With deep family times here it’s a huge privilege to be standing to be your next MP.
I hope you’ll have seen my election video doing the rounds on social media – do reach out for any questions. But now I want to write to you about the most important decision you will make in a generation.
This election is about the defining question of our age: about something even bigger than Brexit.
The seismic question is: “How did we become such a divided country, fractured across the lines of a foolishly presented EU referendum, and what do we do to get out of this mess?”
Only Labour is answering that question. Brexit is a symptom of a much more pernicious disease. The disease has three characteristics and Labour has a healing and transformational plan for each of them.
First, austerity. The Conservative and Lib Dems – contrary to the advice of Nobel-prize winning economists – made a political choice to inflict austerity and misery on millions. In Tunbridge Wells, there are now 13 food banks, the largest of which serves nearly 5,000 meals a year; child poverty is at 22 percent; fuel poverty is nearly 10 percent. Labour will end the need for food banks, abolish poverty and in-work poverty, and end homelessness.
Second, the decimation of manufacturing. For 79 years until 1968, the High Brooms Brick & Tile Company by the train station was part of a country that proudly made things. But in a few generations, we became an economy that was overwhelmingly reliant on the services sector; skewed towards London. It’s no surprise those worst hit by deindustrialisation voted most strongly to leave the EU. Labour will transform our economy, rebalancing it for the better as part of our Green Industrial Revolution which will make millions of sustainable, green jobs.
Third, the disenfranchisement of millions. Since the 2000s voter turnout at general elections has languished around 50-60 percent (and in EU and local elections – an inadequate guide to general election results which is why tactical voting sites are split on what to do here – it is usually in the 30s). Millions feel without a voice’. The EU referendum was the largest ever electoral turnout in Britain: people wanted to be heard because they felt they had been ignored before.
This is critical. Because the continued Tory vision of a hard Brexit disenfranchises all those who voted Remain and threatens an economic catastrophe. But just as divisively, the Lib Dems’ promise to revoke Brexit would be an illiberal and anti-democratic move against the millions who voted to leave. Only Labour is promising the democratic option of a people’s vote.
We cannot heal our divided country through a hard Brexit, or by saying ‘b****cks to Brexit’ to the 45 percent of our neighbours in Tunbridge Wells who voted to leave. We need to heal our divisions. As tolerant, caring, and decent people I believe you agee. And that’s why I’m asking for your vote on Thursday 12 December.