Lifelong Labour activist and local councillor, Chris Spence, has announced he is standing for selection in the seat recently vacated by Tristram Hunt, and has vowed to bring grassroots Labour values back if he is elected.
In an exclusive statement for The Prole Star, Chris outlined his history in Labour, and pledged to prioritise the issues which really matter to ordinary eople in the Stoke-on-Trent Central constituency.
"I grew up in a mining family during the strike of 84-85, and although my grandad was out of the pits by then due to his bad health, we saw what happened to our communities as a result of deliberate government policy to weaken the working class in this country. I’ll never forget the devastating results that were the backdrop to my childhood, and I have been switched on to politics ever since.
But I also remember the solidarity and community spirit shown by ordinary people, and how we used to collect up food, toys and donations from neighbours, friends and family as well as people on the street, to help look after each other during the strike. I remember everyone sharing what little they had, so that everyone’s life was that little bit easier – it was the last time I saw the “Spirit of the Blitz” on a large scale in Britain.
Ever since Margaret Thatcher declared “There is no such thing as society” we seem to have been moving away from that solidarity, mutual support and respect for one another, and the results are plain for all to see. Communities divided against each other; anti-social behaviour; litter; rudeness; prejudice against disabled people and ethnic minorities on the rise. Whether you think of yourself as on the “left” or “right” of the Labour Party, it’s time to admit that the disillusionment and apathy many voters feel is a symptom of this “hollowing out” of our communities and our democracy.
I want to change that. I know these are seriously hard times for ordinary people, because that is exactly what I am, an ordinary working person just like you. I have worked as a cleaner; in call-centres; in factories and warehouses; and for the last 8 years I have worked in our family shop, selling ethically-traded goods – no high-flying positions insulated from the lives of my neighbours! I grew up and went to school and college in North Staffordshire, and have lived around Stoke and Newcastle for the last 30 years. I believe it is this deep-rooted connection and love of the area and its people that we need in our next candidate for Stoke-on-Trent Central.
Incomes, housing, our health, education and legal services – the very pillars of our society for more than 60 years - are now under assault. For us to improve things we have to start at the community level and rebuild those bonds of mutual respect and solidarity, bring people together to help them improve their communities and their lives and not set them one against the other in a crazy dog-eat-dog race to the bottom.
I have a track record of organising and campaigning, and many Stoke Central members will know me already because of this. Whether it is Action for Rail, the campaign to save beds at Bradwell Hospital, or the innovative “Labour Community Action Team” which I have developed in Newcastle, campaigning effectively against injustice is in my DNA.
When we organise together, we can win. Join me in making this community a better place to live through our collective efforts, and let us rebuild the political voice of ordinary people so that we are no longer ignored in favour of the super-rich and the mega-corporations. Together, let us win for Labour."