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Cant never did anything

February 10, 2010

This column is always published on a Wednesday.

And the main trouble with that, is this: over the weekend I start to have a think about my column; I have a notion about what I am going to write, and then I read my Conservative counterpart’s contribution on a Tuesday, and all the best-laid plans go out of the window!

This week I had planned to write about the need for a capacity survey in the area surrounding Dungeness: a survey to identify the possibilities for new renewable energy projects. I planned to tear a strip off Ed Miliband MP, Energy & Climate Change Secretary, for ignoring the needs of Ryers, and speculate whether this was because he is spending too much of his time as Labour’s election manifesto coordinator…

But that will have to wait, as I have a visceral need to respond to the cant spouted by my Conservative counterpart in her Tuesday offering.

Amber makes a request for a clean and honest General Election campaign.

This is a bid for the moral high-ground. But it’s hard to respect a bid for the moral high-ground from the representative of a party whose leader has just launched a very personal attack on the Prime Minister (however accurate it was).

It is hard to respect a request for honesty from the same party that, last June, failed to back government proposals on clarifying parliamentary privilege, and even now won’t be straight with the electorate about whether or not one of its biggest donors pays tax in the UK.

So then Amber, put your campaign budget where your mouth is. Are you receiving funding from Lord Ashcroft’s businesses? And can you guarantee that the deputy chairman of the Conservative Party is a UK taxpayer?

The reality is this: people are much less interested in what sort of campaign the parties are going to run (although, incidentally, I too am in favour of a policy-driven election debate) and are much more interested in the credibility of a party’s message, and the contract that they will have with the politicians they elect (after they have booted out the ones that they have come to loathe).

My pledge to the people of Hastings & Rye is about the kind of MP that I am determined to be.

My pledge is comprised of three main points – first, I will always publish a full set of accounts; second, I will always rent the accommodation I require in London (rather than, through the expenses system, purchase or maintain a property which might accrue a capital gain); and I will not employ members of my family on my staff.

The General Election campaign in Hastings & Rye will be tough, and rightly so. It will be tough because people are angry with politicians, and they are angry with a Labour Government that has failed to deliver a fairer society.

As someone who works in mental health care, I am unspeakably angry that rates of inequality in our country have risen under Labour, and that we see the lowest earners paying a higher proportion of their incomes in tax than the richest.

This Labour Government needs booting out of office for all the promises that it has broken, and the hopes that it has dashed.

Labour has forgotten its value-base; and, Mrs Rudd, when it comes to fairness, the Tories are rudderless.

So, if it’s not un-chivalrous to say so, you are right to be a little nervous about the General Election.

Our electoral fate is in the hands of the people of Hastings & Rye.

In the meantime, there is everything to play for – and as much to expose.

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