Thursday, 1 January 2015

My New Year's Message for 2015

I have spent 2014 listening to voters across the Hexham constituency. I have found that people are working harder and harder, but standing still, families struggling with bills that are growing faster than their wages; young people, taking on mountains of debt to get a proper education, only to find themselves with no job at the other end

and most importantly an NHS where we face restrictions to A and E services with people waiting longer and longer to get the care they need.

I have listened to many residents across the constituency,

I have met with trade unions, employers, small business owners and visited two of our large employers SCA in Prudhoe and Egger in Hexham,

we discussed the shortage of skills in engineering related subjects, we have a skills shortage at a time when youth unemployment remains stubbornly high,

government has a role in making sure that both problems are solved together.

I have seen first hand the impact that Tory policies have on people in our region.

I have listened to people who have been hit by the bedroom tax, one parent who was separated from their partner who and had children to stay but still had to pay.

I visited West Northumberland Food Bank who continue to help individuals and families in crisis due to delays in support that now, unfortunately, seem to be designed into our welfare system.

It doesn’t have to be this way. I don't need reminding that there is only four short months until the general election,

This year, we have the chance to change direction;

a chance to build a recovery that benefits all and not just the few at the top,

a chance to fight for fair wages that actually reward hard work.

A chance to elect a government who is bold enough to stand with the many in taking on vested interests wether they are in the press in the banks or in the energy sector.

At the start of the new year we look forward, not back

which is why I can say with confidence a Labour government will be a stark contrast to Cameron and Osbornes austerity only approach

they have used the deficit as an excuse to sell off national assets like the Royal Mail and East Coast mainline to their rich friends at the same time as growing the national debt.

But the 2015 Labour government will also be different from the one elected 1997,

Of course I will challenge criticism of our achievements such opening sure start centres and rebuilding schools and hospitals...

but we have learned from the past, we could have regulated the financial services sector and we could have stayed out of Iraq,

the Labour MPs voting to stay out of Syria shows a more measured approach to Foreign policy

and the willingness to tax bankers bonuses is evidence that we are not afraid to intervene when we see those at the top being rewarded for failure.

I believe we have the right policies for the future of our region and our country as a whole.

There will be a long overdue increase in the minimum wage, which will reduce the welfare bill by reducing the demand for in work benefits

we will address the ongoing crisis in our NHS and protect relied on services.

We will introduce fair rules on immigration which will not only will address people's fears about the negative effects of immigration but also end the exploitation of workers,

we will repeal the unfair bedroom tax

And we will build an reformed economy, so that the benefits of growth are felt by working people and not just the few at the very top.

I am proud to be part of a forward-looking Labour Party which puts the long term future of the many before the short term gains of the few,

A Labour Party who represent the North and not just the south.

And a Labour Party which needs your support to bring about the change we all want to see.

I will finish by wishing you a Happy New Year, and all the best to you your friends and family for 2015.

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