Hartlepool isn’t my home town – I was born in Heywood in Lancashire, but Hartlepool is very much my adopted town and I couldn’t be prouder when I tell people where I am from.
Heywood is also called ‘Monkey Town’, so it was probably meant to be that I moved to Hartlepool at the turn of the century.
I will tell the story of the other monkey legend in a future column, but I’m as keen to tell it as Hartlepool folk of the monkey hangin’ legend.
I’ve experienced lots of emotions during the campaign, and especially on the day of the election, but it is fair to say that I’ve been overwhelmed by a sense of pride since last Thursday.
That pride peaked as the election result was announced at Mill House when I realised that the great people of the town had placed their trust in me and elected me as their MP.
I’ve had many moments of pride and pleasure in the 18 years I have lived in Hartlepool, but that was very definitely the moment for me and I don’t mind admitting that I shed a tear or two.
There was without doubt a tear for my dad, Bob, who died in February and to whom I dedicated the victory. I worked throughout this campaign thinking of him and the socialist values he instilled in me from a very young age, and I know he will be looking down on me and smiling.
The feelings of elation, happiness, pride and all the other emotions that have been scrambling my brain have been slowly turning to a feeling of duty and responsibility, and I want to take this opportunity to make one thing absolutely clear – it is my duty to represent all the people of Hartlepool, no matter how they cast their votes, and I take that responsibility very seriously indeed.
I can promise you that I will work tirelessly with conviction, honesty and integrity to represent the people of this great town, and I will bang on every door possible to get help to make it prosper.
I want to see a town where everybody benefits, I want better schools for our kids, better care for the elderly and better health provision for us all. I also want to see more employment opportunities, more school training and a workforce that is rewarded with a decent living wage for a fair day’s work.
Finally, I just want to say a massive thanks to all of the people who voted for me, but especially I would like to thank all of the people who worked so hard to support me during my campaign, to my family who allowed me to get on with what I had to do, my colleagues at work, and to all the Labour supporters who worked tirelessly knocking on doors, pushing leaflets through letterboxes, manning phones and working hard on social media. Thank you all.
The people of Hartlepool have placed their trust in me, I promise I won’t let them down.