Posted: October 11, 2014 Filed under: Uncategorized
LISTENING TO YOU, CAMPAIGNING FOR YOU
What will I campaign for as Labour MP for Uxbridge & South Ruislip?
Promoted by Alex Mitchell on behalf of Chris Summers c/o 34 Connaught Heights, Uxbridge Road, Uxbridge UB10 0NT.
– Unlike Boris Johnson, Ray Puddifoot and most Hillingdon Conservatives I am in favour of a thriving Heathrow airport as I know how important it is to our local economy. But I am opposed to Heathrow’s proposed third runway which would have a disproportionate impact on residents and mean new people would come under the flightpath.
I was delighted Sir Howard Davies ruled out Boris Johnson’s preposterous “Boris Island” airport in the Thames estuary.
In purely human terms I believe a second runway at Gatwick is the best option for increasing airport capacity in the south east of England as it would affect far fewer people.
But the question of whether the extra runway capacity has to come at a “hub” airport like Heathrow is one for the Davies Commission, which will report in the summer of 2015.
The recent opening of Terminal 2 has given a huge boost to the airport but Heathrow needs to step up and do more to tackle noise and pollution issues.
I sit on the Heathrow Airport Consultative Committee and am well aware of the issues facing the airport. But closing it down – as Boris Johnson wants to – is not an option.
HS2 – I am not convinced by the business case for HS2 which, at its current estimate of £42bn, is simply not worth the money. I am aware it is popular in the Midlands and the North and some claim it is a case of national interest versus local interest. But I am totally against it and believe the money would be better spent on updating hospitals like Hillingdon, which needs £50m of investment. If HS2 does get the go-ahead it is essential it does not compromise the quality of life of residents who live along the route. I have campaigned tirelessly and successfully in Northolt for HS2 to be put in a tunnel.
RAF Northolt – I will campaign for a new and more comprehensive consultation on RAF Northolt, which is threatening to become a commercial airport at the expense of people in South Ruislip in particular. I will remain vigilant when it comes to proposals to increase capacity at RAF Northolt to cope with commercial demand.
Transport – I will campaign for step-free access to those London Underground stations in the borough which are currently inaccessible to people with mobility issues. I will put pressure on TfL to secure funding and will also press Hillingdon Council to offer a contribution, for example from Section 106 money accruing from new developments in the areas around the stations. I am also in favour of the idea of a public fund to pay for step-free access.
Hospitals – I will campaign for Hillingdon Hospital to get the £40m-£50m it needs from the Department of Health to refurbish the Tower and Podium buildings and hopefully upgrade some of the prefab buildings which date from the 1940s. It will need this major upgrade if it is to cope following the closure of the A&E department at Ealing and Charing Cross hospitals. I would also fight to preserve Harefield Hospital in the event of any attempts to downgrade its services.
Planning issues – I will support planning applications that offer jobs and prosperity for the area but I will oppose them if the impact on local residents outweighs the benefits.
London-wide – I will campaign for 100,000 affordable homes to be built across London in the next decade. I will campaign for the Freedom Pass to be extended until 2020 or beyond, to give peace of mind to the area’s older people and those with disability issues.
Economy and Standard of Living
We need to strengthen support for manufacturing, especially small and growing businesses, specifically I support Ed Balls’ plan for a British Investment Bank which would provide capital for inventors and entrepreneurs to start businesses and grow them, employing more people and increasing exports.
Better incentives should be offered for companies to relocate to areas of Britain with high unemployment and a surplus of housing (rather than quit the country entirely).
I will campaign for compulsory apprenticeship schemes to be introduced for all UK-based medium and large businesses and more links encouraged between business and colleges/universities.
In the long term I will campaign for a financial transaction tax and a currency transaction levy, with the money being used by the British Investment Bank.
Another long term aim would be for a Land Value Tax to be introduced. This would discourage “land banking” by developers.
I am in favour of reintroducing the 50p top rate of tax for those earning over £150,000p.a.
I support further raises in the tax threshold, with a higher level for those living in London boroughs.
I was massively pleased to hear Ed Miliband pledging to freeze gas and electric bills for 2 years from the date of the 2015 general election.
This is a promise we can and will deliver on.
I applaud Andy Burnham’s plans to repeal the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and introduce new legislation creating a new NHS, fit for the 21st century.
