Monday, 17 June 2013:
Calder Valley Labour Party: Questions for the candidates
The HebWeb posted seven questions to the candidates shortlisted to be selected as the prospective parliamentary candidate for the Labour Party. Here is response by Jenny Lynn.
Here are my responses to your questions to Calder Valley's potential Labour candidates:
1.What steps would you encourage the Labour Party to take to revitalise the economy and urgently bring down unemployment?
With rates of overcrowding and homelessness having risen in recent years at an alarming rate, one of the first steps should be to free up local councils to use their own capital receipts – or borrow on the local authority bond market - to enable them to begin a programme of intensive house building, as one of the fastest ways to begin to restart the economy. The post war Labour government borrowed in order to build hundreds of thousands of new homes every year, with the rental income they generated being used to repay these loans. It needn't be complicated! And the construction contracts should include provision for local labour recruitment, and linked training programmes for young people.
Planning and delivering key infrastructure - from rail improvements to badly needed new school buildings - results in much needed investment in future assets for the country, at the same time as providing jobs and training opportunities - whilst generating increased tax revenues and decreasing bills for unemployment.
The next Labour government also needs to commit itself to rebalancing the economic fortunes of the different regions and countries within the UK. Leaving everything to market forces has led to intense overheating of the economy in London and the Southeast, resulting in serious overcrowding and pressures on public services throughout that region – whilst many other parts of the country are experiencing the opposite situation with low economic demand, stagnant housing markets and so on. We need to recognise and support the sectors with potential in our different regions – and commit to measures to actively encourage a spread of new investment and growth across the UK as a whole.
2.Climate change is extremely important to voters in Hebden Bridge. What steps would you urge a future Labour Government to take?
I believe that the next Labour government must make a long term, sustainable commitment to invest in supporting the green economy and the renewable energy technologies which are vital to a low carbon future. Encouraging both major schemes such as off shore wind and wave generation, and estuary barrages, and expanding measures to support community-based micro-generation schemes all have a part to play, as does the upgrading of rail services, including working towards the electrification of our trans Pennine route.
3. The Tories seem to be following the UKIP agenda on Europe. How should Labour respond?
David Cameron is hell bent on rolling back the European measures which have been of real benefit to ordinary working people in this country, like the working time directive or improvements in parental leave – whilst doing nothing to tackle the essential imbalance in the institutional framework of the EU that is increasingly putting global companies in the driving seat. Labour needs to take a robust attitude to EU directives which are aimed at forcing public services such as the NHS down an increasingly privatised route – and find ways to implement the living wage, and ensure that agencies operating in the UK are not allowed to restrict their recruitment to workers from low wage European economies. It also needs to do more to facilitate the efforts of the trades unions to organise effectively amongst migrant workers and new arrivals in the UK
4. Estimates of the cost of replacing Trident vary, but it is thought to be in excess of £100 billion. Could this money be better spent?
Yes definitely. I am a member of CND, and fully support their campaign for a total rejection of plans to renew the Trident missile system.
5.Britain is now an ethnically diverse nation. How should a future Labour government approach the issue of immigration?
As I mentioned in my response to question 4, I believe that a future Labour government should take concrete steps to restrict the ability of companies to exploit immigrant workers and effectively use them to undercut established wage rates here.
At the same time, the government should robustly challenge the right wing propaganda that ignores the massive contribution made to the NHS and care sectors by migrant workers, whilst implying that the rights of migrant families to use such services themselves should be restricted in some way. And we also need to remember that there are some parts of the UK, such as Scotland, where many people see immigration as part of the solution to expanding their economy and tackling the problems resulting from their steadily ageing workforce.
6.To what extent should Britain become involved in the Syrian conflict?
The UK government should expand its humanitarian aid to the countries surrounding Syria which are currently struggling to cope with an influx of refugees from the conflict there. It should also engage through the UN in efforts to secure a ceasefire in the conflict and moves to achieve a negotiated solution.
7. If selected as a candidate, and elected as an MP, would you be prepared to engage with your voters on the Hebweb Forum?