equality for furness

"I know only too well the pressure put on the vulnerable by this government’s assault of our wonderful NHS. I sat by my grandmother’s bedside in Furness General, as overworked staff performed daily miracles."

I’m sure many of you have been thinking about equality recently. This month an Oxfam Report was published, telling us that twenty-six people earn the same as the poorest 50% in the world, sickens and angers in equal measure. I hope many of you will remember this the next time a Tory tells you that Labour’s costed economic plans to support public services are unsustainable. Ordinary people, with aspirations to succeed, have their economic champion in the Labour Party – the Conservative cabinet, their business partners, their relatives exist to prevent this collective success – they are the bagmen for the elite.

We must nail the lie, on the doorstep, that the Tories are the party of economic security. There is little evidence for it for the vast majority in this country. To think the Conservative model of ‘wealth creation’ is wrong doesn’t make you a Communist, doesn’t make you a dreamer, doesn’t make you unpatriotic. It makes you human.

I was reminded today of a quote from Bernie Saunders:

“To me, democratic socialism means democracy. It means creating a government that represents all of us, not just the wealthiest people in the country. “

Most Furness people support each other, sharing Labour values and understanding that unless we stop to support the disadvantaged in our society – it holds us all back and we demean ourselves. People will support our party if we state this with conviction. The only people we could possibly be dangerous to are that few percent… and their useful mouthpieces who do their bidding. They own much of the media. They pay little tax. A Labour government fills them with terror.

If anyone feels that this is rhetoric, over the top, or isn’t connected to our area, think again. Let’s focus on health:

The gap in the life expectancy between the most and least deprived areas in Cumbria is 9.5 years for men and 7.3 years for woman. If you are a man, living in Barrow Island, or Central, or Ormsgill or Hindpool, you are likely to live nearly a decade less than one in another part of the county.

One of my campaign team sorted out a Foodbank voucher last week for a single man in the Ferry Road area, who had no heating or food in his house. He had received nothing for three weeks – with the prospect of another fortnight without. We would halt the roll out of Universal Credit and the misery of leaving those without work without any money. Tory policies have always and still do target the weak to line the pockets of the rich few. Poverty brings isolation and loneliness, as Jo Cox said ‘loneliness doesn’t discriminate’. We must reach out and provide opportunities for those left behind.

Thank goodness for the wonderful staff at the Foodbanks in Furness – with the help of the rest of their community, they are keeping people from starving. In 2019. We have serious pockets of deprivation cheek by jowl with high investment all over the area. That cannot be right – nor can the idea that charitable organisations are being asked to fill in for public services. Cuts to the council budget must be stopped and local councils allowed to raise money in more creative ways to support the communities we all serve.

I know only too well the pressure put on the vulnerable by this government’s assault of our wonderful NHS. I sat by my grandmother’s bedside in Furness General, as overworked staff performed daily miracles. I am hugely proud to be the brother of a nurse, who under Labour was able to train with a bursary and now repays that training. Labour would return those bursaries the Tories stole – another reason why it is Labour, not Conservative, that supports the aspirations of those who wish to serve their community. They would scrap the pay cap and give our NHS workers the pay they deserve. It can be paid for – more trained nurses would halt the torrent of money flowing out of the county to agency staff who expensively plug the gaps. Again, Conservative policy making no financial sense at all.

I see daily our unsung heroes, who work in home care, fight to give my mum a reasonable quality of life in her home, with more tasks for less money, in less time. Labour will ensure they are paid a fair wage for their efforts, not hived off to private contractors as slaves on gig economy contracts. We will lay the foundations for a National Care Service. We must. The crisis in mental health funding in Furness, particularly for children. Again, let’s train those who work in mental health locally, through a Furness University, with proper bursaries and opportunities.

Anyone who works in a school locally, will tell you that the lack of school nurses and health visitors is a huge issue, often for our very youngest children and their families. Early intervention by Health professionals, working alongside schools and social workers, is key.

Health inequality is a huge issue in our rural areas also. No account is being taken by central government of the size of the area doctors are being asked to cover. On the campaign trail, we heard from a lady in Kirkby, who explained she could only access a doctor two days a week. What can you do until your exhausted G.P arrives? What happens if your condition worsens and you don’t have access to transport? This is a problem throughout the constituency and once again, places such as Broughton, Great Urswick and Swarthmoor are bearing the brunt. A blue light hub will help, but public health must be proactive as well as reactive.

If you’ve got this far, thank you for reading my thoughts. We are constantly told that we can’t afford to support the vulnerable. Read the news and think of the Oxfam report. We cannot afford not to. To support equality, in our constituency, we must put our message across with confidence. We must be resilient, resourceful and compassionate. We must be Labour.

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Promoted by Christopher Altree – 5 Middlecliff, Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, LA14 4EH

© Christopher Altree 2019