But I believe there is a need for a major review of the NHS – to report within 12 months – to discover the long-term financial predicament facing the NHS as a whole (ie not just individual trusts) and the ramifications of PFI and make recommendations based on the outcome, but enshrining the principle of the NHS being free to use for all UK citizens. It would address the cost implications for the NHS of an ageing population and the so-called “diabetes timebomb”.
I will campaign for legislation to allow Assisted Dying for people who face terminal illnesses or a low quality of life and no prospect of a cure for their condition.
Safeguards would have to be introduced and each case would have to be agreed by an independent panel, containing medical and legal experts.
The state should provide finance to provide living wills – or advance decisions – for everyone at the age of 60.
The NHS should clamp down on frivolous cosmetic surgery and other unnecessary procedures.
Efforts should be made to renegotiate or even cancel PFI contracts which are unfavourable to the NHS.
I will campaign for the harmful changes the coalition has made to Disability Living Allowance to be undone.
Having heard of the importance of the Independent Living Fund, I will do everything in my power to ensure that it is not abolished, as currently proposed, in June.
I will also campaign for step-free access to all Tube stations in the constituency.
TfL should be seeking to make all London Underground stations step-free access by 2030.
I will also campaign for more support for families caring for a loved one with a disability.
I welcome the increase – announced by Ed Miliband – in the minimum wage to £8 an hour and I believe all London councils should be paying their staff a “London living wage” – of £10 an hour and forcing their contractors to do the same.
More action is needed to prosecute companies flouting the minimum wage.
Tougher penalties should be introduced for companies who discriminate on the basis of race, religion, gender, sexuality or disability.
Some of the Thatcher-era laws against trade unions need to be repealed.
Trade unions should be encouraged in workplaces where they are weak (eg pubs, cafes, restaurants, hotels) and legislation should be introduced to strengthen unions’ rights to organise in a work place.
A new criminal offence should be introduced allowing prosecution of employers who stop workers joining unions.
I will campaign for legislation to be introduced to ban blacklisting by employers of union members or people with political affiliations.
There is a need for a massive increase in house-building by both the private and public sector and I welcome the 200,000 a year target set by Ed Miliband.
Tax breaks should be given to encourage pension funds – including government and council pension funds – and corporations to invest in new housing stock.
Planning rules should be changed to make it easier to build. Planning laws should also encourage more smaller homes (1- and 2-bed) rather than 4- and 5-bed executive homes.
Local authorities should also be encouraged to accept more conversions of shops and offices into homes but this should be done in consultation with local people.
Funding should be made available to ensure that key workers (police, fire, paramedics, nurses, teachers) can afford housing close to their workplace.
The Lyons Review – which was commissioned by the Labour Party and published in October 2014 – came up with a 180-page report which gave numerous recommendations into how the supply of land could be increased to provide the 200,000 homes a year which are needed, most of them in and around London.
The report (click below to read it in full) also recommended that local people should be given priority when new homes were built, something I totally support.
I support the plans set out by Labour for legislation to ban letting agents fees but I would campaign for a proper system of rent controls which should also be introduced across the UK, starting with cities like London.
Legislation should be introduced to subject all flats and rented houses to a maximum controlled rent, set by an independent valuation board.
Landlords who breach rent controls should face large fines and even compulsory purchase orders in the case of repeat offenders.
I believe the Right-to-Buy was a short-sighted policy as it has left a situation where millions of pounds is paid annually by local authorities to private landlords to house people in homes, many of which are former council properties.
To prevent the devastating loss of social housing stock, I would campaign for an end to discounts for Right-to-Buy. People who have lived in a council property for many years should still be allowed to buy their own houses or flats but they should pay full market value and that money should be ringfenced and only be used to build more council houses. The Right-t0-Buy should be removed from new council houses, otherwise we risk repeating the mistake and losing all our stock again.
Councils should be given funds to buy flats back from the private rented sector and the compulsory purchase of empty houses should be made easier and quicker and a special Housing Order should be introduced so that councils could in some cases compulsorily purchase – at a fair market price – flats in blocks or on estates that were previously council-owned.
In the long-term this would save public money.
I also support the proposed ban on the marketing of homes abroad (ie selling homes in the UK to wealthy foreigners) for the first 12 months they are on sale and planning committees should be allowed to insist suc sold to UK residents.
Community Land Trusts should be encouraged and legislation introduced to speed up the process whereby a disused building or piece of land can become a CLT.
