Labour’s campaign chief is overseeing the party’s efforts to win back the Doncaster mayoral seat and avoid a potentially embarrassing second consecutive defeat in leader Ed Miliband’s political backyard.
Tom Watson is hoping party activists in the town will embrace the “community organising” approach to campaigning inspired by Barack Obama’s presidential campaign as Labour looks to take back the mayoralty.
Historically a bastion of Labour support, Doncaster elected Peter Davies of the English Democrats as its mayor four years ago, although the council remains overwhelmingly Labour.
Speaking on a visit to Doncaster, Mr Watson, deputy chairman of the Labour Party, said: “I think it’s very important that people feel confident that Labour is changing.
“We obviously had our second worst General Election defeat only two years ago and I think the result here prior to that was a reflection of people’s disenchantment with the way the Government was going.
“Our electoral fortunes have significantly turned around in some key by-elections but, having done this job for 12 months and been in politics for 12 years, you can’t take anything for granted.”
Mr Watson looked to play down the significance of the election taking place in Mr Miliband’s constituency, insisting the party wanted “all mayors to be Labour”.
“The history of mayoral elections is chequered and you do get these kind of unusual candidates coming through in these elections but I would hope the Labour candidate is of sufficient strength she is going to convince people she is going to do a good job for them,” he said.
Coun Ros Jones is Labour’s candidate to fight the mayoral election in May.