Our local election campaign got off to a flying start today with a visit by Tracy Brabin, Labour MP for Batley and Spen and shadow early years minister.
She said Hugo Fearnley, our candidate for Scarborough and Whitby, is absolutely the type of quality MP we need in parliament, combining intelligence with a real commitment to his community.
Batley and Spen voted 63% leave, similar to Scarborough and Whitby, but she emphasised that austerity is what created this division, but we all voted for a better life and delivering that, rebalancing the economy and improving social mobility is the Labour promise.
She talked of the shocking transport problems, people stood on the train station missing exams, hospital appointments and getting fired from their zero hour contract jobs. The bus where she lives is hourly and takes an hour and ten minutes for what is a ten minute car journey.
Labour promises education from cradle to grave, providing an educated workforce for businesses, and brickies and sparkies for our radical housebuilding programme. Instead we’ve got nurseries asking parents to take in ironing and bake cakes for sale to help pay for suncream, nappies and food, and the pernicious division of babies and toddlers sitting separately, those from families who can afford a hot meal on one table and those who can’t on another.
Eton has three theatres because those parents expect a rounded education. For the rest of us, Michael Gove’s English Baccalaureate Certificates are driving out creative subjects, even as Channel 4 moves to Leeds, bringing creative jobs. We are losing the opportunity to show empathy, and it can’t be that the joy is only over there for the moneyed. Labour is committed to theatre, music and the arts.
Robert Goodwill of course was early years minister for a short while and was Brabin’s ‘oppo’, so she knows him well. “He just votes for the government, not an individual thinker.”
The Tories are heading off a cliff and they know it, but the centre ground has shifted. We’re sick of closures and we have to call it out. When people push back with ‘communist’ or ‘IRA sympathiser’, it’s fear talking. People like us will tell the truth.
Hugo Fearnley spoke of refusing to accept that Scarborough and Whitby is the low pay capital of the UK, 2,000 people on the housing waiting list, and refusing to accept teachers begging parents for money for basic provisions.
“We are going out to listen, to understand people’s concerns and bring those forward.”
He talked about the Bernie Sanders campaign in the US where 100,000 supporters contacted 75 million people and very nearly won the presidency from a standing start. The lesson from that campaign is that people are not much moved by social media, ads, or TV so much as they are when a real person like themselves has a real conversation about what’s happening. Then, something significant happens, and the rewards could not be bigger.
The room was then split into doorknocking teams and went out into Barrowcliff to meet people (and got a great reception).