It is a tired political statement, but political parties exist to win elections and turn values and policies into meaningful action.

But we know that change does not happen without principled people campaigning for it. And that fact is truer now than ever for the Co-operative Party, rapidly enhancing our reputation as the impactful policy and campaigning hub of the wider Labour movement.

We in the East Midlands Co-operative Party our proud of our campaigning track record, especially in my Party Council. Every election we can be found pounding the streets in Co-operative Party campaign days, knocking on doors, delivering leaflets and building momentum to get co-operators elected – whether in Gedling, Lincoln, Bassetlaw, Erewash or Nottingham.

Now, 43 days from today, we have one of the most impactful elections in recent memory.

General elections matter, of course they do, but this May we see County Councils, Mayoralties, London Boroughs, District Councils and Police and Crime Commissioners up for election – the whole country going to the polls to decide how their local communities are run.

That is why the Co-operative Party is shouting loud in the run up to this May’s elections.

Here in the East Midlands, we already have 115 confirmed Council candidates. That is a big shift from all in the region and each Party Council and will add to our already brilliant Labour & Co-operative Councillors campaigning in both Labour and Conservative held Councils on issues such as modern slavery, retail crime or food justice.

I am also proud that each and every one of our Police and Crime Commissioners standing as Labour and Co-operative. Some of those, like Nottinghamshire’s Paddy Tipping have already been delivering our values, the first police force in the country to record misogyny as a hate crime, and others, like Rosie Kirk in Lincolnshire, are challenging to put co-operative values at the heart of policing.

But we know in the East Midlands that more people standing as Labour & Co-operative is not enough, we must campaign and win for the change we want to see.

That is why tonight we are running yet another of our Co-operative Party campaign phone banks.

Candidates and activists coming together to engage with voters on the difference Labour & Co-operative elected officials will make if elected in May. We will be joined by the newest Labour & Co-operative Member of the House of Lords, Vernon Coaker, someone I have spent many-a-hour campaigning for progressive politics alongside on the streets of Gedling.

So, as lockdown hopefully begins to lift and you consider what to do over the next 43 days, think of the opportunity ahead of us.

The opportunity to elect campaigning Labour & Co-operative candidates in record numbers, to take control of Town and City Halls, Mayoralties and Police Headquarters across the county with radical co-operative policies and the opportunity to begin charting the course to a Labour & Co-operative government.

But only if we campaign for it.