The Choice in 2015


There is a revealing article in today’s press about how the Conservatives are hoping that wealthy backers pumping shed loads of money into constituencies will swing May’s election their way.

A few weeks ago they were inviting well-heeled supporters to what they described as an “intimate” lunch in the centre of Birmingham to hear how their money is being spent to do precisely that over here in Northfield. Sure enough, this week residents have seen seeing the latest paid-for Tory direct mail hitting their doorsteps. It paints a picture of a world where fiction is presented as fact. It’s a world where the bedroom tax doesn’t exist, where families don’t struggle with the bills and where working households don’t face poverty or use foodbanks. It’s a world where David Cameron and George Osborne are in touch with everyday life and nothing is ever their Government’s fault. It’s a world where posed photos on Party leaflets are a substitute for practical work representing constituents. And it is one where a wealthy candidate from elsewhere who buys a second property in the constituency is promoted as just another ordinary local resident.

I don’t think people in the Northfield area will be taken in. You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.

Neither Labour as a whole nor I as an individual can match the Tories wealth or promotional spending. Instead we focus on working in practice for local people, week in week out. Hopefully this Facebook page and my Parliamentary report gives people a flavour of that.

And when May 2015 comes, people in Northfield and elsewhere will make their choice. Whichever government gets in will have to make tough decisions. The difference will be the values that inform those decisions. For Labour those values mean investing in the homes people need, protecting the NHS and trying to give young people the future they deserve. No amount of promotional spending by the Tories can wash away the gulf that exists between their values and ours.

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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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