Election issues are already clear
One week into the General Election campaign, and with six more to go, the issues are already becoming clear -; at least in Hammersmith.
Of course they may change, but seven days of pounding the streets (actually quite a few years) has given me valuable insight into what residents here think this Election should be about.
Before giving you my thoughts, however, please tell me what is the most important issue to you by clicking HERE.
And if you have already decided to support me, please think about helping in the campaign (just reply to this email) or making a donation HERE.
Hospitals, homes and schools
These are the three issues that come up most often when I am talking to people in Shepherds Bush, Hammersmith and Fulham, though -; see below -; they are by no means the only ones.
Perhaps that is no surprise -; they are bread and butter issues that affect our daily lives. But each has a special significance in H&F.
Campaigners have done a great job in forcing the Government to postpone the destruction of Charing Cross Hospital -; the bulldozers will not now be going in this year as originally planned. But demolition, and with it the loss of the A&E and over 300 beds, is postponed not abandoned. So the fight must go on.
Almost every school in the country is facing some real cut in its budget, but in Tory-controlled rural areas these are quite small. In H&F we face the fourth biggest cuts in the country -; up to 25% in some cases and more than 10% in every one of our 47 schools.
And, despite the best efforts of a Labour council and Mayor, the government is not just failing to build new affordable homes, it still intends to force councils to sell their best properties on the open market, while allowing developers to build for overseas investors.
Residents in their thousands have left me in no doubt that they don’t like Theresa May’s ‘Hard Brexit’. My position on this is clear.
I worked hard in the Remain campaign and though I respect the outcome of the referendum, I don’t believe it was a vote for an extreme Hard Brexit, or that it gave the Tories permission to take us out of the EU without Parliament or the people having a say on the terms.
So I voted against triggering Article 50, and for a second referendum on the deal the government negotiates. In other words, the British people should have a chance to say either, yes we think we could be a prosperous, secure and open country outside the EU or realise that we are losing far more than we gain by leaving and think again.
I have a special message to those who are thinking of voting for one of the other pro-Remain candidates in the election. Firstly, my position is at least as robust as the Lib Dems or the Greens. And secondly no third party got even 5% of the votes here in 2015. A vote for anyone but Labour in Hammersmith will let in a Hard Brexit Tory.
It’s not all Brexit
But as I said there are other important issues locally, and given this week was the last time Parliament will sit for a couple of months, I took the opportunity to raise some of them.
I led a major debate on product safety, with the support of MPs from several Parties and all four countries of the UK. This arose from the horrific Shepherds Bush fire last summer caused by a faulty tumble dryer.
It has taken months of work by me, Which? and the Fire Brigade even to get the advice changed to tell people not to use these machines -; of which five and a half million were sold. But the issue is now unavoidable and the Government is being forced to act.
You can read the whole debate HERE.
Heathrow expansion is another running sore, with the environmental damage falling squarely on areas like Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush. I challenged the Government on this when they announced they could not comply with the timetable for improving air quality HERE.
In a debate on post office closures, I was able to highlight the problems in Shepherds Bush, where outright closures have been replaced with moving offices to more remote (and therefore cheaper) sites and ‘temporary’ closures -; one of which has now lasted two years. You can read my contribution HERE.
And in my role as shadow housing minister, I questioned the minister on why he was blocking licensing schemes for private landlords, such as that proposed by H&F, which weed out rogue and slum landlords. Something which not only tenants but the majority of good landlords support. You can read my intervention HERE.
Anyway, that’s it for the Commons for now. Back to the door-knocking.