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The campaign is in full swing with Cat Smith

Cat SmithIt’s now less than four months until polling day. As a candidate, my life is increasingly becoming more and more focussed on May 7. Slowly, other commitments in my life are put on the back burner.

I’m sure my friends and family are frustrated that they see less of me, but if they are, they don’t say anything, their support has been crucial for me so far and I know they will be cheering me over that finish line just less than four months from now.

Out and about on the campaign trail, there’s been a real shift in people’s responses. They used to say: “When’s the election? You’re starting early!” but now the more familiar: “Oh, there’s an election so you’re only interested in my vote” reply is creeping in. I guess not everyone knows if you’ve given up every weekend and a lot of evenings for the past two years campaigning.

So will the general election change the government? Commentators all seem to agree that no one really knows. They say it’s the most unpredictable election in a generation. Not a great position to be in as a candidate with your life on hold, but then my attitude is I will campaign with all I have to see a Labour government, and yes I hope I am elected and can play a part in that. But if I’m not elected, I’ll be OK. I worry far more for the people who won’t be OK with another five years of Tory rule.

The cost of living crisis is real. Families I meet and people I know are struggling to make ends meet. Pay doesn’t cover the bills, the rent, the food, the kids’ new shoes. My local food bank is doing a roaring trade. You wouldn’t know it from the Conservatives’ election poster but for many of the people I meet there’s no “recovery”, just more hard work and low pay.

I was in my local Accident and Emergency over the festive break, picking up my brother-in-law after he finished a long shift, and those minutes I was there I saw the patients on the trollies lined up in the corridor with no beds free for them. I saw the exhausted look and wry smile from a nurse finishing her shift.

Can our National Health Service take another five years of Tory misrule?

In an email from Douglas Alexander, we were told of Labour’s vision for public services. “Labour’s vision of Britain rejects the notion that we cannot afford decent public services when money is tight or that low pay is the only way that we can compete in the world and says that our country only succeeds when working people succeed.”

This line reminded me of a film I managed to watch over Christmas, Mike Leigh’s Spirit of 45, with the lessons of the 1945 Labour Government which came to power when the country was on its knees after six years of war, an economy that was in far worse a position than anything we would be likely to inherit this year. Yet when we have politicians with vision, a sense that it is possible to build a better world, the possible happens.

You know the lines: we built the NHS, council houses, brought all the railway companies together into British Rail and got people into work because the state controlled the means of production. If we can have full employment in wartime, why not in peacetime, too?

So if you hear: “They’re all the same” over the coming months, please remind those who are giving up on politics that the Labour offer will help millions of regular people who just want to feel secure again. An £8 minimum wage, an end to the exploitation of zero-hours contracts, freezing energy bills until 2017, putting young people back to work, reforming banks so they work for small businesses, building 200,000 homes a year, scrapping the bedroom tax, tackling tax avoidance, hiring more doctors, nurses, midwives and carers, repealing the Health and Social Care Act and putting the right values back at the heart of our NHS.

Now, to make it happen, let’s all join our nearest Labour campaign team!

Cat Smith is Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Lancaster and Fleetwood

This article also appears in Tribune

3 Comments

  1. Robert says:

    Bit rich looking back at the past when the future is now the issue. Labour has already turned down Cruddas plan to bring the railways back so that dead.

    Bedroom tax will that include those who now rent from the private sector labour brought this in because the media was shouting Asian on benefits get mansion with swimming pool and ten bedrooms they slammed down on the bedrooms without thinking that most people now have no choice but to rent private because labour allowed in millions and built only 3000 council houses.

    200,000 new houses year with doubt that maybe treble that will enter this country so we are building basically to stand still.

    A min wage of £8 in five years time so easy is it to forget one of labour main policies they put forward the living wage now dumped to have £8 in five years time is again a disgrace I think Cat had better hope the people have a few drinks before voting.

    Zero hour contract caused concern as soon as it was brought in and labour did sod all to sort it out , now of course they will.

    sorry but the fact is your not all the same, some of you think we are idiot while other think we have to vote labour but the fact is we do not.

  2. James Martin says:

    It’s comments like that Robert that show just how negative and destructive your politics now are. In the case of this particular young candidate we have someone we a good record of support for trade unions, LGBT issues, Palestine and public services, and who isn’t shy of openly discussing socialism and calling herself a socialist. Just the sort of person in other words that we desperately need to be elected this year (currently the seat is a Tory one), so please direct your comments elsewhere.

  3. Robert says:

    well then perhaps she should think of moving to a socialist party.

    The fact is she may be the best the biggest the greatest socialist living the fact is the labour party is not.

    Not forgetting that Union are now warning labour lose the next election and we are off shows that labour is about as dead a party as you can get for socialism.

    As for whether or not she is in a Union, the Union are as much to blame for New labour then any one else.

    For god sake Miliband for leader of the labour party the bloke attacked the Union because Progress were annoyed the Union were attacking them over seats.

    Sorry but she may be left of center labour are right of center.

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