17 Partridge Road
The most important feature of the MP’s job is to make the case for the constituency to government.
In recent years, hundreds of millions of pounds have been put into rebuilding and renewing our schools, our hospital and community health services. And, after a hard fought battle to secure the funding, Metrolink is on the way to Ashton and through Failsworth to Oldham at last.
It has been rewarding to be able to go around the constituency and see the results of all that lobbying on the construction sites and in new buildings that are springing up all over the area.
I have seen myself as a locally based campaigning MP. My staff team all work in my local constituency office where we have given priority to advice work with more than 2,000 cases taken up on behalf of constituents every year.
In Parliament I have spent most time working on the committee corridors, focussing on the less glamorous, but important role of holding the government to account through the Select Committee system.
As a member of the Public Administration Committee I have been involved in pressing for reform of the House of Lords, tighter control of lobbying and for higher standards of conduct in parliament.
The 64-year-old has been MP for Ashton since 2001, the first time he stood, and was an Oldham councillor before that for 12 years. He is married with two children and has lived in Failsworth for more than 40 years.
If our committee’s proposals had been acted on sooner, many of the problems which have so damaged the reputation of parliament could have been avoided. Personally, I was pleased to come through this difficult period with my reputation intact as the in depth audit of MP’s expenses found that I had “no issues”.
When necessary, I have been willing to act independently, for example by voting against the Iraq War and the creation of Foundation Hospitals.
Sometimes I hear people say that it makes no difference who you vote for. A look back over the last 13 years reveals the truth. Just take the waiting list for operations. In 1997, under the Tories, here in the North-West, nearly 50,000 people had been waiting more than six months.
Today, you can count that list on the fingers of one hand. The health service has been transformed under Labour.
Tens of thousands of new doctors, nursing staff and dentists, millions of pounds invested in new buildings such as Oldham’s new Christie cancer treatment centre and new community health centres, the first of which opened in Failsworth.
Hospital waiting lists have been slashed and nowadays virtually no one waits more than 18 weeks for treatment. Suspected cancer patients are seen within two weeks and will soon be guaranteed test results within another week.
Despite the global financial crisis Labour has continued to invest in health, education and the front line services so many people depend on. The evidence is all around us in our local communities.
Education spending has more than doubled since 1997 with thousands of new teachers and teaching assistants working hard to give our youngsters the best possible start in life.
The multi-million pound Building Schools for the Future programme is a guarantee that every secondary school will be rebuilt or refurbished.
The award-winning new Failsworth school was one of the first to be rebuilt and it’s no coincidence that the new school’s first full year saw the students achieve their best ever exam results.
The minimum wage and tax credits have boosted the income of many families.
Older people have benefited from pension credits, winter fuel allowances, free bus travel, swimming and eye tests and free TV licences for over 75s.
The basic state pension has risen more than 7 per cent above inflation and a million pensioners have been lifted out of poverty since 1997. And the law has been changed to link pension increases to earnings from 2012, restoring the link broken by Margaret Thatcher in 1980.
Labour has pledged to maintain all these improvements and, while more can and will be done to secure a better deal for pensioners and families, all of this will be at risk if the Conservatives come to power.
The Tories will rush to slash services and their policies will push us back into recession with millions of jobs lost. The Cameron Tory party pretends to have moved on from the Thatcher era but their election manifesto reveals their true priorities. They threaten to cut the early years care provided by Sure Start at the same time as promising a tax break for the families of the richest 2000 people who die each year.
They would raise the inheritance tax threshold to £1 million at a cost to the rest of us of around £2 billion a year.
They are also promising to give parliament the opportunity to repeal the Hunting Act which would see the return of fox hunting. And it’s not just the Tories who plan to roll back Labour’s gains. The Liberal Democrats too are pledged to cut Family Tax Credit and the Child Trust Fund which have benefited millions of families.
As we move into a challenging future, the Labour manifesto makes five clear promises to build on the progress we have made since 1997. We will:
n Secure the recovery and halve the deficit through economic growth, fair taxes and cuts to lower priority spending.
::Raise family living standards, keeping mortgage rates as low as possible; increasing tax credits for families with young children; providing new help for first-time buyers; and restoring the link between the state pension and earnings from 2012.
::Build a high-tech economy, supporting businesses and industry to create a million more skilled jobs and modernising our infrastructure with High-Speed Rail, a Green Investment Bank and broadband access for all.
::Protect frontline services, investing in policing, schools, childcare and the NHS, with a new guarantee of cancer test results within a week.
::Strengthen fairness in communities through an Australian style points-based system to control immigration; guaranteed education, apprenticeships and jobs for young people; and a crack down on anti-social behaviour.
The choice in this election is clear. A Labour Government will continue the task of rebuilding our economy and working to build a future fair for all.
A Conservative government’s priorities would be to slash public investment, putting the economic recovery at risk and returning us to the days of 15 pe cent interest rates, home repossessions and mass unemployment.
With the support and trust of the voters at this election I hope Labour can stop the Conservatives wrecking the achievements which are making such a difference on the ground here in places like Failsworth and right across Oldham.