When I became Leader of the Labour Group in 2012 we’d already been out of control of Crawley Borough Council for six years, the only six years in the history of the borough, but we knew we had a good shot of changing that at the 2014 Local Elections.
I don’t believe in holding power for its own sake or making promises you don’t know you can keep, after-all all you really have in politics are your principles and your word, so I was determined that we had to put together a clear and costed plan of how we would seek to deliver Labour principles in the face of centrally-imposed austerity. The plan we put together started with Labour members and ended with council houses getting built, new services to help people access better careers and £60m of (mostly private) investment going into regenerating the town centre, helping preserve the retail jobs which make up the largest single sector of the town’s workforce.
The most telling moment for me that our manifesto was significant was my first time addressing council officers as Leader, finding out that everyone in that room had seen and read a copy of our manifesto. Since then we’ve produced a manifesto at every set of local elections, they form our contract with the electorate and we’ll be rolling out our latest proposals for Crawley’s future during the short campaign in March/April 2018.
Yesterday we kicked-off the first official part of the process with a meeting for all members of the party to feed in their ideas, ideas which portfolio-holders will then work on to produce clear manifesto sections for further revision by members and councillors. The process may be long but it’s essential, both as a part of a being a democratic mass-membership party and in producing a manifesto which is credible, deliverable and socialist at its core.