When it came to supporting a candidate for Deputy it was a very simple choice for me – I wanted to back someone with a proven track record in fighting for our region, standing up against vested interests and someone who is willing to listen to members. Tom Watson is the only candidate with the skills and experience to help lead the Labour Party.
I have known Tom Watson for many years, through his work for Sikhs for Labour. He has championed the causes of Sikh people and called for greater representation of Sikhs in the House of Commons and Lords. I have also seen the fantastic work he has done as constituency MP in the West Midlands. He helped secure funding for the new Sandwell College and led the campaign to transform the High Street in West Bromwich with new restaurants, shops and a cinema. A new leisure centre is on its way in Wednesbury too – helping to develop our region and create jobs. I believe he can and will apply the same passion for this region to the whole country.
Tom understands the importance of developing an industrial strategy for the region and the country so we can reduce our economy’s dependence on the financial services sector. At a time when there is much talk and debate about creating a so-called Northern Powerhouse, it is vital we have a strong voice speaking up for the West Midlands. As the first person from the West Midlands since Roy Hattersley in the 80s to stand for a leadership position, I believe Tom will ensure we get the jobs, skills and investment this area needs.
On the national stage Tom has shown great conviction and a willingness to lead in tackling the issues that he believes strongly in. He was one of the first MPs to call for a separate Labour ‘yes’ campaign in the EU referendum, a vote we must win if we are to continue to make the most of the benefits EU membership brings.
Tom has shown time and time again that he isn’t afraid to tell it like it is. He’s stood up to Rupert Murdoch over phone-hacking at the News of the World and helped to expose child abuse at the heart of the establishment.
But above all else, Tom understands the Labour Party leadership needs to be closer to its members and its councilors again. He knows the only way we can rebuild as a party is to listen to the experiences of our members on the ground. If he’s elected deputy, Tom has promised to spend at least one day a week on the road meeting Labour members to listen to their concerns and find out what the leadership is doing right and where it can improve.
I support Tom’s plans to use new technology more effectively so that members can initiate new policies rather than just being consulted on them. But that doesn’t mean he will hiding behind a computer – he travelled to 109 constituencies in the run up to the General Election and has visited many more since. No one is better placed to rebuild our party from the grassroots up.
That’s why I urge all of you to support Tom – so we can work together to create a Labour Party that can win in 2020.