YOUR VOICE

Speaking up for Canterbury, Whitstable and the Villages

MY POLITICS

I was always fascinated by politics as a child growing up in the febrile political atmosphere of the 1980s. My father was a police officer and this imbued in me a strong belief in public service, and in supporting those who look after our communities and keep us safe. I also saw how Conservative governments starved our public services of vital funds, and failed to support public sector workers.

As an adult, Labour in power changed my life. I experienced first-hand the positive difference that Labour in government can make, with a huge investment in education and health provision, sensible economic policies to protect and promote growth, and care for our people and our planet. Gordon Brown’s tax credits were a vital lifeline to me and enabled me to work and bring up my children as a single parent. Sometimes people accuse me of being a ‘Blairite’, but, if anything in Labour terms, I’m a ‘Brownite’ thanks to our fabulous ex-Chancellor and PM’s record of responsible, well-managed growth within a caring society.

The years since Labour lost power have been difficult for the country and for the Party. I became politically active locally to help to bring Labour back to government, and to challenge the austerity of the Tory-Lib Dem coalition. I also believed passionately in Britain’s place at the heart of Europe, so I fought hard with people from all parties to Remain in the EU and then to oppose Brexit.

I shared the initial enthusiasm that many had for Jeremy Corbyn and his calls for a ‘kinder, gentler politics’, but sadly the reality proved to be anything but. I was appalled by the antisemitism within a section of the Labour Party and challenged it at every opportunity. Thankfully Labour has since changed, acknowledged the mistakes of the past and moved to again reflect the priorities of the British people.

I don’t always agree with the current Party line, for example on Brexit, but I will continue to fight from within the Party for the beliefs that I and many thousands of Members, and millions of people beyond, share. That’s why I also believe in working across party lines to advance the causes and beliefs that we have in common.

MY VIEWS

Brexit and Europe

My views on Brexit are well known, but I'm happy to restate here that I think Brexit has been a disaster for our area. Precious links with our near neighbours have been damaged, affecting our universities, language schools and local businesses. The economic and environmental impacts of Brexit at our border - and the ongoing chaos on Kent's roads - are clear for all to see. It saddens me deeply that EU friends who had made their lives in Canterbury felt little choice but to leave.

Far from a confident 'Global Britain', successive Conservative government actions on Brexit have diminished Britain on the global stage and become something of an international tragicomedy. Tory recklessness is endangering peace in Northern Ireland and contributing to the fragmentation and possible breakup of the United Kingdom.

My party has often preferred to keep quiet on Brexit, but I can't. I will continue to call out its failings, to campaign for the closest possible relationship with the EU, and to champion the European cause within the Labour Party. Locally, I will work with others to ensure we strengthen relations across the channel through bilateral relationships such as twinning.

 

Electoral Reform

The Labour Party Conference voted overwhelmingly to back Proportional Representation (PR) and I fully support this. Our voting system is unfair and broken. Too many people in the UK see their votes wasted. Too many parliamentary seats and councils have become a modern version of the 'rotten borough', where one party rules unchallenged. Nationally the system favours the Conservatives, when in fact the 'progressive' share of the vote is usually higher. In Scotland the Nationalists benefit, contributing to the fragmentation of our country.

As we've seen here in Canterbury and Whitstable, the only way to beat the system is by voting tactically. So we have to use our first opportunity to change the broken system and to make tactical voting a thing of the past. I will continue to argue that Labour should change its policy to support fair votes. Everyone needs to know that their vote matters in a proportional voting system. It's time for PR.



Women's Rights

As a feminist, women’s rights have always been a priority throughout my life. When I entered Parliament, I was only the 487th woman ever to have been elected in its history, compared to the in excess of 5,000 men who’d been successful. Women make up almost 52% of the UK’s population, so far from being merely a protected ‘minority’, us having full equal rights means that we would see more women in Parliament (currently, we make up only a third of all MPs), more senior medical consultants, more executives, senior decision makers, business leaders and managers, more female comedians, more panel members, more engineers, union leaders, sports coaches, designers, film directors, architects, scientists, hoteliers, senior university staff, farmers, restaurateurs, etc.
It is increasingly vital that we are not just a quota, ‘making up the numbers’ while men in senior roles make all of the important decisions.

Women are invested in all areas of policy and political life - from the economy to foreign policy, sport to transport, childcare to defence, climate and conservation and of course ending VAWG (violence against women and girls). We need to represent the women working in those areas and also know how they will impact on all women’s lives. We know women still do the bulk of caring, childcare, low paid work, and disabled women and ethnic minority women are the least represented or influential in policy areas that impact them the most. And of course the next leader of the Labour Party must be a woman!

Yes, women’s rights do sometimes clash with the interests of some and Those who disagree with me often engage in aggressive tactics silence a woman who speaks up and speaks her mind. Dedicating many hours to obsessive numbers of social media posts about me, repeatedly misrepresenting my views and framing feminism as ‘bigoted’ and ‘transphobic’.

There never will be an automatic ‘right’ for biological men to enter women’s single sex spaces such as changing rooms, sports teams, school bathrooms, prison wings, hospital wards, or domestic violence refuges. Indeed, it is vital that women and girls are able to use those spaces free from the possibility of encountering men, or being at risk from potential male violence or voyeurism.
I also believe, apart from the small number of those who choose to disregard women’s rights and our right to our own spaces, the vast majority of men and trans people just wish to live their lives in peace, free from conflict and that they have every right to do so.

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