I welcome 99% of Sir John Stevens’ review of policing, which was commissioned by Yvette Cooper in 2011, and was published in Nov 2013
I am delighted that Labour will be abolishing the pointless and wasteful Police and Crime Commissioners at the end of their current terms and returning to elected and accountable police authorities outside of London.
We should also have open disciplinary hearings for police officers, as is the case for doctors and nurses. Why should police corruption and misbehaviour be covered up?
I also welcome the idea of reducing the number of police forces in England and Wales from 43 to around 10 regional constabularies, with the Metropolitan merging with the City of London force.
But because so much crime is driven by drugs, I believe it is right to have a debate about the decriminalising of all drugs followed by a referendum on three options – status quo; decriminalising cannabis; decriminalising all drugs.
If the majority vote for the status quo we should revitalise the ‘war on drugs’, targeting the major networks and attempting to ‘flip’ the small fry.
Prisons should remain the default option for people who have committed acts of violence or sex offences.
Burglars, muggers and other acquisitive criminals should be sent to lower security prisons where they would serve shorter sentences and do unpaid community work.
I am also totally opposed to the coalition government’s undermining of the legal aid system, which is essential to a healthy criminal justice system and I will campaign for legal aid to be properly funded.
I welcome plans by Yvette Cooper and Rachel Reeves to remove jobless benefits for EU migrants for the first two years that they come to the UK.
I also applaud Ed Miliband’s plans to crack down on recruitment agencies which deliberately go to Europe to find workers who will work at lower wages – often living in squalid conditions – and will undercut UK workers.
The law should also be changed so that asylum seekers are granted provisional UK residence status (for a period of, perhaps 10 years) which can be revoked if they commit a serious offence –
any offence for which they are sentenced to more than 6 months in prison.
They could then be deported after serving their sentence in a UK jail.
Children (under-18s) would be exempt from deportations.
After the 10-year period expires the former asylum seekers should be granted full UK citizenship.
Efforts must also be made to restrict the entry into the UK of EU citizens who have serious criminal records – for example Arnis Zalkalns, the man suspected of killing schoolgirl Alice Gross in Ealing, should never have been allowed into the UK when he had a conviction for murder.
I will also campaign for a scheme – similar to they have in Australia – whereby electricians, plumbers and other contractors have to show identity proving they have a valid qualification before buying supplies. This would cut out the competition from unqualified and shoddy workers, many of them illegal immigrants.
We should end the forced academisation of schools and also freeze free schools.
All schools (including academies, free schools and private schools) must allow all staff to be represented by trade unions.
The curriculum should be redesigned so that in primary schools more attention is paid to foreign languages (French, German, Spanish, Chinese).
In secondary schools the curriculum would be redesigned so that it offers more practical subjects – eg Electronics, Engineering and Metallurgy at GCSE level.
All children aged 11-16 should be taught basic simple life facts in an impartial curriculum – world geography (ie where certain countries are, what languages are spoken, flags etc), economy (basics on wages, salaries, taxation, national insurance etc) and politics/religion (eg the Holocaust and the Israel/Palestine situation, slavery and black history, the history of communism/socialism; trade unions, the development of democracy in the UK and the development of global capitalism).
Adults (especially immigrants) who are not proficient in English should be given compulsory, but heavily subsidised, English lessons in schools and be encouraged to take GCSE-level exams to test their proficiency and give them certificates which would help them gain work.
In the long term I believe we should seek to follow the Finnish education model, where private education is discouraged and 98% of children attend their local comprehensive schools. This leads to a more cohesive and egalitarian society.
I am in favour of Britain’s railways being renationalised as and when existing franchises expire.
The East Coast Main Line is an example of where a state-run railway can be successful and profitable.
I do not believe the business case for HS2 has been proved and I would campaign for it to be cancelled by a future government of whichever persuasion.
I believe we should also improve the nation’s infrastructure, eg introduce dual carriageway from Scotch Corner to Berwick (via Newcastle).
For airports see above (under Local Issues) – but I also think we need to encourage the growth of regional airports so that people can fly abroad from airports nearer to where they live in Scotland, Wales, the North of England and the West Country.
I am a passionate supporter of local pubs and I believe a national strategy needs to be put in place to save our remaining pubs, which are community assets.
Changes need to be made to taxation to enable pubs to compete better with supermarkets and others offering cut-price alcohol.
