Just over a year ago I stood with Jim McMahon MP, feet away from Arooj Shah, as she gave one of the classiest speeches I have ever heard following her shock defeat in the 2022 Oldham Council elections, writes Neil Wilby.
She had lost her seat in the Chadderton South ward following a grotesque smear campaign waged against her and with it the Leadership post in which she had made such great strides during her first year in office.
Now, at the Oldham Labour Party Annual General Meeting held a short time ago (Tuesday 9th May, 2023, Cllr Shah was restored as Leader following a landslide victory in her home ward of St Mary’s at the 2023 Oldham Council elections.
Arooj, dubbed The People’s Princess’, is very obviously is delighted to be back:
“Being re-elected to lead the Borough I love is one of the biggest honours anyone could hope to have. Not for title, office or status, but for something much than all of that; to chance to change the place I was born and raised in, proudly call home, and demand better for.
“When I see working people doing everything that’s asked but still not able to get by, they and their families have a right to demand change. There is growing strain in households, and it adds to an environment where division can thrive. If politics isn’t seen a force for better, something to believe in, and something to vote for, all that’s left is the politics of division, where faced with little else voters vote against how things are, not what can be.
“I have a plan to rebuild trust, and that starts with answering this simple but fundamental question; what does it mean to live a decent, fulfilled life in Oldham?“
On being returned as Council Leader, Councillor Arooj Shah set out her priorities to a meeting of the Labour Group on Oldham Council.
Setting out four areas as building blocks which are;
– Pride matched by everyday experience.
– Hope matched by opportunity to get on.
– Passion matched by power to affect change.
– And for each and every contribution to be valued.
It means cleaning up Oldham, so that in the streets where we live, the parks where we meet, the high street where we shop in, our pride is matched by daily experience.
PLEDGE: So, the Don’t Trash Oldham Campaign I started will pick up a pace, and we will build out to not just clean Oldham, but to green it to. Planting trees, investing in parks, turning around unloved alleyways.
And to focus on the generational promise too often denied. That young people growing up in Oldham will have opportunities to grow, learn and thrive. To have hope matched by opportunity.
PLEDGE: Building on the work of the Economic Review I commissioned it’s time to put those ideas into action so that the effort invested, means a better life and as a result a better borough.
It also means the call we hear from our community must be heard, especially when people rally to demand better, not for protests sake, but to have the power to affect change.
PLEDGE: So, for all those asking for action to save our historic Oldham Coliseum Theatre in the group and beyond; I have heard your call. There is no blank cheque, nor is there a magic wand to wave and resolve all the issues with the current theatre overnight, but it does mean this; we will do all we can to save a producing theatre for future generations.
It also means we must embrace the desire for better and build out to each and every community, recognising and embracing the pride and strong identity felt by all of our towns and districts. For each and every contribution to be valued.
PLEDGE: So, because we are fiercely proud of the places where we live, local matters, and building a team for change beyond the council matters too, I will undertake a review with you as group members to reinstate District Community Councils based on the places feel connected to, not artificial boundaries. Where ward councillors are empowered and local issues, too often overlooked are acted upon.
We fail not just those we are here to serve, but the very public service we’ve dedicated ourselves too.
If politics isn’t seen a force for better, something to believe in and something to vote for, all that’s left is the politics of division, where faced with little else voters vote against how things are, not what can be.”
Cllr Shaid Mushtaq was appointed Statutory Deputy Leader and his co-Deputy is Elaine Taylor who held the same role under the previous Leadership.
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Page last updated: Tuesday 9th May, 2023 at 0945 hours
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