This election is about Vision & Values. Who are we as a people, what kind of future we want for our children.
Some say it’s the Brexit election. But it’s also the climate change election, the NHS election, The how do we heal the nation and restore trust in our democracy election.
I was a lecturer in Constitutional Law and Politics. I’ve been active in every General Election since 1974. None have been quite like this. And no constituency has been quite like this. Deprived of a proper choice, a voice for 14 years. There are people in their thirties for whom this is the first real General Election they have had ever had.
As I tour this constituency talking to people I am struck by several things:
- Nobody trusts or respects politicians or political Parties
- Brexit may frame the debate, but people have bigger more pressing concerns about their daily lives and their childrens futures
- The complexity of the issues means people’s traditional Party affiliations are changing
- A sense that more of the same is not the answer to our problems
Normally it is the Labour Party which is criticised for being the tax and spend Party. Now everyone is a tax, borrow and spend Party. But do you believe any of these promises will be delivered?
I get a real sense from talking to people that voters are less bothered with pledges they don’t believe will be honoured, but are more concerned to start restoring integrity into political discourse.
They want an MP they can trust. Someone who will represent them and their concerns. Not someone who will make vacuous promises to get your vote and then head off to build their own career in Westminster.
I hear how highly regarded John Bercow was as a constituency MP. And that you do not want to lose this.
I pledge to you all today, that I will not seek Ministerial office. My time as your MP will be dedicated to representing you and holding the Government to account. And that includes a Jeremy Corbyn Government. I will hold Jeremy to account in the same way he held Tony Blair and every other Prime Minister to account.
Restoring public trust and confidence in politics starts with selecting the right person to represent you and your constituency.
Let’s be clear, Brexit will be a disaster for our country. Whoever wins this seat, Stephen and I will be standing shoulder to shoulder in any referendum, campaigning to Remain.
We all want Brexit over and done with. Quickly. If the Tories deliver a Withdrawal Agreement, that is not the end of Brexit, just the beginning. Ten or more years of economic uncertainty and social disruption as the details of our future relationship are hammered out.
The Labour Party is the only Party which offers a speedy resolution of the impasse, in a way that starts to heal our nation and end division. Let the People decide. Regardless of the outcome, at least we will all know the nation has chosen its future path, not a cabal of MPs holding the Government to ransom.
For me, Brexit is the wrong answer to a fundamental issue on which we all agree – our country, our society no longer works for most of us.
When I was young, my education was paid for, helping me a get a better paid job, so I could buy my own home, and a pension to look after me when I was old. It’s a great deal, a great social contract, which so many people have benefitted from. But now I look at my children and their generation.
They have huge debt after college, no guarantee of well-paid work, many jobs are zero hours minimum wage, they can’t afford their own homes, and no provision is being made for their old age. Which bit of that ‘social contract’ would you buy into?
Our society no longer works for our people. The other Parties tinker at the edges, but we all know deep down, that’s no longer enough.
Take climate change. We all know that if we don’t take urgent steps, we won’t have a planet to live on. Policies on health, welfare, schools, police will all be meaningless unless we change our attitude and behaviours. In Buckinghamshire, at county, district and parish council levels, we have unanimously declared a climate change emergency!
We accept that taking action to protect the environment, to work with nature, will require different ways of thinking and behaving. And that extends to how we invest in infrastructure and jobs. Economic growth cannot be at the expense of our environment. We need to find new ways to plan longer-term for energy provision, care for our elderly, share the resources of the planet and our economy, so that everyone feels included in our community and can make their contribution for everyone’s benefit.
That’s why a Labour Government would SCRAP the Oxford/Cambridge Expressway. It is economics at the expense of the environment. We don’t need a million developer-led homes cementing over our countryside. We need homes our young people can afford.
Let me repeat that. Voting Labour is the only way to CANCEL the Expressway – no ifs, no buts, no “reviews”.
The Expressway is also an example of why politics and politicians are so distrusted. Local people have not been involved in decisions made far removed from them and their lives. Part of our vision for the future is a reshaping of our democracy, to devolve more decision-making to communities. To start rebuilding confidence and trust in our democracy.
Brexit has created a “1945” moment. Time when we must make bold decisions about our future. There were howls of protest then, from the Tories and media at the very idea of a national health service and welfare state. The end of the world was nigh. Yet these institutions have become the cherished bedrock of our society.
Change is unsettling. But real change is needed.
This is the most important General Election in 70 years. We are in profound crisis.
I sincerely believe the 2016 referendum was a vote of protest and despair. This General Election is a chance to vote for hope, healing and ambition.
Our society is not working for us, and it won’t work for our children. Tinkering with the system isn’t sustainable.
I am not asking you to make up your mind tonight. I am asking you take the next three weeks to consider what sort of politician you want to represent you, and what values you want represented.
Our parents & grandparents were brave in 1945 to set out a new world, a world of peace and prosperity for all. The systems they created have worked well for 70 years, but no longer! We have to make brave decisions to create a world that’s fit for our children, based on fairness and justice for all.
As you listen to the General Election debate, nationally and locally, I simply ask you to consider two things:
- How do we restore confidence in our political and democratic institutions – which starts with the character and integrity of the MP you select
- And how do we start addressing the climate and social changes our children face – do we continue to tinker with the old ways of doing things, or do we equip them with new ways to deal with the challenges they face after we older ones have passed on
After 14 years without a real vote, I am so impressed with how people here realise the importance of having a vote, a choice.
Please don’t just vote AGAINST something. That just keeps us in this downward spiral of despair.
As our forebears did in 1945, vote positively FOR something.
FOR a renewal of our democracy.
FOR a future for our children that’s fit for the 21st Century.
The next hustings will take place in Buckingham on Wednesday the 27 of November from 7.00-8.30pm (doors open 6.00pm). It will take place at the Vinson Building at Buckingham University, Hunter Street MK18 1EG ]