A Manchester councillor says local activism will be Labour’s ‘secret weapon’ in the run-up to the general election as the party prepare to hold ‘four million conversations’.
In an interview with MM, Amina Lone, who represents Hulme Ward as a councillor, said that Labour will combat the financial power of the Conservative party by talking to as many people as possible about the changes they want to see in their communities.
Miss Lone introduced Ed Miliband at his speech in Salford on Monday, where the Labour leader made clear his ambition to hold ‘four million conversations in just four months’, nearly twice as many as the party has achieved in previous years.
She said: “It’s going to be a collective four million conversations that we will have across the country, and honestly I think our strength lies in our community campaigning and our activist base.
“It should not just be a dry conversation where you are asking people which way they vote. It should be an actual conversation that listens to and engages with people’s experiences and their life stories, and why politics matters to them.
“And it is not just on their doorsteps, but also in community meetings, residential groups and having street stalls.
“Without a shadow of a doubt, it is going to be a humongous effort to talk to four million people between now and the election, but there are so many people that I know, volunteers and activists that come out. The oldest person that comes out for me is 82 years old.”
In his speech to Greater Manchester activists, Mr Miliband said Labour knew the ‘depths of our values matter more than the depth of our opponents’ pockets’, a view supported by Miss Lone.
“I think our secret weapon is our activists. I think the Conservatives are going to pour money into it, and they have been. They have raised millions, and we know they have raised more than us,” she said.
“But that does not compensate for actual conversations with people in real situations. I do not think you can beat that.
“You can send a letter each week, and I know the Tories are looking at having a huge poster and literature campaign, but that does not beat actually speaking to somebody.”
Miss Lone also told MM that she believes that Manchester will reap the benefits of a Labour government in 2015.
She said: “Greater Manchester has massively haemorrhaged money through the cuts, and it is impacting on everybody.
“It is impacting on the politicians that have to make the decisions, and how we can set a budget that is going to protect our residence.
“I think having a Labour government means that you will be able to speak to people with the same set of values as your own. And you are not fighting against an ideological barrier, which is what it feels like with this government.
“I do not think it should be a one-size-fits-all approach. We should not say if you door knock then we are all going to win, because that’s disingenuous.
“But we should be out in the community and we should be listening, because people do not trust politicians any more, and that is a huge job to repair.”
Main images courtesy of Paul Bednall Photography and Amina Lone, with thanks