Feature article in the Craven Herald

The current edition of the Craven Herald (Thursday 1 June) includes articles by all the candidates standing for Skipton and Ripon in the General Election. The on line edition does not appear to include these so for the benefit of those of you who have bought the paper here is the article by Labour candidate Alan Woodhead.

“Voters in Skipton and Ripon have a clear choice.  Either stick with an MP who, when first elected, promised to speak up for local people but now just follows his party line, or opt for a fresh start with Labour.

Recent years have been difficult for most people. Wages fail to keep pace with rising prices. Council services have been cut to the bone. Libraries, once a core service, now rely on volunteers. Social care is in crisis. But instead of backing local people your MP voted to cut council funding six times since 2010. Recently he even backed a measure which would see school funding cut by £400 per pupil, on average. He talks of ‘strong and stable’ leadership but moves with the prevailing wind – backing ‘remain’ in the referendum but now arguing for exit, not just from EU institutions, but from the single market which has been a boon to many exporters.

There is another way. Labour’s fully costed manifesto makes commitments to fund the NHS, tackle the social care crisis, protect living standards, build much needed houses and eliminate student fees that have burdened a generation with debt. Labour will also take back control of Rail, Water and the Royal Mail.

Labour would also protect pensioners. As the Conservatives abandon their commitments to older people, Labour will guarantee the state pension ‘triple lock’ throughout the next Parliament. The Winter Fuel Allowance and free bus passes will also be guaranteed as universal benefits.  And there will be no ‘dementia tax’ under Labour.

The gap between rich and poor is getting wider. Salaries of company bosses have rocketed while many workers struggle to manage on insecure contracts. Labour’s plans would see no increase in income tax for anyone earning below £80,000, with only a modest, affordable, increase for top earners. VAT and National Insurance rates would not change, but we would return company taxation to a reasonable level.

The Tories now claim to be on the side of workers. But look at their record.  They spent the 1980s and 1990s cutting back on workplace rights and continued their assault in the last Parliament with their Trade Union Act. Workers now find it hard to enforce remaining rights because they have to pay unaffordable fees if they take their boss to a tribunal.

Some voters might be tempted to turn to one of the minor parties. But if you want a Yorkshireman to represent you I was born and brought up in Middlesbrough and have lived just outside Ripon for nearly 30 years. And as for the Greens, who came last in 2015, their candidate might sound reasonable, but remember the local Greens have done a behind closed doors deal with the Lib Dems – the party that backed the Tories in the coalition government of 2010-2015. These two parties are treating their voters like chips to be swapped in a game. If the local Greens genuinely wanted to defeat the Tories they would have stood aside for Labour.”



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