We do things differently in Midlothian. 

Six months ago I was selected as Midlothian’s Scottish Labour and Co-operative candidate and since then we’ve been trying out a number of innovations.

Thanks to our proximity to Edinburgh we’ve had a steady stream of folk coming here for the festival and we’ve been lucky to be joined by everyone from Harriet Harman to Chris Bryant for a new campaign feature called “Knock and Talk”. Providing the chance for members to ask Labour legends whatever they want in between doors has been inspiring for activists, especially those who are too young to remember just what Labour governments deliver. If you’re a Labour elected representative coming to Scotland at any point just let us know – our members would love to knock and talk with you.

Here is my most important bit of advice though: don’t say your most recent guest is your favourite unless you want your next guest (in my case former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith) to call you a cheeky cow on her much-loved podcast. Lesson learned. I do, of course, love all our Knock and Talk guests equally. Jacqui also gets extra points for joining us afterwards in the Dean Tavern – a local example of the “goth pub” phenomenon. No, it’s not what you think. Goth pubs were designed to develop self-responsibility and plough profits back into the local community. While not technically co-ops, these are our kind of places – do come and visit.

Our second big innovation has enabled all the others. Labour Launchpad is a pioneering paid internship done in partnership between Midlothian Labour and the Co-operative Party. Co-op values inspire our commitment to political education. Over eight online sessions ‘launchpadders’ and local members explored topics including how policy is really made (with our own General Secretary Joe Fortune) and what we can learn from Biden’s first term with Catherine Tarsney Kahle, Deputy Chief Technology Officer at the Democratic National Committee. 

Over the summer our four launchpadders have spoken to thousands of local people. Thanks to our friends at Campaign Lab we’ve got the experimentation bug, looking at everything from whether it matters whether volunteers say ‘I’, ‘we’ or ‘Kirsty’ would love to stay in touch (spoiler: it does!) to the impact of wearing stickers on the accuracy of the data. We regularly share what we find with other candidates and CLPs, many of whom are now looking into their own version of the Launchpad programme.

Midlothian’s industrial heritage means many of the past successes of the labour movement were made in Midlothian. We hope our innovations mean we’ll be able to say the same in future too.