Party leaders tend to tour the seats which may change hands – to give what could be a decisive boost to the result. But as Labour were around 20 points behind in the polls at that time, and we faced a solid Conservative majority to overturn, I knew High Peak would not be high on any lists.
I had to inform supporters of this reality but felt I was safe in adding, “but if we win, I’ll make sure he comes to High Peak”.
Contrary to most people’s expectations (including my own), I had to fulfil that pledge. The first time I met Jeremy Corbyn in Parliament and told him my constituency, his reaction was “I love High Peak, please can I come and visit?”
It took a while to firm up arrangements but given the hundreds of people who turned to hear Jeremy speak and who gave him such a rapturous welcome in Hayfield, in the heart of rural England, it was worth the wait.
In an era of fake news, media manipulation and soundbites, it is important to be able to look a politician in the eye, to hear their arguments and get an understanding of them as a person.
Many people’s opinion of Jeremy Corbyn had been formed from personal attacks on him in the media, much of which is based on incorrect information.
So I suggested to those who made derogatory comments on social media that they just come along and make up their mind about Jeremy based on seeing and hearing him in person.
From meeting and speaking with him, it is impossible to deny that Jeremy Corbyn is sincere, very interested in the people he meets and that he is genuine and caring. Even members of other parties who I spoke with afterwards, said they were impressed.
He spoke of a fairer society, with better support for our NHS, for public transport – especially rural buses – and for education, to improve the life chances of young people and help us to build a more prosperous country and reduce inequality.
Funded by returning our rock-bottom corporation tax for the largest companies to an average level, ditching tax loopholes, and slightly raising taxes for the richest 5% of people whose contribution has been reduced under the Conservatives.
Far from being radical, it’s a sensible, long-term strategy that was adopted by many countries after the global financial crash and has seen them fare much better than Britain in productivity, growth and wages.