Mike Young is Deputy Leader of Hartlepool Borough Council, and represents Rural West ward.
I have been a councillor in Harlepool for nearly a year now, and already I’ve seen how it and other areas across the country have been going through a real mix of political waves.
In the most recent set of council elections, for those of us who were knocking on doors in classic English weather night and day, it was a decidedly sub optimal experience. I’ve been an activist for many years. I’m used to seeing local council candidates having to take the heat for goings on in Westminster. But the most recent elections in May were far worse than what we usually experience on the doorstep. It was clear that months of bickering in Westminster have been having a real impact on the ground across the country.
In my area, the Conservatives backed a joint venture with the Independent Union Party, and people were happy with the message this sent.
At the national level, we saw the party lose nearly a third of the councils that we were in control of, and you can imagine the difficulties faced by being part of the leadership in Hartlepool, where Conservatives are trying to talk up our town, focus on jobs and growing the economy.
More than a thousand hard working councillors lost their seats. These people lost their seats through no fault of their own. Since I am writing on ConservativeHome, I do not need to tell you why having a Conservative-run council is better than the alternatives. People’s council taxes are lower, litter is picked up and crucially public services run better. Losing control of 45 councils means that in 45 areas, we can bet on services that provide for residents in their everyday lives being worse not better.
Our party is in a real crisis. Morale is at a record low. Members and donors are going on strike. Long-standing activists are voting for other parties. At the recent European Elections, which should never have happened, the six week old Brexit party had a better result than many could have predicted leaving the Conservatives in fifth place. It is clear that in the upcoming leadership contest we need a Leader that can make our loyal activists proud to be a member of this party once again.
We are also at a serious crisis point for our country as a whole. We badly need a good Brexit that allows us to utilise the opportunities that voting to leave the EU presents. We need to move on and unite our country.
For me there is only one person who is capable of meeting these challenges with strength and leadership. That person is Boris Johnson.
Just look at his own record in the most important local government post in this country. As Mayor of London, he united our capital. He brought knife crime down by 17 per cent and overall crime was cut by 20 per cent. The Mayor’s share of council tax was cut by 10 per cent. He oversaw the most successful Olympic Games in living memory. For me, he is the man to bring this country back together and do what he did in London but on a larger scale for the country. Johnson also has past experience of taking on a particular brand of London marxists. The prospect of Jeremy Corbyn taking over is one that terrifies Conservatives across the country. We need to stop that happening.
We need a leader that will not just bring about a sense of identity nationally , but someone who will give the people at grassroots someone to focus on, take direction from and who we can trust to bring about the kind of Brexit voted for now over three years ago. The mood hasn’t changed in the North East. Locally, we saw a real shift to the far right that shook Labour to its core right amongst its heartland Borough wards.
Johnson for me is the person who can reach communities like mine in a way that no other Conservative can. We need an election winner that can stop Jeremy Corbyn from getting his hands on Number Ten and can make Nigel Farage surplus to requirements once again. Boris Johnson is that man. And crucially he is the only candidate who can deliver for communities like mine across the country, and keep hard-working Conservatives delivering at a local level.