On Friday morning I woke up to a world in which I was the new MP for Sheffield Heeley and that Labour was firmly in opposition for another five, long years.
To say that the feeling was bittersweet would be an understatement.
The swing to Labour across Sheffield was absolutely incredible.
In my own constituency more than 20,000 people voted for us.
Unfortunately this wasn’t replicated in the rest of the country but it was clearly reflective of the desperate need for people in Sheffield for a Labour Government.
- The one in four people living in Sheffield Heeley who don’t earn a Living Wage – who work day in, day out and can’t afford to pay their bills at the end of the week.
- The working parents who can barely afford to go to work because childcare is so expensive.
- The over 6,000 families affected by the bedroom tax in Sheffield.
- The young people who either can’t find work or are struggling on minimum wage and zero hours – not knowing from one week to the next whether they’ll be able to pay their bills, least of all afford a deposit for a house.
As I prepare to take my seat in the House of Commons it is with deep regret for every single one of those people who I looked in the eye and promised to abolish exploitative zero hours contracts, the bedroom tax, to raise the Minimum Wage and to drastically improve childcare.
It is with a heavy heart that I prepare for five years in opposition but a fresh determination to protect those who have suffered at the hands of this Government, to stand up to the cuts to our public services and the removal of welfare for the vulnerable.
Sheffield and the country need a strong Labour Party but even more than that we need a strong coalition of opposition to austerity .
So here’s my plea to every other political party, charity and campaign group.
If you want to help end the devastation to our communities put aside any differences we might share in our own policies and focus on who is inflicting violence on the people we are here to represent.
Let’s build a coalition that stands together against what is to come from this government – the pursuit of reducing the deficit disguised as an ideological attack on the state.
I will stand and fight with you.