Two weeks ago today I was selected to stand as the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Greenwich and Woolwich at next year’s General Election. I have had a busy fortnight since, getting my campaign up and running, and have been inundated by very kind messages of support – including locally from some very, very unexpected places.
I am looking forward to introducing myself to residents right across the constituency and getting as many people engaged with this campaign as possible between now and May, including through our flourishing local blogosphere. I was therefore delighted to be asked to contribute a post to this new Greenwich.co.uk venture, which is a welcome addition to local online debate.
It is a huge honour to be standing in this wonderful constituency, and in the place I am proud to call home. I live in Blackheath and am a Conservative councillor, and also serve as Deputy Leader of the Opposition on Greenwich council. In my day job, I work for a national education charity and locally I am a long-standing primary school governor and credit union volunteer. I love our area and want to serve it as our MP to help bring about change – wherever it is needed, and in whatever way possible.
In our borough we have, for me, the perfect compromise between inner and outer London – the pace and opportunities of the city and the green spaces and quality of life of the suburbs. We have a rich history and a wonderful sense of community spirit – whether you live in Greenwich, Blackheath, Westcombe Park, Charlton, Woolwich or Plumstead, you can be sure that there are local community groups and organisations doing a terrific job in bringing people together.
Our area is not without its problems – far from it – and it is these that I will be addressing in my campaign. Whether it is over the state of our council housing, the challenges facing our small businesses or the appalling service we receive from Southeastern – and many more issues besides – I will stand up for local people and get things done. I have already made a start by backing residents’ efforts to get Woolwich Arsenal station moved into Zone 3, and am pleased to have brought about some movement locally in response to my call for a cross-party approach to make this happen.
It is fair to say that I am the underdog in this election. We have had Labour MPs for more than 20 years. Of the 21 councillors in the constituency, 20 are Labour. The council has been controlled by the Labour Party machine for all but 3 years out of the last half-century. In the north of the borough, Greenwich is a near-one-party state, and that has bred an unhealthy political culture that all too often sees residents lose out.
"The culture of Greenwich politics" really does need to change – and whatever the odds, I am determined to help bring that change about. I will not allow Labour to continue to take our area – and residents’ votes – for granted as they have over many, many decades.
Today also marks exactly nine months to go until polling day – and while it is an important one for our area, it is also a crucial one for the country as a whole. As residents enter the polling booth in 273 days’ time they will have a clear choice – not just over who should have the task of fighting Greenwich and Woolwich's corner as our MP, but between continued economic recovery with the Conservatives, or a return to square one with a Labour Party that refuses to learn from its mistakes.
I will work hard to make my case – on issues both local and national – to residents over the coming nine months, and am looking forward to a spirited and engaging contest.