This is the eighth general election I have campaigned in – the last five as a Candidate so I know a little about the way they go. This one is not very different. The main difference is that we have known the date of the election for most of the past five years. This has meant that the pace of the preparations have been much more measured. Parties and candidates have had time to plan, time to write the leaflets and early dissolution means more time before the election to canvass.
I have been busy knocking on doors and discussing the election with residents all over the constituency. My thanks to all those who have taken the time to chat and my apologies to all those who I have called on at an inconvenient time! I am often asked how it is going and the truth is that you can ask ten people what is important to them and get ten different answers.
There are many people who are undecided. There are some who are switching to the Conservatives and some who are sticking with their previous party. Our message has been simple there is a choice between keeping on the road to recovery so we can live within our means. It is only be having a strong economy that we can afford strong public services. It is a straight choice between having David Cameron as Prime Minister or replacing him with Ed Miliband and Labour.
Last month I wrote to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles MP explaining the importance to Ramsbottom of the appeal against the decision by Bury Council’s Planning Committee to refuse the application to build an Anaerobic Digestion Plant at Fletcher Bank Shuttleworth. Today I have heard from the Minister for Local Government Kris Hopkins MP ( who has replied as being the matter falls within his Ministerial responsibilities) that he has decided to ‘recover the appeal’.
The Public Inquiry which is presently taking place in Bury will still proceed. The Inspector will still prepare a report and make a recommendation as to whether the appeal should be allowed. The matter will then be determined by the Secretary of State impartially and in light of all the facts.
One of the most frequent complaints I receive is from local residents complaining about the number of nuisance phone calls they get. I have been campaigning to try and improve things and this morning it looks as though the Government is to act.
At present the Information Commissioner has to prove that there has been substantial distress caused which has been a high threshold to establish, meaning a lot of Companies could get away with it. If reports are correct this threshold is to be reduced meaning it will be easier to obtain prosecutions against those who flout the law,
The latest figures for the number of unemployed in Bury show another fall. Depending on what statistics you look at it is down 40 or 50% since the last General Election. What there can be no doubt about is that unemployment has fallen since 2010.
With inflation falling to zero point five per cent millions of workers are starting to feel better off. Of course Labour will continue to claim things are not getting better but increasingly people realise they are getting better and even if they have not benefitted personally yet they know they will soon. If we go back to Labour we will put at risk all the hard work of the last five years. More spending. more borrowing and more debt is not the answer to the nations problems. It sounds great to claim all our problems can be solved by taxing a few big houses in London but there is no easy answer.
The country must live within its means and that means sticking with the Conservatives
As the long campaign ahead of the general election on 7th May gets underway there will be countless articles written about the pros and cons of each parties policies but the truth is that without a strong economy everything else falls by the wayside.
Since the coalition Government came to power nearly 5 years ago much has been done to improve the economic state of the country. For the first two or three years the opposition constantly complained that the Government were going too quickly. the claim that the Government was going ‘too far and too fast’ was repeated at every opportunity. Now strangely the opposition claim the Government have not gone far enough! If the Government had followed their advice we would not have made the progress we have.
We can debate which measure should be used to measure the progress made and whether the annual budget deficit has been cut by a third or by a half but what really matters is that the Conservative led Coalition Government have put the country back on the road to recovery. The choice before the Country on My 7th is whether to stay on the road to recovery with the safety and security that brings or turn back and risk chaos and confusion with the Labour Party who left the Country with such a huge budget deficit in the first place.
We should have today an official Command Paper published by the Government setting out the views of the Parties on how to end the current unfairness of Scottish MP’s ( or more accurately MP’s representing Scottish MP’s )being able to vote on matters on England but MP’s representing English constituencies can not vote on matters which affect Scotland. This is the product of the devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament. Sometimes it is referred to the West Lothian question as the problem was first highlighted by the MP for West Lothian.
It is clear there is no easy answer but the current situation is quite obviously inequitable and the sooner the nettle is grasped the better.