When I became chair of the CLP in January last year, stepping into Ed Mayne’s massive shoes, I could never have imagined that I would preside over a whole new virtual way of meeting and organising. The shift to online meetings has been tough for many of us, not just technologically but socially, depriving us of the element that brings us all together, preventing us from putting any political disagreements aside over a pint in the pub. But we are making the best fist of it we can and I am hopeful that with the vaccines swiftly being rolled out – one of the few things the government has got right in the pandemic – we will all be able to meet again soon.
Once again, I want to thank every member of the CLP who have been volunteering with foodbanks across the borough to help those hit hardest by the crisis. Again, I want to thank our volunteers who rang round all our members over the age of 70 to see if they needed any support or assistance. And I want to thank our members who signed up with Mutual Aid to deliver food and prescriptions to vulnerable residents who were forced to shield.
I also want to thank Hannah Stevens and Kyrill Potapov for their work organising Labour in the Community events. These have gained interest beyond Hounslow and are now being shared with other CLPs in the South West London region. The first events, which I was pleased to chair, were highly engaging and I’m looking forward to seeing more.
Alongside these, we organised two all member meetings with guest speakers this year. The first, which was organised by Peter Burgess and Rowan Fortune and supported by the Socialist Education Association, was an excellent education event with Ken Jones, senior policy officer of the NEU. The second served as a launch event for our fantastic GLA candidate Candice Atterton and focussed on COVID recovery locally and nationally. To give the national picture, we were lucky enough to be joined by Rachel Reeves, MP for Leeds and (ironically much I’m sure to the chagrin of any remaining Yorkist survivors of the War of the Roses) Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. I’m very grateful to Ruth Cadbury for pulling the strings necessary to make that happen.
With this event behind us, we now move full pelt into the campaign for the mayoral and GLA elections. Up until now we have had to resort to phone banking, which has been tirelessly led by our brilliant organiser Conor Hill. But I’m encouraged that we will soon be able to get back on the doorstep from a safe distance.
We could not have got through such a tumultuous year without the work of every one of our members and officers, not least those leading our branches. I want to give my special thanks to Dewi John and Judy Atkinson as the outgoing chairs of Isleworth & Brentford BLP and Chiswick BLP for all the hours they have put in over the years. The same goes for our treasurer Dave McLoughlin, who isn’t going anywhere. But without his steady hand at the tiller and constant reminders about paperwork I need to sign, we would lack the funds to go anywhere.
Last, but not least, my greatest thanks must go to our outgoing secretary and former chair, and my predecessor as councillor for Isleworth, Ed Mayne, who is sadly departing us for Birmingham. Our loss is their gain. Ed has served our party diligently for many years, helping to lead us to increasing local electoral gains, and I would not be chair of this CLP or councillor for Isleworth if it had not been for his support, guidance and friendship.
I look forward to seeing you all on the campaign trail to ensure Sadiq Khan remains mayor and Candice represents us on the GLA. We’ve a lot of work ahead of us. But we are Labour. Work is our name.
Cllr Salman Shaheen,
Chair, Brentford & Isleworth CLP