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WriteYou Founder Mike Joslin spoke with Ian Lavery
Ian Lavery isn’t a typical politician. Lavery is a refreshing change from an age of politician that went to university and then worked in or around politics before becoming an MP.
Ian was a deep coal miner. I’ve been with Ian to the former Ellington colliery where he worked in his youth. He represents the town where he was born and raised and is very well known in the local area. He became the MP in 2010.
In the last Labour Shadow Cabinet reshuffle he was appointed joint election co-ordinator with Andrew Gwynne.
I spoke to him about his politics and his priorities for the Labour Party. He was refreshingly frank about Labour’s election campaigning saying there is “no doubt” that Labour must embrace new developments.
He said, “With the changes that have taken place in Politics across the world, the same techniques that worked in the past may no longer be relevant today. With a strong set of policies rooted in the principles of the Labour Party, we have a great story to tell voters on the doorstep. Changing our approach to canvassing and campaigning is going to be part of a wider reconstruction of any old practises that need brought up to date to engage with both new age and traditional core voters”.
Here is the full interview.
Why did you get into politics and what motivates you every day?
To be honest I never thought I would be an MP! Like many people in my hometown and the surrounding area I became politicised during the Miners’ Strike of 1984-85 which changed me and left a permanent scar on Coalfield Communities. Remembering those events and the people who I’m now representing who I used to work with and who I’ve stood alongside –that’s what motivates me to keep fighting for change.
Tell me about your background, how did you get here?
I was born and raised in Ashington in Northumberland. I got to see from a young age the effect of deindustrialisation and its impact on communities like mine, across the country. I left school and joined a YTS scheme in Construction and later started working at the local pit. Joining the Union, I began to understand the importance of solidarity and from then on I wanted to right the wrongs of the Conservative government.
As an election co-ordinator for Labour what would you say is the biggest challenge to winning the next General Election?
Labour has always been a force for good in Britain, standing up for the most vulnerable in our society and offering a strong opposition to the Tories. However, in the current political landscape, all Political parties will have to prove to the people what they stand for and Labour is no different. Through policy and passion we must again demonstrate that we are the only Party that can make a difference and fight for a fair and equal society, for all.
A lot has been made of data targeting in elections. Are you planning any innovations to Labour's campaign methods?
The use of data targeting in elections is becoming more common and Labour have to be at the forefront of this. There are many ways we can refine and ensure that we optimise the data we use to explain how Labour would make people’s lives better. There are a range of technologies that I believe could help us use these techniques to their full potential, leading to a much slicker operation. I hope to maintain and develop these strategies in the lead up to the 2020 General Election.
The Labour Party was outspent on digital advertising at the last General Election, focusing millions of pounds instead on direct mail. I was wondering what you thought about this?
There’s no doubt that new developments must be made if we are to change our approach to national and local campaigning. I am pleased that the party has started to promote the use of bespoke technologies for use on the doorstep and the wider internet and social media. Watch this space.
How is the Labour Party going to create a conversation with voters, rather than just knock on their doors and ask how they are voting?
With the changes that have taken place in Politics across the world, the same techniques that worked in the past may no longer be relevant today. With a strong set of policies rooted in the principles of the Labour Party, we have a great story to tell voters on the doorstep. Changing our approach to canvassing and campaigning is going to be part of a wider reconstruction of any old practises that need brought up to date to engage with both new age and traditional core voters.
If you were in a room with President Trump what would you say to him?
I’m afraid such words probably shouldn’t be used in civilised company. However, I can assure you the conversation would probably be very brief!
Who would you say is the greatest ever elected politician?
There are many inspirations in the world of politics, old and new. But I’d probably have to reserve the shared role of greatest for my hall of fame; legends like Tony Benn, Nye Bevan, Clement Attlee etc. Politicians who changed people’s lives for the better.
If you could have a dinner party with anyone from history, who would you invite and why?
An interesting night would be made up of political heroes from across history and include the likes of Keir Hardie – Labour’s first MP, Thomas Burt MP – who was the first mining MP and the member for the constituency I now represent as well as Emily Wilding Davison – The famous suffragette, who is buried in my constituency of Wansbeck.
What are your top political priorities?
To keep up the work that the Labour Party started over 100 years ago and driven by the Trade Union Movement, to deliver a fairer and equal society for Britain. I, alongside my colleagues in the commons are determined to keep fighting for those who cannot stand alone in a system that punishes those most in need in our communities. For me, this should be the top political priority for any politician.
Why should people vote Labour?
There will be different reasons for everyone across the country. We teach children from a young age to promote fairness, equality and decency as a moral duty, why should our politics reflect anything different? As one of the biggest political parties in Europe, only Labour has the power and the passion to deliver a society that operates to deliver the change our society is built on. Delivering investment, fighting for Equality and treating everybody with Fairness – That is what the Labour Movement is for and that’s why people should vote Labour.
What next for the Labour Party?
The Road ahead for Labour is full of challenges, but I believe there is also a great deal of hope. The Labour Party is not disappearing or retreating into submission, we will continue to fight for all and provide a strong opposition to the Tories and ensure that each decision made by the Government will be held to account.