Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Making My Vote Count, part 5

One day to go and I finally get some contact from three of my local candidates, I had to almost shame them into replying to me though. Late this morning my frustration boiled over and I sent an email to the five candidates who have still not replied to me. I told them all how disgusted I was by their silence and how they had done nothing to earn my vote. Well, surprise, surprise, three of the candidates replied to my email this afternoon.

I finally heard from The Green Party candidate, the Liberal Democrat and Labour candidates; but their answers were not anyway satisfactory.

The Green Party candidate sent me a short email were he blamed the troubles in the NHS due to the Conservatives running it down to make it ready to be privatised and sold off to “shadowy” city bankers. It read like a paranoid rant of a conspiracy theorist, not the discussion of a politician and he made no reference to any of his party’s policies. It was a strange and very immature email, I don’t know how it was supposed to persuade me to vote for him because he answered none of my questions

The Liberal Democrat candidate first said he hadn’t replied to me because he received a lot of emails from lobbying groups and so missed my email. I wasn’t happy with this, he was telling me he wasn’t well organised. How would he run an MP’s office if he cannot organise his own emails?

He emailed the text of an opinion piece he said he wrote for our local newspaper and which he said would answer my questions (I’ve searched the newspaper’s website and I can’t find this opinion piece. He didn’t say which edition it was published in either). Briefly, the opinion piece ran like this; first he warms NHS staff not to strike. Then he linked the shortage of staff to the rise in infant mortality rates in the UK. He said it is “not a budget problem,” then he proceeded to complain about the cost of agency staff in the NHS, implying that an agency nurse is paid £35 to £40 per hour for a shift in A&E. He blamed low pay on poor short and long term planning, and said the way forward isn’t national pay bargaining but local pay levels. He says as a politician “it is my duty to focus on solving the underlying problems of low pay, which is hurting both patients and nurses.” Yet he offers no solutions.

This opinion pieces does not answer any of the questions I raised with him. I felt very patronised and that he was fobbing me off with something he’d previously written, he could not be bothered to read my email and answer my questions. Is this the behaviour of a potential MP?

The Labour candidate emailed a scanned in copy of a letter that she said had been posted to me. The letter was scanned in upside-down and dated 5th June. As of today I have not received this letter.

Her letter did show that at least she had read my email. The first three-quarters of the letter was reflecting back to me the points and facts I’d raised in my email and agreeing with me, blaming the Tories for their policies towards nursing. It is nice to be agreed with but that wasn’t why I emailed her, I wanted to know what she would do to support nursing and the NHS. The last paragraph did contain what she was would do, she will campaign “to ensure a more secure, better future for our NHS and the nurses who work at the heart of it,” if she is re-elected.

That is a nice sentiment but her letter was very low on policies and political commitment. She said Labour would remove the pay cap on nurses and restore the bursary for student nurses. But I was hoping to hear more from her, she is our standing MP. She didn’t tell me what her voting record was and what local issues she has campaigned on, our local NHS has seen the close of services at our local hospital and seen walk-in centres closed since 2010.

The Conservative and Peoples Christian Alliance candidates still remain very quiet and I haven’t had any reply from either of them.

I do live in a very safe Labour constituency, is this lack of engagement due to this, the other candidates do not stand any chance of being elected so that they are barely campaigning and that the Labour candidate has already got the vote sown up. Or is this typical now of modern politics, a General Election is all about electing a Prime Minister and local politics are of no concern.

The basic MP’s salary is £74,962 (1). An election campaign should be were a politician works to show that they worth electing as our MP. So far none of these candidates have shown me they are worth a fraction of that salary, and tomorrow is the General Election.

I will vote tomorrow but none of these six candidates have shown me they are worth my vote.

Drew Payne

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