesters were beginning to assemble.
Being Hove rather than Orgrave, they were neatly assembled behind the barriers the police had put out. On the other side of the road. And, if I remember rightly, they were singing. It was Hove, after all.
There didn’t appear to be any particular threat to the event or even to our arrival shots. But there were two young women sat on the wall leading to the entrance to the library building which housed the Sure Start. I thought I should see why they were waiting. If this was the first step toward the anti-war protestors crossing over the road, I wanted to stop it before it started.
They told me that they had heard Blair might be visiting and they wanted to see him. I asked if they were wanting to join the protest – but no. They wanted to see him because they were both mums, victims of abusive partners and now single parents. They had been trapped in a squalid accommodation trying to bring up children, literally on the bread line. Living on handouts from friends.
Until Sure Start changed their lives. Now in work, in decent homes, they were rebuilding their lives. They wanted to say thank you to Tony Blair and to the Labour Party. And that reinforced the lesson that I’d first learnt in 79 when I joined the Labour Party.
That I relearnt in 83 and in 87 as a volunteer.
And as a staff member in 92 and 97.
And each and every time the Labour Party contests an election.
We can be a Party of Protest. On the other side of the road. On the other side of the barriers. Or we can be a party of power, this side of the road, this side of the barriers.
Changing hearts; Changing minds; Changing lives.
I know which side I have tried to be on.
The whole speech is very good. http://chalkhilldigital.info/when-th...c-has-to-stop/