Nancy Platts, PPC for Brighton Kemptown and Peacehaven, reports on her General Election campaign.
BRIGHTON KEMPTOWN AND PEACEHAVEN is one of the three constituencies in the Brighton and Hove area. The current Conservative MP won the seat from Labour in 2010 with a 1,328 majority, making it 25th in Labour’s 106 battleground seats.
With one in five children in Brighton Kemptown and Peacehaven living in poverty, we have proof of the total failure of the Coalition government to deliver social justice. It is Labour’s job to offer hope and a vision for the future so that people have a positive reason to vote for change.
Sadly, towards the east of the constituency we have seen some people turn to UKIP. UKIP peddles the politics of fear, blaming people from other countries for a lack of housing, secure jobs or school places. That fire power needs to be re-directed at the Tory/Lib Dem government which has given tax breaks to millionaires and under whom we have seen the rise of ‘the disposable employee’. If elected I will vote for a total ban on zero-hours contracts.
People are so disillusioned with politicians that they have opted out of the democratic process altogether and say they won’t be voting. They need to see more working class people get elected, people who have real world experience, who are not part of the existing ‘Westminster bubble.’
I hope that’s where I can be a refreshing change because I am not a career politician. I left school at 18 and went straight into work. At Breakthrough Breast Cancer, Asthma UK and Diabetes UK I worked for the patients and families who rely on the NHS. At Daycare Trust I campaigned successfully for a SureStart children’s centre in every community. Now I am fighting to save those same centres from cuts and closure, thanks to this government prioritising the needs of the rich over the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable in our society.
Our commuters are struggling with the soaring cost of rail fares. Having previously worked for a railway trade union, I firmly believe we should be bringing the railway network back into public ownership – the best way to bring down the cost of fares for the many commuters in Brighton.
After spending twelve years in the fire brigade, our fire and rescue service holds a special place in my heart. I have campaigned relentlessly with the FBU to oppose the drastic cuts to our local fire service which were voted through by Tory, Lib Dem and UKIP councillors last year. As a result, our five fire engines will be reduced to just four to cover the whole City of Brighton and Hove.
But the cuts don’t end there; healthcare workers have faced a constant battle for fair pay and secure jobs. The Health & Social Care Act has opened up the NHS to privatisation and I am proud that Labour will repeal this damaging piece of legislation. I have led a community campaign to replace a GP surgery which was planned to be closed following the retirement of its GPs. I held a public meeting, undertook a survey, organised a petition and led a delegation to ask questions of the Health and Wellbeing Board. And we won! The surgery is being replaced. This is what politics should be about – empowering the community to make sure they get the services they need and pay for through their taxes.
Children deserve high quality state education and that can only be achieved when teachers are trusted and valued. That’s why I have supported teachers and their unions in their campaigns against the Coalition’s hostility to local authority schools and teachers, and the unfair changes to teachers’ pay and conditions.
I want to see a positive change of direction. Cuts aren’t the only option. We need investment in quality, affordable childcare, to help parents back into work so the economy can grow again. When over half of children (58 per cent) who live in poverty in the UK have at least one parent in paid work, it is clear that we need to end the scourge of low pay, zero-hour contracts and insecure jobs. Many parents have lost jobs in the recession or been forced into part-time work or zero-hours contracts because full-time jobs that pay a living wage are simply not available. Children living in poverty should not be paying the price for the deficit and we need to commit to investment in jobs, economic regeneration and making work pay. I strongly support a living wage for all. But how do we find the money to tackle the deficit and deliver better public services, secure jobs and offer that hope so people want to get out and vote?
Firstly, I firmly believe that Trident should not be renewed and that the £100 billion (over 30 years) that Trident costs would be better spent improving the lives of ordinary people. And I welcome Labour’s commitment to tackle tax avoidance and the introduction of a Mansion Tax on properties worth over £2m to help pay for an NHS Time to Care Fund.
Labour will cut taxes for 24 million people on middle and lower incomes by introducing a lower 10p starting rate of tax and we will restore the 50p rate of tax for those earning over £150,000. But, above all, investment in the economy and people in jobs will generate growth that can pay down the deficit. The Coalition policy of cuts to public services, welfare and tax breaks for millionaires has failed.