Last week’s local and European election results had plenty of good news for Labour, especially in the North East, where our party gained an extra seat in the European Parliament and several council seats, including one in South Tyneside.
Both Coalition parties suffered heavy losses across the country, showing that voters are tired of a Government which is standing up for the wrong people, and does nothing to spread the benefits of recovery to those who need them most.
Speaking to voters on the doorstep during the campaign I heard the same stories over and over: parents who can’t afford childcare; people tired of waiting more than a week to see their GP; workers whose wages are failing to keep up with rising prices month after month; tenants hit by the Bedroom Tax who have nowhere else to go.
Between now and the general election next May, I want to explain the positive alternative Labour has to offer.
We want to expand free childcare, guarantee GP appointments within 48 hours, strengthen the minimum wage, and abolish the unfair bedroom tax.
We will also freeze energy bills, tackle rip-off rents and create a jobs guarantee to get long-term unemployed people into work.
Of course, UKIP also did well in these elections, and there were many people I spoke to who had concerns about immigration.
Labour wants to address the issue of foreign workers undercutting local wages, by making sure the minimum wage is properly enforced, with higher fines for those who use cheap foreign labour at the expense of British workers.
We will make firms take on an apprentice for each foreign worker they hire.
One disappointment in these elections was the large number of people who didn’t vote – more than six in 10.
Some people I spoke to on the doorstep didn’t feel like politics could offer real change or hope for the future.
I understand people’s frustration, but I disagree that politics can’t make a difference, and I will work hard to explain what Labour can do to change our country for the better.