Here’s Ronnie Campbell’s pitch to Labour Party members asking for him to be re-selected as MP.
Branch meeting 18th Nov 2013.
“First off, I would like to thank all of you in the Constituency Labour Party for your support over the years. You are the backbone of the Labour and trade union movement. I would also like to thank my wife Deirdre, who has kept the flag flying on the county council, and the rest of my family.
Most of you know me, and my background, so I will not bore you with a lengthy biography. But, for the record, I grew up in a family of eight brothers and sisters, was educated at Blyth Ridley County High, a secondary modern which is now Blyth Community college, and left school at 14 to go down the pit aged 16 where I spent for 29 years at Bates Colliery. The sense of community and comradeship I learnt there has never left me. It is my main motivation. I was a Blyth Valley councillor and lay official of the NUM.
I was lucky enough to be elected to Parliament in 1987 and since then I have worked at a very different workface. Sometimes I feel that Westminster has softened my radicalism, but then I think; who better to take on the fat cats, the greedy bankers, the city yuppies, than an ex-miner? The comradeship and values of decency and fairness I experienced in the pits still exists in both Blyth Valley and Westminster. I’m proud to call myself a socialist and proud of a Labour Party heading for victory in 2015 against a miserable, discredited, Tory-led coalition which uses “austerity” to penalise the poor for the mistakes of the rich.
Mind you, I have also in the past voted against previous Labour governments on issues I feel passionate about, such as the Iraq War. I am no-one’s toady. However, I recognise that to win a crucial election we sometimes have to compromise without sacrificing core principle.
Now for the nitty-gritty details of my Parliamentary record. When the Labour government nationalised Northern Rock in 2008, I declared it the People’s Bank and opened an account but it was short-lived.
I have in no particular order, voted against replacing Trident, against raising the VAT rate because it impacts most strongly on the poor, against the ongoing undermining of comprehensive education, against the ban on smoking in pubs, against the proportional representation voting system – a shabby con trick to prop up the Lib Dems and boost Right-wing nutters – and against raising the undergraduate tuition fee cap to £9,000 per year. Most recently voted against HS2, I think the money could be better spent like the Blyth & Tyne rail link, which I have argued for years.
I have voted for foundation hospitals, the introduction of ID cards, and the hunting ban, the removal of hereditary peers, Labour’s anti-terrorism laws, and stricter asylum system.
My voting record, for the number-crunchers amongst you, is 71.6 per cent, and have, as a matter of conscience, voted against Labour’s front bench 17 times. I value loyalty, but occasionally I have to go with my conscience.
I regularly contribute to local newspapers – while I am no fan of the right-wing tabloid national media, I value the contribution of local newspapers to local communities. It also provides a platform to hammer the Tories, the Lib Dems and their sleazy fundmasters.
On constituency issues, I have pressed ministers on further education, the New Deal as it affects Blyth Valley, carbon capture and storage, Ashwell Prison, wind farms, childcare, Northumberland Social Service, adoption policy, and the effects of anti-epilepsy drugs on pregnant women. Pressed the government regarding the Enterprise Zones & was successful. I was very vocal regarding new schools for the future under Labour and again success you only need to ask Wansbeck how successful Blyth was (six new schools).
These are issues which rarely grab the headlines but which are of vital importance to the day-to-day well-being and quality of life of decent hard-working families at the sharp end of coalition cuts, which is evident every day.
I previously served on various select committees the Ombudsman Select Committee for 9 years and then spent a further 7 years when it amalgamated to become the Administration Select Committee. In addition, I spent four years on the Health Select Committee and two years on the Speakers Conference.
That is why I am asking for your support, as I am proud to be part of this great movement of ours and want to continue to serve the people of Blyth Valley for another term and if I am fortunate enough to be successful it will most probably my last.
Ronnie Campbell MP”