It was a privilege to be selected as Gloucester’s Labour PPC (prospective parliamentary candidate) in December 2017, and this year has been absolutely fantastic.
I’ve really appreciated being welcomed by so many brilliant communities across Gloucester, and seeing my city in a different way to how I saw it when growing up. I’ve met a huge number of committed and hardworking people who strive to support and improve the place we all love.
It has been impossible not to notice, though, the very great hardship and stress caused to many by austerity.
This year has been the tenth anniversary since the global financial crisis in 2008. It should have been a wake up call, prompting us to properly reform our oversized banks, and overpaid bankers. Instead we are all paying the price through Tory austerity.
UK workers are suffering the longest squeeze on real wages in modern history. By the time wages are forecast to return to their pre-crash level in 2025, real wages will have been in decline for 17 years.
And this year we have also heard from the UN about the impact of austerity policies. The Tories have inflicted great misery on citizens – public service cuts that damage communities, along with shameful increases in poverty and homelessness, housing problems and job insecurity.
Homelessness is especially painful at this time of year. The cold weather makes rough sleeping that much more difficult and dangerous. And things aren’t all that much better for those housed in temporary accommodation. Distressingly, 174 Gloucester children faced Christmas without a home to call their own.
Voluntary organisations like the City Mission do a brilliant job of supporting homeless people in Gloucester, but we cannot leave it to charities to solve this crisis. The council and the government need to do more, too. The government’s plan for homelessness is woefully inadequate and even if it works, there will still be people sleeping rough at Christmas up to a decade from now.
It’s not good enough – and sadly it’s no surprise that the UN reported government ministers are in denial about the misery they are inflicting. Our Tory council and our current MP here in Gloucester are in just as much denial. Tory MP Richard Graham even said that our homeless shelter was a sign that Gloucester is “on the up”!
It’s hard to believe that anyone can be so blind, which is what I want in 2019 is a Labour government that will reverse the damaging Tory cuts and rebuild Britain so that it works for everyone, not just the privileged few.
We are the many. We have a positive vision for the future of Gloucester and of our country. An economy that works for the many. A country where we invest in the right type of industries to secure our future. A city where everyone can have a decent home, a worthwhile job, and a safe community.
I look forward to 2019 when I know we will work together towards that vision.