|The Royal Norfolk Show, Bawburgh - KEVIN MILLICAN|
North West Norfolk Labour won back nine seats - all from the Tories - in this month's borough Election.
Labour's success owed a great deal to its practical, informative, listening campaign, harnessing the local zeitgeist, giving people not normally politicised the opportunity to take ownership of the most momentous decision affecting the community for decades.
My motion on the local executive committee in summer 2010 brought Labour on board against the Tory plan to build a mass-burn incinerator next to the town centre and our most deprived communities.
I took out teams of new Labour members, talking to people on the doorstep, leafleting, collecting signatures to Labour's petition.
The campaign resonated as the voice of a small community against the power of a multinational - People against Corporate Power. It was about the conflict of interest between a rural area and a geographically remote county council - People against Top-Down Government.
It was about political engagement as against political apathy. It was about building bridges for the greater good of the community and future generations, about love of place and the local environment. It became a debate about democracy itself. It led to the first local referendum.
Labour and Greens, Independents and Liberal Democrats, doctors and farmers united in a new democratic consensus. This challenged the local Tory hegemony which appeared high-handed, unlistening, hidebound. I headlined our election campaign, Vote Labour for a Strong Voice for Lynn.
Secondly, blue Labour and Maurice Glasman's initiatives for the living wage, for fair public procurement and the right balance between wages and profits are the way Labour can win back the squeezed middle and working poor.
Cosmopolitan, universal, and metropolitan strands of New Labour's outlook were experienced in rural areas like North-West Norfolk as the insecurity of globalisation which alienated sections of the Labour vote who felt unconsulted, disempowered.
Migration wrongly acted as an unofficial wages policy as local manufacturing downsized its permanent workforce just because it could, unions were weakened and fear and apathy reigned - and still reign- in the workforce.
So voters stopped voting Labour and some thought about voting BNP. It was our job this Spring to listen to people on the doorstep and acknowledge people's pain and need for empowerment in the workforce, as we persuaded them back into the Labour fold.
It is also thanks to London Citizens' victory with a well known supermarket, that local people in West Norfolk who work 60 hours a week as contracted-out cleaners on the minimum wage will be now able to afford to spend more time with their family.
First published on ProgressOnline, 17 May 2011.