I am proud, pleased, and if I’m honest just a little bit scared, to announce that Labour have chosen me to be their Parliamentary Candidate for the General Election on 8 June.
I have never considered myself a ‘professional politician’ which may seem strange as I’m currently a County Councillor and the Leader of the Labour Councillors on Kettering Borough Council, but have always considered myself more of a community volunteer. Until now I have never had any ambitions to be an MP or even to be a Parliamentary Candidate. I have only ever been interested in fighting for local people and to try and get improvements in local services.
Frankly, I have often been put off by the antics of some MPs in Parliament and always thought that actually local government is the main driving force behind delivering the day-to-day local services that benefit the people of Kettering, but having a local MP to also fight for these things would be a huge benefit for us all. MPs have a huge amount of influence and there are some very real local issues that they can use this influence to improve things.
Kettering General Hospital has just been rated as ‘inadequate’ and gone into special measures. Local unemployment is still too high, and the jobs we have are often too low paid and rely too much on zero-hours contracts. We have a huge housing problem locally with people unable to afford high house prices on the average wages available locally, and we have a growing problem of homelessness with the local council unable to meet demand.
If elected I have no intention of bouncing around on the back benches as if I’m in some kind of school debating society. My job would be first and foremost to provide help and support for local people and to that end I would open a constituency office in Kettering with staff to work tirelessly for local people. No longer would constituents simply get passed on to other agencies or just get copies of letters from ministers in answer to their queries and questions. I believe a good constituency MP should be working in and about their local communities, and as such I would actively work with local charities and organisations to give them an advocate and a voice standing up for them at every opportunity.
I do not underestimate the challenge of winning in Kettering, but I have a track record of putting aside party politics for the benefit of local people and although I understand that people cast their votes for a number of different reasons, would hope that voters who normally vote for other parties would at least be able to consider supporting me as a real alternative for Kettering.
If elected, I make one simple promise: To stand up and fight for local people and to make sure they have a local voice heard in Westminster and I hope my track record of working within the local community for many years will show that they are not just empty words.