|Labour Against the Bedroom Tax|
Now of course we are only 4 weeks away from implementation and it is the hottest topic around.
People often say things like "You are all the same, everyone out for themselves, nobody cares about us, nothing changes, it doesn't matter who I vote for, or whether I vote".
That is the kind of comment that really challenges people like me who are elected representatives. It spurs us on to do more, to work harder, to make a difference and to prove we are worthy of the honour of public office.
In tandem with that urge to make a difference, sometimes something comes up where you feel an absolute imperative to act. Not to shake your head and think "What a terrible situation this is, what a dreadful shame, what a pity that little old me cannot do anything about it" but instead to decide that you simply wont accept it and something must be done.
And so I have found myself drawing a personal line in the sand over the bedroom tax.
It seemed obvious to me that we needed to get some real momentum going behind a national campaign to fight this horrible policy; that we need to tell the real stories of the people who will be affected and ultimately force the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats into scrapping the policy through a combination of shame and electoral expediency.
So I approached the Labour councillors in Liverpool and asked for their support to launch a grassroots Labour campaign to fight it. A campaign that would not just run in Liverpool - because no Liberal Democrat or Tory MP would care a fig about the people of our city, they have proved that time and again, but a campaign that would run in every town and city in the country. A campaign that would run in their own back yards with their own constituents telling their dreadful stories and bringing the message.
My Labour colleagues have been generous with their time and even more importantly with their money, and last week we launched Labour Against the Bedroom Tax. It is a simple campaign, to collect and tell people's stories and to provide petitions and posters to help local Labour members across the country go out and campaign in their own areas. We have a Facebook page and a Twitter account @LabourNoBedTax where we can share news of events and updates on the latest situation, any legal challenges and so on.
I have been delighted with the response, Labour Party members everywhere are as angry as I am. We already have hundreds of followers and members and have sent out campaign packs all over the country, to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Luton, Manchester, Halifax, Hull, Eccles, Monmouth, Leeds, Reading, Cambridge, Dundee, Ashford, Corby, Chester, Cardiff, St Austell and Newquay, Stockton on Tees and many more.
We have also been handling dozens of cases where people are in desperate straits and need assistance with knowing what to do. I have been able to recruit volunteers who are mucking in, taking on cases, helping with the Twitter account and managing the Facebook page. We have a tremendous team of mainstream Labour Party members in Britain who are giving up hours of their time to get the campaign running strongly.
We are all absolutely clear that the Bedroom Tax is pernicious and must be scrapped. I am heartened by Liam Byrne's announcement of a national Labour Party campaign yesterday (who says members have no power or influence? We had only been running for a week when they started to listen!).
If you want to join our campaign, please follow the links.