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Fresh veg, nappies and the politics of trust

August 5, 2008

I am no expert on agriculture, but I trust that the weather that we have been having of late has been good for our local farmers.

The quality of local fruit and vegetables has been particularly noticeable to our household, thanks in huge part, to the Community Fruit & Veg Project that operates out of the Britannia Enterprise Centre, Waterworks Road, in Hastings.

This is a fantastic social enterprise project which sources its produce from farms across East Sussex. It is a not-for-profit organisation which numbers among its funders the Primary Care Trust and the European Union.

And it boxes up a great selection of local produce at cracking value for money. [See this link]

As I understand it, the project works in close partnership with the Sure Start programme operating out of the Hastings Town Children’s Centre, giving local children access to the fruit and vegetables that they need to have a healthy, balanced diet. This, in turn, helps them to meet their developmental milestones.

The Hastings Town Children’s Centre, incidentally, is another great asset for Castle Ward, one of the poorest wards in the South East of England.

When our daughter was first born, the staff at the Centre were really helpful in getting us started with re-usable nappies, and when I visited again recently, the nursery staff were passionate about their work and committed to the little ones that they care for.

These are the kind of success stories that we need to hear more about as economic times are getting harder.

Our MP in his column last week spoke of needing a better political ‘narrative’ for the Labour Party.

Unfortunately for Michael, I think that the country has lost interest in how Labour will seek to re-invent itself (once again).

What is crucial for Liberal Democrats however, is that we now shout loudly about the political philosophy that runs as a strong core throughout our policies.

We are a party that always seeks to prioritise social justice and civil liberties.

This is why we are a party that will provide excellence in early years’ service provision whatever a family’s social background.

This is why we are a party highlighting the importance of social enterprise models in, for example, neglected mental health services.

This is why we are a party that is making the case for our wealthy citizens to underwrite a fairer society via a reformed tax system which has at its heart the abolition of the Council Tax.

The mood music from the Conservatives on these different issues is deliberately soothing. But the fact is that they do not have the policy substance to back up their positioning.

As Vince Cable (Lib Dem Shadow Chancellor) has said recently, when you look at the Tories’ tax proposals, the only people destined to benefit are the dead millionaires whose Inheritance Tax thresholds will be raised.

In hard economic times, we need a politics that is connected to the everyday struggles of Hastings and Rye families.

In my role as parliamentary campaigner, I am determined to show that the Lib Dems are the party to trust for this.


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