I joined the Labour Party in the aftermath of the 1987 General Election, just as I started as an undergraduate student at the LSE. What drove me then, and still drives me today, are three things.
First, that societies based on equality for all are better than those that are not, and that the pursuit of equality cannot be passive, but means constant effort to overcome inequality.
Second, that the broad-church tradition of the Labour Party and the Co-operative movement is the best way of achieving that first objective; we will always achieve more together than separately.
And third, that without Labour being in positions of power nationally and locally we don’t just lose forward progress to a better and more equal society, we go backwards.
I made my home in this city in 1991 and was first elected as a councillor in 1994. Working with the Labour Party here, knocking on doors, listening to and representing my constituents on one of the city’s largest council estates made me all too aware of what is often hidden by the tourist postcard views of the dreaming spires.
Problems like the yawning gap in life expectancy between the richest and poorest parts of Oxford, the desperate shortage of secure and affordable homes for young families, levels of traffic and air pollution that damage the health of all.
These are all things where Labour-run Oxford City Council has taken action, and needs to continue to take action, something that means being prepared to stand up for difficult decisions.
It is no good saying that you are appalled by rough sleeping if you not prepared to support the building of new genuinely affordable homes. That’s why I have consistently argued in favour of new housing in and around this city even on Green Belt land if necessary, and will continue to do so.
It’s no good saying that pollution is too high if you are not prepared to support measures to cut the car traffic that causes it. That’s why I took the lead on pedestrianising streets in the city centre, and why I support the radical measures in the Connecting Oxford proposals to cut car traffic right across the city.
It’s no good saying that the gap between rich and poor is shocking, if you are not prepared to promote the Oxford Living Wage, better job security and more rights for tenants, and the life-long investment in support and education that will close that gap rather than allow it to open further.
Those then are my priorities if I am elected: a relentless campaign for more homes that are secure, decent and affordable for all; radical measures to cut traffic and prioritise public transport, cycling and pedestrians; and support for policies that close the gaps between the richest and poorest, and make our city one that can be proud that its citizens are equal.
Alex is standing as the Labour & Co-operative City Council Candidate for Carfax & Jericho. He is currently a City Councillor for Carfax and before this was a City Councillor for Barton.
Carfax & Jericho ward includes the following colleges: Balliol, Blackfriars, Brasenose, Exeter, Jesus, Lincoln, Nuffield, Regent’s Park, St Benet’s Hall, St Cross, St John’s, St Peter’s, Trinity and Worcester.