It is vital for Labour that we are out speaking to the country on the key issues affecting people in the run-up to the 2015 election. Whether on energy prices, taking on the vested interests in the media or in banking, Ed Miliband’s One Nation Labour is making the running.
The childcare crunch facing families is one of the key battleground issues as we head to election 2015. I’ll be touring our marginal seats campaigning on childcare and setting out Labour’s bold policies to help ease this problem. The Tories have no plans to reduce costs for parents in this parliament and we’ve seen a reduction of 35,000 childcare places, 578 fewer sure start centres and nursery costs rising 30 per cent since May 2010 at a time when tax credit support has been cut and wages have stagnated. This is a triple-whammy childcare crunch of David Cameron’s making and he has no answers to deal with this issue.
Childcare is just one of a host of policies we now have to sell to the electorate to win in 2015. Labour’s energy freeze and business rate cut would make a real difference for the country. Guaranteed wraparound childcare before and after school through our primary childcare guarantee and an extension of free childcare from 15 to 25 hours working parents with three- and four-year-olds will tackle the cost and availability of childcare. We must continue to take the fight to the Tories on issues that resonate in everyday life.
I know from the seat I represent that we must also reach out to those switched off and disaffected if we are to broaden the coalition for change in this country. As part of Labour’s people’s politics inquiry I’ve been speaking to non-voters and it is vital we reach out beyond our comfort zone to talk to people who have become switched off from politics. The Tories don’t speak for the disaffected. They target and marginalise people even further – young people hit by a youth unemployment crisis, disabled people disproportionately hit by the bedroom tax and other cuts and women bearing the brunt of austerity more than men are all examples of Tory divide-and-rule tactics.
Being big and bold in our politics is a lesson that I’ve learnt from talking to groups in my constituency as part of the inquiry. Marginalised groups in politics, whether that be young people or BME groups such as the Chinese population in my constituency, are intensely political once you scratch the surface. They are just switched off from party politics. They want to see politicians rooted in their communities, on their doorsteps and engaging with them about the issues that affect their lives. Their politics is about people, and so is mine. These groups view politicians as all the same and unable to relate to them. Their plea ifs for a community politics that makes a difference on their doorstep and down their street and is a challenge that Labour is beginning to grasp with the work of Arnie Graf and Movement for Change and seen in our campaigning on the living wage and against the payday lenders.
But reaching out and changing our politics also means getting a more representative politics. We must do better on recruiting more women and BAME candidates and that is why it is great that our event tomorrow evening is with Chinese for Labour. The Chinese community in Manchester play a fantastic part to life in the city; they are enterprising and industrious. It is fantastic that we have Rebecca Blake standing in the Frontline 40 seat of Redditch and Sarah Owen, also standing in a target seat, Hastings and Rye, but as a party we must always seek to do more.
The country needs a Labour victory to stop the decline we’re seeing today. I’ll be on the doorstep campaigning for a Labour majority in 2015.
Lucy Powell MP is shadow minister for childcare and children and a vice-chair of Progress. She tweets @LucyMPowell, and is speaking tomorrow evening at Campaign for a Labour Majority: How can Labour win a mandate in 2015? with Chinese for Labour. See here for more details and to sign up
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