As the clock ticks down to General Election Day on June 8, the Peterborough Telegraph asked the candidates standing in the Peterborough constituency to explain in 400 words or less their policies on Brexit/the economy, the NHS and education if elected.
Britain is leaving the European Union. But what kind of Brexit will it be?
Labour’s top priority is to protect jobs and the economy, and for good reason. Without work, it’s difficult to build a life, let alone pay the bills. It’s not at all clear that the Tories share this view.
When the Tories discuss immigration, they rarely acknowledge that “good immigration” exists: do we really want to stop the Greek doctor or Polish nurse coming here to work in our NHS? Do we want to deter foreign students from studying here and paying tuition fees which bolster our universities? Our policies should be driven by common sense, not dogma.
The Tory economic record is dismal. Employment patterns have shifted towards zero hour contracts, uncertain self-employment and reduced workers’ rights. Wages are stagnant; nurses are being forced to use food banks. The Tories’ recent abandonment of the triple lock threatens to push our pensioners into poverty.
Also, the national debt is now nearly £2 trillion: that’s more than £30,700 for every individual in the United Kingdom. This figure has nearly doubled since the Tory led government took power in 2010.
Labour will enhance workers’ rights, increase the minimum wage and restore good stewardship.
The 2015 collapse of the £800 million UnitingCare Partnership contract shows that Tory management of the NHS simply isn’t working. The service has been subject to costly restructuring which has made its availability more precarious; Peterborough City Hospital has suffered from acute bed shortages. The involvement of companies like Serco in providing services for the NHS indicate it is being slowly privatised. Labour remains committed to a publicly owned NHS which is free at the point of use: we created it, we will save it.
Peterborough’s schools need support: our recent test results are simply unacceptable. However, rather than address schools’ fundamental problems by providing adequate resources and ensuring that our children get the free school meals they need, the Government is focused on expensive experiments in elitism like “free” schools. Labour will make sure that schools’ real priorities and needs are met.
Furthermore, university tuition fees continue to rise, making it more difficult for our young people to get the skills they need to be successful. Competitor nations like Germany have made their universities tuition-free. Labour believes we need to do the same.
Fiona Radic (Green party)
The Green Party will create an economy for everyone. Hunger and homelessness are inexcusable in Peterborough.
We need a universal basic income as the future is likely to offer fewer paid jobs and shorter working weeks.
If better off older folk gave away the Winter Fuel Allowance they felt they didn’t need, shouldn’t people enjoying higher incomes also pay more in income tax: still the fairest form of personal taxation?
The Green Party will use the Robin Hood Tax to fund public services.
Green MPs will inject cash into the NHS to fill the funding gap. The stresses imposed on overstretched NHS staff are noticed by patients in Peterborough. Cuts to services and delays to treatment let down staff, patients, families and the wider economy.
Green MPs will roll back privatisation, ensuring that public money funds services and that the stealthy invasion by private companies into the NHS is halted.
Green MPs will put mental health on a par with physical health, ensuring that the two are given equal priority.
A Green government will plug the education spending deficit now heading towards £7 billion. These cuts are causing unmanageable class sizes (18,000 children now study in classes with 36 or more pupils), the loss of teacher posts (two on average per primary, six per secondary school) and morale and they are severely limiting subject choices in Peterborough.
Green MPs will abolish SATs and free teachers to teach again.
We will bring academies back under local authority control.
The Green Party has committed to abolishing tuition fees and will restore the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) and maintenance grants for undergraduates. We will also guarantee apprenticeships to all qualified young people aged 16-25.
Green MPs will also match EU funding for higher education if we leave the EU.
But crucially, a Green Party government will offer voters a chance to reject or ratify the fully negotiated deal for Britain’s departure from the EU. Neither side should fear a “Ratification Referendum.” After all, why would anyone accept Theresa’s sealed-in-a-box-Brexit which Del Boy would be proud of?
Meanwhile Greens are actively fighting to protect freedom of movement, and safeguard vital rights for people and the environment.
