YOUR VOICE

Speaking up for Canterbury, Whitstable and the Villages

MY POLITICS

I was always fascinated by politics as a child growing up in the febrile political atmosphere of the 1980s. My father was a police officer and this imbued in me a strong belief in public service, and in supporting those who look after our communities and keep us safe. I also saw how Conservative governments starved our public services of vital funds, and failed to support public sector workers.

As an adult, Labour in power changed my life. I experienced first-hand the positive difference that Labour in government can make, with a huge investment in education and health provision, sensible economic policies to protect and promote growth, and care for our people and our planet. Gordon Brown’s tax credits were a vital lifeline to me and enabled me to work and bring up my children as a single parent. Sometimes people accuse me of being a ‘Blairite’, but, if anything in Labour terms, I’m a ‘Brownite’ thanks to our fabulous ex-Chancellor and PM’s record of responsible, well-managed growth within a caring society.

The years since Labour lost power have been difficult for the country and for the Party. I became politically active locally to help to bring Labour back to government, and to challenge the austerity of the Tory-Lib Dem coalition. I also believed passionately in Britain’s place at the heart of Europe, so I fought hard with people from all parties to Remain in the EU and then to oppose Brexit.

I shared the initial enthusiasm that many had for Jeremy Corbyn and his calls for a ‘kinder, gentler politics’, but sadly the reality proved to be anything but. I was appalled by the antisemitism within a section of the Labour Party and challenged it at every opportunity. Thankfully Labour has since changed, acknowledged the mistakes of the past and moved to again reflect the priorities of the British people.

I don’t always agree with the current Party line, for example on Brexit, but I will continue to fight from within the Party for the beliefs that I and many thousands of Members, and millions of people beyond, share. That’s why I also believe in working across party lines to advance the causes and beliefs that we have in common.

MY VIEWS

Brexit and Europe

My views on Brexit are well known, but I'm happy to restate here that I think Brexit has been a disaster for our area. Precious links with our near neighbours have been damaged, affecting our universities, language schools and local businesses. The economic and environmental impacts of Brexit at our border - and the ongoing chaos on Kent's roads - are clear for all to see. It saddens me deeply that EU friends who had made their lives in Canterbury felt little choice but to leave.

Far from a confident 'Global Britain', successive Conservative government actions on Brexit have diminished Britain on the global stage and become something of an international tragicomedy. Tory recklessness is endangering peace in Northern Ireland and contributing to the fragmentation and possible breakup of the United Kingdom.

My party has often preferred to keep quiet on Brexit, but I can't. I will continue to call out its failings, to campaign for the closest possible relationship with the EU, and to champion the European cause within the Labour Party. Locally, I will work with others to ensure we strengthen relations across the channel through bilateral relationships such as twinning.

 

Electoral Reform

The Labour Party Conference voted overwhelmingly to back Proportional Representation (PR) and I fully support this. Our voting system is unfair and broken. Too many people in the UK see their votes wasted. Too many parliamentary seats and councils have become a modern version of the 'rotten borough', where one party rules unchallenged. Nationally the system favours the Conservatives, when in fact the 'progressive' share of the vote is usually higher. In Scotland the Nationalists benefit, contributing to the fragmentation of our country.

As we've seen here in Canterbury and Whitstable, the only way to beat the system is by voting tactically. So we have to use our first opportunity to change the broken system and to make tactical voting a thing of the past. I will continue to argue that Labour should change its policy to support fair votes. Everyone needs to know that their vote matters in a proportional voting system. It's time for PR.



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