My regular LS26 Local column – December general election

As always, December is a great issue of LS26 Local newszine which is full of pieces about the local area and free at local outlets. I’ve enjoyed writing a regular column since it first started in July 2018. I usually like to write about local issues and not too directly about politics, but for December I of course wrote about the general election as it’s such a huge decision which will impact massively on the whole LS26 area.

All the issues including this one and all the back issues can be read online here https://issuu.com/ls26local.

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Image may contain: David Nagle and Karen Bruce, people smiling

A bleak dark freezing day in December will see the first general election in December for almost 100 years. If people don’t vote for change though the outlook will be still bleaker!

Over the years people have often commented about politicians, saying “they are all the same!” That couldn’t be further from the truth in the current climate though, the differences between the parties is vast. The reality is that we end up with a Conservative led government or a Labour led government.

We saw in 2010 that the Lib Dems , including their current leader Jo Swinson were happy to join with the Conservatives in government and abandon their pledges including their broken promise on tuition fees and many young people have suffered through this over the last two decades, and will be paying back tuition fees for decades – they will not forget this in a hurry! Labour will scrap tuition fees for our young people.

The Lib Dems enabled Conservative cuts to disability payments which has seen vulnerable local people going through unnecessary stress. I had people coming to see me at my councillor’s surgeries in tears. I supported several cases and was pleased that some decisions were overturned but it’s been heartbreaking to hear in the news about cases of attempted suicide by disability benefit claimants over “fit for work” assessments where it has been too much for some people and the number of those in this situation attempting suicide has tragically doubled.

Neither should people forget that the Lib Dems enabled Conservative austerity which has seen council’s cut to the bone and Leeds has had funding from government cut in half, police officers massively cut by more than 21,000 in times when we need our police more than ever! We’ve seen the cancellation of school building programmes and we can see the impact locally. Our great new school buildings programme under the Labour government saw state of the art new scgphools built like Rodillian and Rothwell Primary but then saw an abrupt stop with no new buildings over the last decade since Conservatives and Liberal Democrat’s put a stop to it. Local children including Royds are suffering with old buildings which are no longer fit for purpose. We desperately need a new Royds school building, the children deserve it!  School funding was cut in the last decade by £7billion.

A decade of austerity has in my opinion changed Britain for the worse, there shouldn’t have been an explosion of food banks in one of the wealthiest countries. This country isn’t looking after its people any more. Britain’s biggest food bank network now has 425 food banks. I never thought I’d see places like Rothwell needing it’s own food bank. I helped to set up the food bank in Rothwell originally at Temple Lawn, John O’ Gaunts ,as locally people were starting to notice the need. The Rothwell food bank is now based at Rothwell fire station. It’s an absolute disgrace that some who are forced to use food banks are the working poor. With many not having proper guaranteed living wages and housing costs out of control. Is this really the mark of a government we want to see continue? We need a Labour government that will start working towards a future where we won’t need any food banks.

Over 15,000 NHS beds have been cut, hospitals are crumbling and the NHS is chronically short of nurses and family doctors. Labour has a 10 point plan to save the NHS and has pledged a £26bn yearly injection which would be funded by reversing corporation tax cuts and taxing the very richest more. Labour will ensure the NHS is protected from a post Brexit trade deal with Donald Trump.

I urge people to remember this election is not just about Brexit, if we have five more years of a Conservative government how much more suffering will local people have to endure?

The Labour position on Brexit is the only moderate position, one which has a chance of bringing people together. It takes into account those who support Brexit and those who support remain. It will give a choice in a referendum of a Labour negotiated Brexit deal with protections built in for working people and remaining in the EU. The Conservative policy takes no account of people who voted to remain and the Liberal Democrat position of remaining by revoking article 50 without even holding another referendum ignores those who voted to leave. Only Labour is even trying to bring this country that is split down the middle together by trying to listen to everyone.

However you might decide to vote I urge you to vote. Staying at home isn’t a protest, it says you’re happy with how things are. The parties aren’t all the same and if you look at the policies of the different parties you may find you like some of what one of them says. We can’t change things if we don’t vote. People have died for our right to vote, women and working class men had to fight to get a vote, so please use it.

David Nagle is Elmet and Rothwell Labour Party’s parliamentary candidate in the forthcoming general election. David and I have worked very closely together as Rothwell councillors and I know he is one of the nicest and most genuine people you could hope to meet. He is also a tirelessly hard worker for the party and the community.