It is six months since Bermondsey and Old Southwark elected its first Labour MP since 1979. Time has flown since 7th May when, despite Labour's dire national performance, locally we achieved a sensational win, increasing our votes from 13,000 in 2010 to over 22,000 this year.
Given the Lib Dem’s 8,500 former majority, many people said winning back Bermondsey was impossible, but we won by more than 4,000 votes. Our local victory provided one of the few silver linings for Labour on an otherwise sad day. I’m proud to serve the community I love and remain grateful to all the supporters who helped my campaign and to the voters who put me in Parliament.
Southwark News had a kind article on my first six months in Parliament and early successes, including managing to squeeze an amendment costing £1 million out of the Government despite being a Labour newcomer: http://www.southwarknews.co.uk/news/neil-coyle-i-was-handed-an-ipad-given-a-locker-and-told-to-get-on-with-it/
I’ve also taken on the role of Parliamentary Private Secretary to Chris Bryant MP who is Shadow Leader of the House – stepping up early to learn the parliamentary rules quicker and to try and help the frontbench score some wins over the Government. In Bermondsey, our membership was below 800 when I was selected in 2013 and reached almost 1,500 last month. Our affiliates and registered supporters give us a campaign base of about 2,000 people. I hope many more members will join us at events and on the campaign trail with important London elections next May. We need to get Sadiq Khan elected as Mayor and Florence Nosegbe for our GLA seat – which Val Shawcross is stepping down from after many years of serving local people.
In six months, I've helped almost 4,000 people through casework and surgery sessions. For some people this has ensured a roof over their head and food in their stomach, but has also included challenging Government agencies and departments on their behalf.
I've also set up a standing order to donate this year’s increase in MPs’ salary to the local foodbank. Sadly, I regularly have to refer constituents to a foodbank; one of the saddest tasks given we live at the heart of our capital city in one of the wealthiest nations on the planet.
It's been a whirlwind six months, but I hit the ground running and the pace is quickening. The new constituency office opens soon on Jamaica Road, by Bermondsey station, and my team is also growing to reflect the higher volume of people I need to help. If you’d like more information from me about the past six months please just drop me a line or give me a call. Better still, join Chris Bryant and me at the 1st December local Party dinner. Reserve your place now: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/bermondsey-old-southwark-clp-christmas-party-tickets-19490149562
Best wishes, Neil
PS: Please also consider sponsoring me to sleep out to raise funds for a homeless shelter – and to help raise awareness of the growing problem of homelessness in London: https://www.justgiving.com/Neil-CoyleMP/ - all donations gratefully received!