If elected we’d guarantee the rights of EU citizens to remain in the UK (a major concern to employers and residents in Peterborough) and we’d seek reciprocal arrangements for UK citizens in the EU.
It’s an election which is principally about Brexit – something supported by Peterborough voters and something I campaigned for consistently since 2005.
Only a strong and stable government led by Theresa May will be tough enough to get the best deal for the UK as we leave the European Union. Does anyone really believe that Jeremy Corbyn, a man who three-quarters of his own MPs wanted to dump as party leader, would in any way be up to the job of Prime Minister? Brexit allows us to finish the job of reinventing the UK as a sovereign, independent, self-governing, global trading democracy and Theresa May is rightly trusted to deliver the goods in tough negotiations. Labour are distrusted on almost all policy areas and particularly on defending the security of our country.
The Conservative programme for government addresses some of the underlying reasons for the discontent in Peterborough and beyond which led to Brexit: more affordable housing, capping rip off energy bills, checking excessive executive pay, protecting proper rights at work, the gender pay gap and a higher National Living Wage. More money for school budgets and the NHS and tougher immigration rules. We’ve pledged to tackle intergenerational fairness whilst protecting pensions with a double lock and focusing help on those most in need whilst also reforming social care so that it doesn’t end up bankrupting the UK, as our country ages.
A Conservative Government will secure our growing economy. You can’t have great public services if you crash the economy. Labour remains committed to more borrowing, debt, waste and reckless spending and is led by a man with dubious past associations and the most extreme left wing manifesto in British history, putting at threat your savings, mortgages, businesses and pensions and jobs.
By contrast we’ve seen a jobs miracle in Peterborough: unemployment down 60 per cent, youth worklessness falling 71 per cent since 2010 and one of the fastest growth jobs rates in England and taxes cut for 60,000 people in the Peterborough constituency. A vote for the Labour candidate is a vote for Jeremy Corbyn, with instability, chaos and weakness, but a vote for me will be a vote which strengthens Theresa May’s negotiating position on Brexit and secures our economy and Peterborough’s future prospects.
On Peterborough doorsteps both Conservative and Labour supporters tell me the Government’s extreme Brexit plan is putting jobs and opportunities at risk.
Campaigning for Remain outside the Town Hall last summer, I asked people voting Leave “Why?” No-one wanted to harm the economy and make our children poorer.
This election is about people (and money) so we can afford proper funding for the NHS, education etc.
Just talking about leaving the common market is costing us. Local businesses are delaying investment in innovation and people: they expect to pay extra costs (and suffer extra red tape) when they buy goods and services or need staff from EU countries. As an engineer, I know Peterborough industry and retailers already trade around the world: we don’t need Brexit to free up suppliers or markets. Mrs May has chosen now for the election because the economy is starting to slide as companies decide to invest outside Britain - so they can stay in the EU, our biggest trading partner – and because British prices are starting to rise.
But we can take back control of Theresa May’s UKIP-style Brexit.
I love living in our diverse city, benefiting from the wealth of different people in our community; I’m proud of our history of welcoming refugees as well as surgeons. Lib Dems know most people want joined-up health and social care: our 1p income tax increase would raise £6 billion to start funding our NHS properly.
In government, we introduced fairness for mental health and stimulated green industries to prevent damaging air quality levels. So we’ll reverse Conservative cuts, reinstating universal credit, abolishing the bedroom tax and restoring benefits for 18-24 year-olds.
Lib Dems will increase education spending, especially in early years, extending the free school lunches we introduced, by reversing recent Conservative tax benefits for corporations and the super rich.
Crucially, we need a culture that values our healthcare professionals and teachers properly, so we will abolish the 1 per cent limit on public sector pay and reform Ofsted to cut unnecessary workloads.
Our Conservative MP has joined up with UKIP for the most extreme Brexit. Labour is in disarray. We need a clear, well-informed fighter to keep us in the single market. Every vote for Liberal Democrats is a positive vote against extreme Brexit. Vote for me for the chance to stay in Europe if we don’t like the deal Mrs May gets.