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What are the Tories doing to save our fishermen?

July 15, 2009

column-picture1Earlier this week I was interviewed by BBC Sussex because I have called for our Labour MP to resign from his new job as Equalities Minister.

I have done this because of the Government’s refusal to help Hastings & Rye fishermen.

This is a significant matter of principle – just as it was a matter of principle for the Government to deliver a public inquiry into the Iraq War.

Labour has failed on both counts.

Whilst I have supported and acknowledged the considerable efforts of Michael Foster on behalf of our local fishermen, (just as, I believe, he has supported Liberal Democrat efforts on their behalf) he obviously does not agree with me that he should use all the tools in his political box, and raise the plight of our local fishing industry up the Government’s agenda, by giving his ministerial resignation.

I should be clear. I have not asked him to resign as an MP – although I would love to fight a by-election. I have asked him to give up his ministerial pension on this issue.

I am told that his office made ‘no comment’ to BBC Sussex.

Whilst this is disappointing, it is not half as disappointing as the Conservatives record on this score.

Shortly after the recent elections, I wrote (I admit) a tongue-in-cheek note to my Conservative counterpart congratulating her on managing to get a Conservative Party poster on the net huts in Hastings Old Town.

I said to her that this was a remarkable achievement, given the record of the previous Conservative Government, and of Jacqui Lait (the town’s previous Conservative MP).

I asked Amber what the Conservatives were doing locally and nationally to deserve their poster site.

I was directed to the Conservative Party national website, but could not find any information about the under-10 metre fishing sector.

When I pressed Amber, in a follow-up email, to tell me what Conservatives have been doing locally to help our fishermen, there was no answer forthcoming whatsoever.

This is another example of when a strong and radical political voice is needed to advocate on behalf of an important set of constituents, and a historic trade for our area, and we find the Conservative Party sadly lacking.

Let’s be frank. Unless something radical is done, our fishing industry will die.

We need leadership from our local MP, and from his Government.

There is a way to avert disaster.

The quota agreement of February this year must be re-instated.

What is required in order to achieve this is, as the Spanish might say, political cojones.

We must work together. We must do whatever is in our power to do.

To paraphrase President Obama – ‘Yes we can.’

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