The Labour Party sent one of its highest profile MPs to boost support for its candidate in a crucial seat at the looming local elections.
Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry spoke to members at Almondbury Working Men’s Club before joining in with canvassing in the area.
Kirklees Labour is hoping to gain a seat in Almondbury at the council elections in six weeks time with candidate Louise Peace.
Incumbent Lib Dem councillor Linda Wilkinson is retiring after 14 years.
Labour needs to gain just two seats at the May 3 elections to have full control of Kirklees Council.
It targeted Almondbury at the last elections in 2016 following a surprise win in the former Lib Dem stronghold a year earlier.
But candidate Ken Lowe narrowly missed out to the Conservatives with Bernard McGuin toppling Lib Dem Phil Scott.
Visiting the borough just days after council tax bills featuring 6% increases landed on people’s door mats, Mrs Thornberry told the Examiner it was her job as an opposition frontbencher to fight for more resources for Kirklees Council.
And she backed the ruling cabinet’s determination to stay in control to take difficult decisions in a bid to protect the most vulnerable.
“What the government has done is they have decentralised blame,” she said. “They’re cutting back the money that goes to councils.
“Understandably communities are angry at the local councillors who they see and they’re angry at them.
“But it’s really not their responsibility, it’s central government.
“It’s a question of how do we work out the finances, who is being taxed, how much, is it fair, and are communities like Almondbury getting the support that they deserve – no they’re not.
“MPs can make a difference – we need to be putting forward amendments to finance bills to make sure the richest are being taxed properly, that corporations are paying proper tax and we re-distribute that wealth to poorer areas such as this.”
Asked if she thought there was any merit in the argument that Kirklees Council could have spent its money more wisely, she commented: “I would like to see any other organisation cut by 50% and see how it does.”
She continued: “I think local authorities have done an amazing job, just to continue to be upright quite frankly.
“They’re doing well just to continue to collect the bins when they get 50% cuts over seven years
“We have a crisis in local government like we’ve never seen before.
“We’ve got councils going bust.
“People are expected to pay more in council tax and yet they’re seeing less for it – it’s not right and it’s not fair.
“The task for us is to get out to people and explain what the reality is – we are being cut to the bone.
“We cannot have elderly women being held in bed until lunch time because there are not the carers there to help them get up in the morning.
“In the end it’s wrong, it’s not fair, you wouldn’t want that to happen to your mum.
“If you don’t support a vulnerable family the kids will go into care. If a child doesn’t have a decent childhood what will they be like when they grow up?
“In the end you have to do the right thing.”
Asked about the alleged Russian spy poisoning, Mrs Thornberry said she broadly agreed with the government’s plan and was not calling for a boycott of the World Cup.
“I think there are more effective things we can do,” she said. “We should be going for dirty Russian money which is being washed through London.
“It’s about time we stood up to some of these Oligarchs and started asking questions about where they got their money from.
“And we should start making life a little less comfortable for the people close to Putin.
“We should be passing laws to make sure we tighten up on this – but then we need to apply them.
“There are laws that the Conservative government have already that they’ve not been using.
“Power is available to the government to take action and they’ve only done it once – don’t tell me there’s only one person in London with ‘unexplained wealth’.”
In her speech to local activists, Mrs Thornberry was asked how “she resisted slapping” her counterpart, Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson.
Asked by the Examiner what she would do differently, she said: “I hope I would be someone who would be working at re-establishing Britain’s standing in the world.
“That we would be a country that would be less arrogant, but more proud of ourselves and more truly confident.
“We would stand for something and try and be a force for good and not go around the world making jokes and insulting people and being desperate for a deal at any cost.”