While candidates for the Leadership and Deputy Leadership of the Labour Party grapple with huge and vital questions for our movement, we must not lose sight of the handful of short weeks which remain until another very important set of votes – namely the 2020 Local Elections. We troubled the postal service again by writing to all 110 Council Labour Groups who have elections in just over three months’ time.

That’s just over a dozen Saturdays for these Labour Groups and campaign teams to set their minds to winning elections once again. We have written to them providing co-operative policy and campaigning ideas and to help ensure they know how best to join the co-operative local government renaissance happening across the country.

As others have noted, this is an incredibly important test for the Labour Party going into the new era. The results of these elections will play a part in setting the tone for the incoming Labour Leader. In recent years, the Co-operative Party has been building presence and activity in local government, and we are now blessed with hundreds of fantastic committed Labour & Co-op councillors – working with this group and our members and supporters, we look forward to many weeks of campaigning ahead of May.

I remember growing up in a city (now a bastion of Labour representation at all levels) which had few Labour Councillors but almost exclusively returned Labour MPs, with voters almost completely divorcing their local and national loyalties. There will be communities who have upcoming local elections at which they will face an unfamiliar choice – whether they feel that the party they voted for to represent them in Parliament is best placed to represent them in town halls and in their local area to steward their local services.

Of course these local elections will not just focus on those communities who recently returned Parliamentarians of a different hue. It will also cover areas where voters and communities have turned away from marking a cross against Labour candidates, and whose loyalty has been tested over many years and elections.

The Co-operative Party is an ambitious organisation, and in these elections we will looking to continue to grow the numbers of Labour & Co-operative candidates and Councillors, as well as looking to grow co-operative activity in our Town Halls.

We do this each year not to hit arbitrary targets, but because we fervently believe that the trust built by co-operative minded and engaged councillors is one of the best ways of continuing to demonstrate why communities benefit from our values, principles and politics. It is this genuine engagement, voice and values which underpin our work in local government and I believe it is this work which will help rebuild trust at a local, Town Hall level with some voters we lost nationally in December.

We are proud of the work we have achieved in Local Government in recent years. I believe the issues and campaigns we have worked on represent some of the best building blocks of common decency in our communities; whether it is working to eradicate modern slavery, fighting for food justice, encouraging community land trusts or working to build safer higher streets – to name just a few. The next few weeks represent a chance for committed activists, campaigners and candidates to get involved in this work and the work which still lies ahead. Find out more here and take your first steps today.