The planning system also needs to be changed to make all existing public houses “community assets” which can only be demolished or converted with prior permission from the local authority’s planning commission.
Local authorities should also be encouraged to provide help to keep pubs viable and publicans should be encouraged to diversify as much as possible (especially for large pubs) by allowing their premises to be used for creches, community activities or other activities of benefit to the local community.
The UK should reposition itself geopolitically and accept that nowadays the UK is no longer a world power. We need to accept that we are beyond a post-imperial era.
The Commonwealth should continue, but only as an international association of mainly English-speaking nations designed largely to boost trade and other links.
We should cancel the Trident nuclear weapons replacement and reposition ourselves, along the lines of Germany and Sweden. We would remain Nato members but have no greater political clout abroad than Brazil or Australia.
We should accept that the loss of our independent nuclear deterrent may mean us losing our seat on the UN Security Council.
While we should retain something of the “special relationship” with the US, we would change our policy towards Israel, the Arab world and Muslim nations.
We should not slavishly follow US policy regarding Israel, Afghanistan, Iraq etc.
We should attempt to build strong, democracies in Egypt, Libya (and eventually post-Assad, Syria) and work on warming relations with Iran.
We should support the Iraqi government in its war against IS and we should prosecute to the full extent of the law any British citizen found to have committed war crimes for IS.
We should also try to reintroduce an “ethical foreign policy” and speak up against countries like Sri Lanka who carried out human rights abuses against the Tamil community.
UK should seek better relations with nations of growing economic importance – Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria and Turkey – and should continue to try to improve relations with China and Russia while remaining critical of human rights abuses when necessary.
We should continue the existing timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Scrap Trident replacement and quit the nuclear “club” of nations, even if that means leave the UN security council. Spend some of the saved money on equipment for the Army, Navy and RAF and improving pay and living quarters for service personnel and their families.
We should commission both of the new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers and put them into service, operating under the auspices of Nato and the UN and also when necessary to protect British citizens in war-torn countries.
Britain, having distanced itself somewhat from the US, should seek better relationships with France and Germany (in particular) and the EU in general.
We should continue to work within the EU to save the euro zone but must remain firm and make it clear to countries like Greece that the UK will not write a blank cheque.
If there is any referendum on the EU we should campaign against leaving the EU and should stand up to UKIP on this issue.
Nearly 4 million jobs in the UK rely on us remaining with the EU and the simplistic arguments for leaving the EU simply do not add up.
I applaud Ed Miliband for his commitment to a virtually carbon-free energy industry in the UK by 2030.
We should speed up green policies and make it harder for Nimbys to object to wind turbines and wave generators both onshore and offshore.
We should be encouraging former shipyards and other areas of heavy industry to switch over to the production of green energy equipment. This should be a major jobs provider in the years ahead.
We should encourage more car sharing and introduce car club spaces on all main high streets, car parks, housing estates etc with membership free – paid for by government – to people who voluntarily give up their own cars.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has an appalling record when it comes to air pollution.
As Simon Birkett from Clean Air In London (pictured above, with me in South Ruislip) points out, he has failed to reduce nitrogen dioxide emissions in London, partly because of his failure to cut emissions from diesel buses and taxis and his failure to encourage electric vehicles.
Local authorities should be given more powers to be pro-active, including taking over sites which have become “eyesores” and get them developed for housing or employment. Too many speculators are “land banking” at the moment.
I am in favour of two chambers – an elected House of Commons (650 MPs) and a wholly elected House of Lords (perhaps 100 members, elected by proportional representation on a regional basis, with independents encouraged to stand as well as bishops, rabbis etc and a quota of 50% women).
The Lords (possible renamed as a Senate) should be a “checks and balances” chamber, designed to make sure laws comprise with a new written constitution, which would incorporate the Human Rights Act.
A new UK constitution should enshrine basic standards of law and political practice and would underpin the law in all the UK nations (Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England).
I am in favour of “devo max” for Scotland but the UK Parliament must remain in control of overall economic policy, foreign policy, armed forces and border control.
I also believe that when that is delivered the UK Parliament needs to be reconfigured so that only English MPs can vote on matters involving England.
The peace process should be encouraged to continue in Northern Ireland but the UK government should be more pro-active in encouraging the Stormont politicians to break down educational, housing and other barriers which maintain sectarianism.