Progress | Centre-left Labour politics

Letter from … Norwich North

I sit writing this after listening to George Osborne’s budget with my new baby girl sleeping nearby. Since I have had a child I worry even more about what the decisions being made today might mean for her in the next 20 or 30 years. Issues which were once a matter of high principle become ones of urgent personal concern.

Before I was pregnant I rarely needed the NHS, but when I did it was there, guiding me expertly through the first, second and third trimesters, and now into the so-called fourth. I did not hesitate to seek early scans, extra tests or pre-natal classes. I do not need to worry about whether I can afford an emergency visit to the GP. Five more years of a Tory government could change that. Even Margaret Thatcher did not privatise the Queen’s head and famously would not touch the NHS, but these current ideologues have unfinished business.

I have recently joined a local campaign to fight another piece of Tory quackery – their drive to academise every school. Academies under Labour were directed at schools who were failing our most disadvantaged children and which had failed no matter how much help they were given. Yet now, a school goes into special measures and no one in Whitehall bothers to look at why. Bam! The school is given to an academy chain without a single person, not a parent, child, staff member or local resident, having a say. Don’t get me wrong, it might be for the best, but there is no deliberation and no explanation. That is not an education system I would trust to send my child into.

So my fight to beat Chloe Smith has just got personal. I am seat number 67, and, if I win, Ed Miliband should have a majority of one (so the polling geeks tell me). No pressure then! One of Michael Ashcroft’s polls recently said Labour was ahead by one point in Norwich North. I joked at a recent fundraiser that I had never thanked a Tory peer at a Labour dinner before, but this time I wanted a glass raised to him.

We are on the final stretch and politics never meant so much, and yet for many people the practice of politics has never meant so little. I try and remind former Labour voters that this only benefits the elite. The more working people and the young stay at home, the more the wealthy and old get their way. So many people are resigned that this is the system, this is their destiny – for the rich to get richer while the poor get poorer.

It does not have to be like this – look at what we achieved before when we worked together. Suffrage for women, a National Health Service, the Equal Pay Act, a minimum wage, an equal age of consent. Every door I knock on I remember those Labour pioneers who sought to change the fate of working people and it keeps me going. One of our councillors does a little skip in the street when we mark down an ‘LLYL’. That keeps me going too. If you want to help us win that majority of one please email or donate at


Jessica Asato is parliamentary candidate for Norwich North

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Jessica Asato

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