|Monday, 09 May 2005 10:08|
I have been inundated with messages on my phone
and inbox from residents and friends in Tooting over the last few days. My
intention is to try and respond to all these messages but I may have to acccept
the reality that this will not be possible in all cases.
I feel truly humbled by the warmth and best wishes conveyed to me and I hope to repay this by serving as a conscientious Member of Parliament for Tooting.
I am setting out below an extract of what I said in the early hours of Friday morning at the town hall, after the count.
"I'd like to thank the returning officer Mr Jones and the hundreds of council staff and police officers who have made today pass so effortlessly. I particularly want to say thank you to the tons of staff who have returned the result for Tooting so quickly.
I'd also like to thank my 6 opponents who deserve credit for the contest in Tooting being to a large extent clean and honest.
I particularly want to mention James Bethell and the Tooting Conservatives and Stephanie Dearden and the Tooting Liberal Democrats. Both James and Stephanie were selected to be candidates more than a year ago and the three of us have got on remarkably well. I am sure James and Stephanie are responsible for the contest in Tooting being so positive.
I stand here with feelings of humility, pride and a sense of resonsibility.
My father passed away quite recently. He came to Tooting 40 years ago and stayed here. He would have been really proud that his friends, neighbours and community have elected one of his children to be the Labour Member of Parliament for Tooting and it is an honour to be elected by my community as the Labour Member of Parliament.
Tooting is a fantastic place and it has got even better over the last 8 years due to this Labour government. During the campaign we met families on doorsteps and visited pensioners and saw for ourselves what a real positive difference this Labour government had made. However I'll be the first to accept that there are pockets in our community where progress has not been as fast. My pledge is to ensure that a third term Labour government builds on the progress already made to ensure that all parts of Tooting see the benefits of a Labour government.
Finally I am going to ask your indulgence to say a few "thank you"s.
First to my wife Saadiya. I've been a candidate now for 14 months and the fact that we are still talking is a tribute mainly to her.
People often don't realise that we are a voluntary party. People give up their time and make huge sacrifices due to shared values. It simply is not possible to thank everyone who has helped but I do want to single out a few.
I want to say thank you to my agent Nigel Bolt who has been a huge source of strength and as cool as a cucumber. He has been helped by three stars - Cathy Harvey, David Bellamy and Alex - who were the brains behind our local campaign.
Team Tooting have become dear friends over the last few months. They have had to endure dog bites, trouble with their bosses, domestic strife, cancelled holidays, taking leave without pay and much more. They have stuffed envelopes, delivered door to door, canvassed face to face and on the telephone. I am grateful to all of them as I am sure are the residents of Tooting. They will all go to socialist heaven!
Finally, politicians often get a bad press. This is terribly unfair. In fact the only people who get a worse press are lawyers - I should know! Most politicians are motivated by a desire to serve their community, to make our society and our country a better place. This hall is full of councillors, MPs and candidates who are motivated by a wish to serve their community. I am proud and privileged at the prospect of being the Labour Member of Parliament for Tooting. I cannot promise that I'll be perfect. I am promising that I will do my best. Tooting deserves no less."
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