Broxtowe Labour spoke with our Parliamentary Candidate Greg Marshall about why he wants to represent his constituency in the House of Commons
BL: Hello Greg, why ‘From Broxtowe, For Broxtowe’?
GM: The phrase encapsulates why I want to represent this constituency – it is the place I have always called home. I grew up in Broxtowe and still live here. I understand the problems facing the various communities that make up our great area and have only ever wanted to represent them. So when people talk about traffic problems at Nuthall roundabout, flooding in Attenborough, or bank closures in Stapleford I immediately know what they mean. This is because I am not a professional politician chasing any vacant seat in Westminster as a stepping stone to fame and a ministerial career.
A former MP once said there are two kinds of politicians: those who ask when, and those who ask why. Those who ask when are in public life for their own self-advancement and are obsessed with knowing if they will be promoted up the greasy pole. The people they supposedly represent are of little importance if they are even given a second thought. There is, however, another kind of politician. They are the ones who will always stand up for the interests of the people they represent by asking the why questions: why are things like this, why have they been allowed to happen, and why can’t they be better? I am – and will always be – a why politician: the obsession I have is for making things the best they can be for Broxtowe.
BL: I see you are standing for Broxtowe again having been very close to winning last time. What do you remember from that campaign?
GM: Broxtowe almost went Labour in 2017 and I nearly became our MP. When Theresa May called the election, like everybody else I was completely taken by surprise. I hadn’t even been selected as candidate. It was only after being encouraged by fellow local party members, friends, neighbours and my colleagues on Broxtowe Borough Council that I put my name forward. I was honoured to be selected as our candidate but only had six weeks to talk to people about Labour’s vision for Broxtowe.
Despite not having any full-time campaign staff or wealthy donors I was incredibly fortunate to have a fantastic volunteer led team which still managed to achieve the party’s second highest vote in the constituency’s history. We produced one of the best swings to Labour across the East Midlands. In winning 25,120 votes we narrowed the Tory majority from 4,287 to 863, making the seat one of the most marginal in the UK. I was therefore humbled when 92% of my fellow Broxtowe members subsequently selected me to be our parliamentary candidate for this election. The Constituency Labour Party’s overwhelming endorsement meant a great deal to me because there were some other very good nominees for the vacancy including a colleague who been selected for another key marginal seat elsewhere in the Midlands.
BL: Politicians often claim to be connected to their constituency- how do justify calling yourself the local choice?
GM: My sister and I were born and raised in Long Lane, Attenborough. We grew up in an ordinary working class family with longstanding roots in the area. My grandad lived on Beech Avenue in Beeston Rylands and my dad spent his working life as a draughtsman and then telecoms engineer based just up the road from home at Ericssons which later became Plessey. My mum is also a local and was born and grew up in Radford before working as a secretary in Nottingham.
I went to local state schools beginning at Meadow Lane Infants and then College House Primary (which have since joined up to become The Lanes School). After College House I went to Chilwell Comprehensive School where I was taught by my favourite teacher Graham Hartley who took us for PE. Graham had a considerable influence on me as a teenager because he was a great mentor able to get the best out of the kids in his care. He was always fun, firm but fair. One of the things that I am most proud of is returning to my old school and serving as Vice-Chair of Governors. The role means I am able to give something back to a place that helped shape us during our formative years.
I’ve been with my partner Jane for 20 years and we live in Beeston with our two daughters who have both attended the same schools that I went to. For my sins I am a supporter of Nottingham Forest, and also follow Notts County Cricket Club. You can often catch me down The Crown in Beeston trying and failing to win Horace’s quiz. I still hang around with the friends I made at school over thirty years ago. They keep me grounded and give me a clear insight into the concerns of people not involved in politics on a day to day basis but who share my deep commitment to a community they also still call home.
My friends and I have always been passionate about sport and have played together in the Notts Amateur Football League for nearly three decades – I don’t think there is a pitch in the constituency that I have not played on at some point. I was also a keen cricketer, opening the bowling for various local clubs including at Inham Nook in Chilwell.
Career wise I have been with the Environment Agency based in Lady Bay for 25 years, and currently work delivering large projects designed to improve our water environment. On a day to day basis I deal with the water industry, various public sector bodies, campaign groups, farming and agriculture, and assorted large businesses. I have been a trade unionist throughout my career and am highly active within UNISON. I’ve been a workplace steward and sit on various committees relating to our work within the environmental sector at both regional and national levels. These roles have given me considerable experience in negotiating and representing members as well as helping individual colleagues at times of particular need. For example, I have helped many people who have been bullied and harassed, and secured tens of thousands of pounds for women discriminated at work.
Apart from three years studying at Sheffield Hallam University for a degree in Environmental Engineering, and a brief spell working away, I have always lived in Broxtowe. In seeking to become a parliamentary candidate I was always clear that I only ever wanted to represent the constituency I have always known as home.
BL: Tell us something about your role in public life
GM: My extensive knowledge of the constituency has come from living round here all my life. This has stood me in good stead over the last nine years serving as a Councillor on Broxtowe Borough Council. This experience, together with standing for parliament in 2017, gives me a unique understanding of the issues that concern local people and the very real pressures they face on a day to day basis.
As a Councillor, I represent Beeston West and serve on three key Council committees- chairing Finance & Resources and sitting on Policy & Performance as well as Environment & Climate Change. I was instrumental in introducing Living Wage and trade union anti-blacklisting policies for Broxtowe employees, and for ensuring the Borough would not seek to evict tenants affected by the Bedroom Tax. I was particularly proud of the latter achievement because we were one of only a handful of local authorities to agree to this measure.
My day job means I have developed a keen interest in our environment. The recent floods demonstrate how urgently we need to take collective action to limit the damage caused by climate change. My time on the Borough Council has convinced me local authorities should be integral to the next Labour government’s plans for rebuilding Britain. Councils are, by definition, closer to the public they serve and therefore better attuned to the different needs of their area. Critically national and local government must work together to end the UK’s acute housing crisis. We desperately need to build Council owned houses and affordable homes for those currently priced out of the market but who want to stay living in and contributing to our vibrant community.
Whether or not people vote for me I have always done my utmost to represent their best interests. Regardless of their personal preferences, I hope my current constituents know they can put their trust in me to do what is best for them. I have enjoyed meeting countless numbers of residents out canvassing, campaigning and doing surgeries over the last decade. I relish the opportunity to meet many more in the future. Whether or not you have met and talked with me before my Broxtowe Labour team and I have our own community hub at 106 Chilwell Road in Beeston where you can come and meet me when I am not out and about campaigning.