Emily Hesse

Nov 4, 2016

8 min read

Working Mum of Four Living on Tax Credits and Free School Meals Seeks Labour Candidacy for Tees Valley Metro Mayor

(or Thanks For Nothing Maggie T.)

It was 1987 when she came for a walk up our way. I was seven years old. I don’t remember anything about her visit really, other than seeing her on the telly. She looked so together, she had a nice handbag, personally it wasn’t my kind of get up but damn how did her hair not move? It was always a bit blowy down there. That was some iron hairspray that iron lady had on her.

Give me a chance, ok let me explain…

We didn’t do politics in my house. I still have no idea what my Father’s political persuasion was. My Mum hasn’t ever voted (worth pointing out my Mum joined the Labour Party earlier this year, she is 65, sorry Mum!) I never told anyone I looked up to Maggie, but no one ever told me looking up to Maggie was wrong. Who else exactly were we supposed to look up to as girls growing up in the 1980s? She was the first and is the only elected female British Prime Minister to date. The highest level of British office. And this was the woman who cut the heart out of my beloved Teesside, served it to us cold and forced us to eat our pride and swallow our identity.

Labour Education not Segregation Campaign October 2016. Canvassing with my son.
An image from my exhibition “The Post-Brexit Paradox” which you can currently see at Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art.

A few months back, just after we voted to leave the EU actually, I went onto the Conservative party website shop (for research purposes). To my horror, I discovered a babygro with the words “Iron Baby” written on it. It came in pink and blue. Now please know that I respect personal choice. I’m in the Labour party and proud of that but I didn’t expect my kids to wear “Jez We Can” t-shirts. Maggie T. had taken our iron along with our steel and it had become a slogan. A slogan that ridiculed and mocked us as Teesside, Tees Valley, the North East. That was the moment I decided my life of community advocacy needed amping up a bit. Enough was enough: I had to run.

My slogan: Reclaim the Wilderness.

I’m doing this because I believe this is the job for me. I’m doing this because I believe and have faith in our great communities. I’m doing this to prove democracy still exists. I’m doing this because I believe even a girl from the Boro can. I intend to build my political platform, if elected, with the people (friends, neighbours, you, I mean you). We need a long term community and political strategy for this region. Not because it sounds like what politicians say but because I believe in moving away from consultation to collaboration. I believe in the 1 to 1 scale. The creation of an autonomous infrastructure. I look forward to being able to hold a community conference, bringing together party member and non party member, employed and unemployed, small business owner, working mums, community groups, refugees, single dads, union representatives, teachers, everyone to develop that platform. I’m doing this because I believe in the Tees Valley. I’m doing this because it’s not about being a woman, it’s about being the right woman.

We are reclaiming our wilderness Maggie.

The old Town Hall and Transporter Bridge, Middlesbrough.
Community coffee morning — Eritrean style. Making coffee the slow way.

Is an Artist.

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