• My argument with Nick Clegg

    Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 20.36.57Yesterday I took part in the only debate Nick Clegg has agreed to do in Sheffield Hallam. It’s a shame that Nick Clegg doesn’t feel the same passion for sharing a platform in his own constituency as he does for the national debates, where he’s been scathing at David Cameron’s unwillingness to participate.

    Still, it was important that the other candidates and I had at least one opportunity to challenge him about his record in office.

    I thought I might be overawed by the Deputy PM or enchanted by his legendary charm but in the end his wilful blindness to the problems facing us because of his Government’s policies just made me angry. I wish I’d said more and not allowed him to repeat the same falsehoods over and over again.

    From his home in Putney, Nick Clegg believes that Sheffield is flourishing. But I have to disagree.

    Just this week, I have spoken to a local GP whose surgery is losing £100,000s in funding and faces closure, local schools who are having their budgets slashed and, at the School Gate yesterday morning, a plea for extra donations of food from a mother who volunteers at a nearby food bank.  There are so many people, a third of them children, who can’t afford to eat that the charity has run out of supplies. These are not the signs of a “recovery”, these are the signs of things going terribly terribly wrong.

    As I pointed out to Nick Clegg, it’s impossible to know what’s going on, if you don’t live here.

    Time and again in the debate, the LibDem and Tory candidates argued that, because of our national debt, we have to make painful cuts.  But of course, the national debt (high as it is) was never the cause of our economic problems, nor is austerity the solution.  That deception has been exposed numerous times – here by Oxford Professor in Economics, Simon Wren-Lewisin the Huffington Post, and by the New Economics Foundation but the Coalition clings on to the myth faithfully. It helps them justify their savagery towards our public services.

    We have to tackle the debt, but the debt as a percentage of GDP was coming down until the Financial Crisis when we were forced to bail out the banks. Since 2010, our National Debt as doubled. The Tory/ LibDem policies are not working. What’s more the Coalition’s policies are undermining our ability to tackle or avoid the same problems in future.

    If we keep going this way, the Government will have inflicted irreparable harm to the NHS, education, our police forces and our local councils.

    We have to stop the cuts and start investing. Only by rebuilding our economy can we afford to pay off our debts and have the public services that make all our lives better.

    It’s time Westminster listened to us. I hope they hear loud and clear on 7 May.

    See for yourself – you can watch the video of the whole debate on the Sheffield Star’s website

  • What would you like to say to Nick Clegg?

    2042109820Tomorrow I will be debating with Nick Clegg about the forthcoming General Election.

    In the only local debate that Clegg has agreed to attend, myself and the other candidates will have a chance to answer questions from the people of Sheffield.

    Sadly, it’s not open to the public but it will be reported live on Twitter (@SheffieldStar) and later the whole debate will be published online.

    You can can find out more on the Star’s website.

    In the meantime, what would you like me to say to Nick Clegg?

  • Education Question Time in Sheffield

    Sheffield EQT flier 4As the General Election looms, there are more and more opportunities to hear what each of the candidates have to say.

    The NUT has organised a Question Time event here in Sheffield Hallam to talk about education. Having spent most of my career working in education, it’s a subject close to my heart.

    Our ability to thrive as a modern, successful economy depends on a well trained workforce. Sheffield hospitals rely on trained nurses, and the steelworks rely on qualified engineers. Simply put, better education and training leads to a more engaged workforce in all sectors of our economy.

    But more than that, learning (in all its guises) is, in and of itself, a good thing.

    Education translates into personal fulfilment, a stronger, more prosperous and understanding society; cultural richness, greater creativity and innovation.

    I’ll be very happy to talk about these issues with the candidates standing on behalf of the Westminster Parties.  It’s an open invite. Please join us.

    The event takes place on Tuesday 24 March between 6 and 7pm at High Storrs School, S11 7LH. You can book your place through Eventbrite.

  • Martin Bell reflects on my Independent campaign in Sheffield Hallam

    martin_bell

    Trying to be an Independent MP is a brave or foolish thing, depending on your perspective.

    Tomorrow (Monday) morning on BBC Radio Sheffield you can listen to Martin Bell consider my chances as I take on LibDems and other Westminster Parties in Sheffield Hallam. The piece will air at 7.20 and again at 8.20am.

    Brave or foolish, if you care about something, you have to do something, don’t you?

  • Out and about

    carlton reeveEach week we’re meeting more and more people in Sheffield Hallam. Again today our growing band of supporters will be delivering flyers across the constituency.

    From Worrall to Totley, I’ve been surprised at how much people want to talk about their concerns to me, a ‘politician’. And I haven’t been at all surprised to hear how disillusioned they are with party politics.

    People want change.

    And people are embracing our campaign to see that change happen. A man we met in Worrall said “I didn’t know who to vote for. I do now. I’m going to vote for you.”

    People who care, want to make a difference.

    Please get in touch if you want to part of what we’re trying to do.

    See you in streets of our neighbourhood!

  • The need to be heard and understood

    Today, I joined Carlton in speaking to the people of Sheffield about what matters to them. We spoke to 38 Degrees volunteers petitioning to save the NHS, and we chatted to people in Stannington too. It was absolutely clear to see how much people feel let down by politicians, and in many cases, powerless to do anything about it. Speaking to the local business owners in Stannington, we heard time and time again how unrepresented they feel, how much politicians don’t understand the needs of normal people. They were speaking about all politicians, regardless of what party they stand for. We heard about how cuts have affected their lives and how the VAT increase affected their business. We spoke to hard working people who love their city, but want to see and feel a system that is fair for all, at every level.

    A problem that was raised by many was the lack of community – of young people having no where to go, and the destitution that they are facing. Shop owners mentioned youths hanging around outside their shops with no future, and nothing to lose if they turn to a life dependent on benefits, or worse, crime. They highlighted the massive structural problem that needs to be addressed in our country. The need to enforce a welfare state that is fair, but encouraging people who can work to want to be self sufficient instead. But in order for this to happen, viable jobs have to be invested in. This is an absolute necessity for the future of our country.

    If nothing else, what was clear to me today is that people need to be listened to, that is what is really important. Right now, they are angry and want to be heard, and it was great to have the opportunity to listen.

    The benefit of voting for Carlton as an independent is that not only can he listen, but he is free to support only the logical policy suggestions for Hallam, and this can be on a policy by policy basis. He isn’t tied to any party, he only represents the views of the people in his constituency. For me, I suggest that is undoubtedly an alternative worth fighting for.