It’s three days and counting till Election Day, and the Somerset Labour campaign machine has gone into overdrive. Across the county, Labour’s most extensive slate of candidates in history is poised for a frantic final push.
In areas the Tories and the Lib Dems usually take for granted, prospective Labour councillors are fighting to win – like Rowbarton & Staplegrove, Taunton, where charity worker Brenda Weston is leading the charge.
Brenda brings years of political experience to the table, having previously served as a councillor on both Taunton Deane District and Somerset County Councils, and she was at the forefront of the successful campaign to save Priorswood Library.
Core principles that put people and the planet first
“Councillors owe it to those they represent to ensure our money is spent wisely, fairly and transparently”, Brenda says. “Decisions should be based on core principles that put people and the planet first, ensuring that services represent the best social, financial and environmental value”.
But Somerset’s complacent parties have repeatedly shown that they don’t share these values. “At County Hall, the Tories and the Lib Dems have wasted public money. Our services – and our pockets – have suffered as a result. South West One is a costly shambolic experiment and we are paying for their unlawful action over the library closures. Cuts at waste recycling depots mean we pay twice to get rid of rubbish – often at inconvenient times – and pay for fly-tipping clearance.”
Tory-Lib Dem Coalition wreaking social and economic havoc
Meanwhile, at Westminster-level, a Tory-Liberal Coalition is wreaking social and economic havoc. “The Coalition’s response to the financial crisis isn’t just failing”, Brenda argues, “Their policies are hitting the most vulnerable the hardest. Plunging people into poverty pay and unemployment is no way to restore a healthy economy or build a strong and productive society”
Brenda is deeply concerned by the Coalition’s unwillingness to deal with unemployment. “Unemployment and the fear of unemployment is a blight on people’s lives and on local economies, and stores up problems for the future. At the same time the Tory/Lib Dem government is hell-bent on doing away with hard-won protections against unscrupulous employers, and making it more difficult for women to earn a decent disposable income.”
“Tory governments, notably that of Margaret Thatcher, always use unemployment as part of their industrial policy. It provides a ‘reserve army of labour’ – people who are forced to accept unacceptable pay and conditions or go hungry.”
For Brenda, Labour is the only party coming up with constructive ways of helping people through the stormiest economic waters we’ve seen in decades. “Ed Miliband’s idea of ‘living wage zones’ makes a lot of sense for Somerset. At the moment we are all subsidising employers who pay wages on which employees cannot make a reasonable life for themselves or their families. We need to look at tax incentives for smaller businesses to pay a living wage – an idea that would save money, increase taxable income, stimulate the economy and generate employment.”
Liberals betrayed Somersets trust
For years, hundreds of Somerset residents have blindly voted Lib Dem as an anti-Tory alternative. By joining the Tories in Westminster the Liberals have betrayed that trust. As much as they try and distance themselves from their Conservative bedfellows, the Lib Dems can’t offer a serious alternative to policies they have helped bring to Somerset.
In Rowbarton & Staplegrove, Brenda Weston is the only candidate who’ll challenge those policies, fight for the urgent political turnaround Somerset needs and do all she can to ensure County decisions put residents first.
On May the 2nd, vote Labour – the only real alternative to austerity.