I WANT to start by paying tribute and expressing my heartfelt condolences to the family of Gurmail Singh. He was a hugely respected member of the community in Huddersfield.
The way that people locally came to his aid, and the way the community have come together subsequently, is a tribute to Huddersfield. I know the police are doing all they can to bring the perpetrators to justice in this case and that our communities cannot and will not be broken by such awful actions.
As readers of the Examiner will know, the choice that is made at the forthcoming election will have a profound impact on every family, school, and business in Huddersfield and the surrounding area.
I am delighted to have the opportunity to set out my vision of how we can build a future fair for all in Huddersfield.
Our path is one where access to medical treatment is tailored to your personal needs, where every community has a Sure Start children’s centre and where we continue to take tough measures to drive down crime and anti-social behaviour in our communities.
But all these achievements are under threat from a Conservative party, which I’m sorry to say, appears to have learned nothing from the policies which left a generation of Yorkshire folk without jobs or hope during the damaging recession of the early 80s.
The Conservatives want to scrap Yorkshire Forward, the agency that guarantees housing, transport and business investment in key West Yorkshire projects.
Their plans would place at risk projects including the £6m plan to redevelop Huddersfield Waterfront putting at risk the 1,200 jobs that will rely on this project.
All I ask is that people take a second look at what Labour is doing for West Yorkshire and take a long hard look at what the Conservatives would do.
The Conservatives refuse to back our guarantees to young people, and their Swedish school reforms would be costly and harm standards here in Kirklees. They would allow schools to be built in rented office blocks while shelving expectations on school facilities, the curriculum and teacher training.
They would cut children’s tax credits for thousands of middle income families in Kirklees, while at the same time giving a £200,000 tax giveaway to the 3,000 richest estates
Of course I understand how difficult the past 18 months have been for hard-working families. We took tough action to protect savings and home owners, but it’s been through the resilience and sacrifices of ordinary people that we can look forward to a fairer and more prosperous future – if we take the right decisions now.
I know people will want that recovery to be based on fairness. And it’s why we have introduced a 50 per cent tax on bank bonuses, and have invested in jobs and training for our young people. There will be tough choices in spending, but we will protect the frontline services that people in Huddersfield and in places like Holmfirth and Meltham cherish.
The path I want us to take is one of a sustainable economic recovery, where everyone – including the bankers – contributes a fair share; where we cut the deficit while protecting the NHS, schools, Sure Starts and police that we all rely on. In the NHS, it will bring access to GPs closer to people’s lives and guarantee that you will be seen by a specialist within two weeks if you have suspected cancer.
At this election, rebuilding trust in our politics will be a big issue on the doorstep. I too was shocked at the excesses revealed in the MPs’ expenses scandal. So we proposed to breathe new life into our political system by giving voters the right to recall their MPs, reform the Commons and Lords and give the public the chance to choose a system of fairer votes.
So today I am calling on people in their communities, schools and hospitals, all those who believe in fairness and a shared future, to join together in a new progressive movement for change. It’s a return to politics at the grass roots, where apprentices, nurses, anti-poverty and climate change activists, can make their voices heard.
The choice at this election is stark. People in Yorkshire don’t need me to remind them of the failed Conservative policies of the past.
With its proud cultural and industrial heritage, vibrant retail districts, and skilled workforce, there should be no stopping Huddersfield in building a fair future for all with Labour.