The big news today is of course that UKIP have entered a pact with our Conservative MP Philip Hollobone and will not stand against him in the forthcoming General Election.
This is great news for the local Labour Party as we know that lots of UKIP voters had previously voted Labour and many will be very uncomfortable voting Conservative.
We know that Labour can win in Kettering with a good local candidate because we have done it before. Whilst there are some that are trying to turn the General Election into a vote about leaving the EU, that decision has already been taken almost a year ago! We are leaving the EU and while the details of how that will happen are extremely important, especially to the nation’s economy, it is not the only issue and the election shouldn’t be about only that.
In Kettering we have some very real local issues and what we need above anything on Kettering is a local MP who will stand up and fight for local people and be there to support and help them when they need it. National politics is important, but what happens on the back-benches of Parliament isn’t nearly as important as having a visible local MP working in our community.
Kettering General Hospital has just been judged as ‘inadequate’ and gone into special measures. Kettering isn’t benefiting economically, with still far too few jobs and with those that we have often poorly paid or on zero hours contracts. House prices locally are often far too high to be affordable for local people and we consequently have rising homelessness and a housing crisis the local council cannot cope with.
For the people of Kettering this election will be about how continuing austerity and more unfair welfare reforms affect local people. This is leading to greater pressures on local public services and with charities and food banks being stretched to the limit.
This is why I’m pleased about the pact between the Conservatives and UKIP as it gives people a clear choice locally and while there are many different reasons that people consider when choosing how to use their vote - because if they are primarily concerned about who their local MP is and how he or she will represent and respond to the needs of local people there will be a real electoral fight for Kettering!
Mick Scrimshaw is the Leader of the Labour Group at Kettering Borough Council, the Shadow Cabinet Member for Finance at Northamptonshire County Council. He has a public record of standing up for Kettering as a County Councillor for the Northall division in Kettering, Northants and since May 2015, a Borough Councillor for the William Knibb ward. He is a keen cyclist and also runs a family business with his wife.