We do not need to divide the country to get through difficult times

by Helen Godwin Teige

Ed Miliband came to Bristol on Saturday, so I, my husband. our two toddlers and my sister went along to see Ed and listen to what he had to say. He did an ‘on the stump’ speech and answered questions from members and non-members who had gathered in the busy St Nicholas Market in Bristol.

I am pretty sure Ed won some votes for both himself and the Labour party on Saturday. He took questions on everything from mental health, vocational qualifications, and the bedroom tax to legalisation of drugs and Trident. Bristolians are an understated bunch but they know what they are interested in and we felt Ed answered each question well; he listened, gave real and honest answers and didn’t sound as policy light as the press are desperate for him to be.

He was here on the back of the local elections but there were key things that he mentioned that I think Labour need to drill down into and build deeper policies

1. Mental Health

The stigma of mental health needs to end. The increase in dementia cases means this is on the agenda in a big way but mental health affects all ages and  is a vast subject requiring more research, treatment and occupational health. We need to take the lead in accepting people with mental health problems and ensuring their place in society is understood and valued.

2. Apprenticeships and vocational training

I asked Ed about the 50% of teenagers who aren’t going to go to university. What will the Labour Party offer them? He mentioned bringing vocational training back to schools and colleges and working closely with employers. His pledge that no government contracts would be given unless apprenticeships were guaranteed is important and relevant. We need to build on this.

3. Renewable energy, this is important in the South West as this sector already provides numerous jobs but we need further investment and the link between a green economy and growth has to be strengthened. The Conservatives have lost interest in the green agenda, we can support this sector and champion the job creation and environmental benefits.

4. Unemployment and the benefits system.

The Labour party has to take ownership of this issue and very quickly. Anyone who is anywhere near the left of politics is feeling asphyxiated by the campaign of hate that this government and the British press is waging against the poorest and most vulnerable in this country.

We have to be strong and talk about the facts, those people who are not in work and can work have to take opportunities that are offered to them.  We need a growing economy to do this. The welfare budget is spent primarily on pensioners and the disabled or helping those earning low wages. Introducing a Living Wage and Jobs Guarantee can reduce the welfare budget without attacking those that need state support.

All of these policies are about hope and improvement. It can be done. We do not need to divide the country to get through difficult times, by working together and working hard we can grow the economy whilst ensuring, just as we would in our own families, that those who need help at any given moment of time, are able to get it.

Helen Godwin Teige is a Labour party campaigner

Tags: , , , , , ,

3 Responses to “We do not need to divide the country to get through difficult times”

  1. Nick says:

    Dark in there isn’t it?

    if you don’t take your head out and look around you won’t get to see what’s the real problem.

    The problem is the debt. Not the headline debt, but the debt arisen when you spent people’s retirement money.

    Under Blair and Brown the pension debt went up by 736 bn a year (ONS figures).

    That can’t be paid, and you need to wake up to the consequences of their decisions.

  2. Clr Ralph Baldwin says:

    The hilarious part of this sad article is that most of these things that Ed has mentioned are already being or have been implemented by the current Government, and isn’t it fascinating on welfare how he condemns the “campaign” against the poor and vulnerable when it is very clear “taking ownership” means doing exactly what Ed did in his first Conference speech, which is place the tax payer before the needs of a disabled person.
    The man is a clown I’ll give him that, my baby nieces could come up with better 🙂 and as Nick says above, passing on debt to the next generation is all too Labour, grab a grand today if you in with the rich Left cronies, you’re screwed if you work for a living. Meanwhile the tax threshold goes up to defend poorer workers and Labour has nothing to offer.

  3. uglyfatbloke says:

    Well, Ed is just another wealthy careerist from a privileged background; a sort of Blair-lite.
    Ed took questions on drugs did he? How did he explain his preference for giving a multi-billion pound industry to criminals? Did he tell you it’s so that he can get some good write-ups in the Mail and the Express? Did he tell you that it’s OK to deny cannabis to sick people who need it for their MS/pain control/insomnia/preventing loss of appetite after chemo-therapy? Did he tell you that personal civil liberty and the privacy of your own home is unimportant? Did he explain that making the pot-laws more stupid was more important to Brown than winning the last General Election? A million people who would otherwise have voted Labour stayed at home; a million votes that would have kept Cameron and Osborne out of government.

Leave a Reply