Farewell as Wandsworth Labour leader

I wanted to say thank you for your support during my time as Wandsworth Labour leader. I’ll stop being leader of the opposition on Wandsworth Council on July 15.

I’ve led the Wandsworth Labour Group for the last four years. It’s an honour and I’ve enjoyed it hugely. These are turbulent times in politics – I’m really proud of the way our Labour family stood together to face the challenges of Brexit, the 2017 and 2019 General Elections and now the Coronavirus crisis. Thank you for everything you do.

We’ve come a long way. In 2010, we had nine councillors and one local MP. Now in 2020 we have 26 councillors and all three local MPs. Our local membership has doubled and trebled. I get messages from Labour colleagues all over the country praising the amazing campaigning spirit they see across Battersea, Putney and Tooting.

We know how to get results. This last year we ran a series of clever and compassionate campaigns. Our great teamwork led to the council declaring a climate emergency and committing to be carbon neutral by 2030. Let’s follow up on this fantastic break-through.

Our brilliant team of councillors got results in the Town Hall on safer streets, food poverty, 20mph, the living wage, Black History Month, taxicards, sprinklers, estate regeneration and much more. We’ll keep going.

I look forward to playing my part to help our community recover from the Coronavirus crisis – and then make sure we rebuild a safer, stronger and more sustainable Wandsworth.

We have much to do. Our resilient, diverse communities represent the best of modern London. But inequality still scars Wandsworth. We need to take a fresh look at all our plans in the light of the Coronavirus crisis, the Black Lives Matter movement and the climate emergency. This is a new period in politics.

The time away from leadership will allow me to support my – patient and neglected! – Latchmere ward colleagues Tony and Kate. Walking around Battersea, meeting people and thinking about how we can make things better is something I’ve really missed.

I can also spend more time with my family – our fourth child is due in October. I’m grateful that Labour colleagues have been so flexible about my family and work commitments. It’s only through understanding and support that it’s been possible for me to balance a political life with my day job and watching so much Peppa Pig.

Being leader is a real challenge and great fun – you can get an idea of the highs and lows from this collection of 19 pictures that sum up my 2019 in politics.

I’ll continue to work hard for a Labour win in the 2022 local elections – hope to see you out on the campaign trail soon. I love campaigning and my goal is to win the council from the Tories after a 44-year wait. For me, it’s unfinished business. We need a radical, innovative council that truly listens to local people.

I’ll also use the time to help attract the most talented, diverse set of councillor candidates we’ve ever fielded. As I said in this Town Hall speech, Wandsworth has a great history of welcoming outsiders and turning them into leaders.

Please get in touch if you would like to get my perspective on standing as a Labour councillor. The Labour Party is always a team effort.

I remain ambitious for everyone in our community and optimistic about our future. Thank you very much for your valuable work for the cause – and thank you for my opportunity to serve as Wandsworth Labour leader.

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