So – bets are on that today’s the day when the date will be set for the general election! And that means people in Hornsey & Wood Green get their chance to cast their verdict not just on my promises for the future but also (for the first time!) my record as an MP.
So it seems appropriate to put up my latest column for the Muswell Hill Flyer and the Highgate Handbook – on what a privilege it’s been to be the MP for the last five years for the area where I grew up, went to school – and got married. And as you can see from the photo – sometimes it’s been tough to keep up with all the issues from residents!
I make it over 28,000 people I’ve helped – so a particular thank you too to all my staff over the years who have assisted. Thank you.
It’s been a privilege
It’s hard to believe that five years have already passed since I was elected Member of Parliament for Hornsey & Wood Green.
It has been a complete privilege and joy to serve this community. There have been so many battles to fight – great and small – standing up for local people. Even what may seem a small issue to others can be a major issue for those directly involved. And sometimes it has been the petty swipe of unfairness that is the wrong that needs righting.
Take the newspaper seller, Alex Chobur, who got fired by the distribution company for a newspaper for drinking water whilst at work. That is the sort of employment practice we should have left behind with the Victorians – but he contacted me and, with the help of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, we got the firm to change its rules to be rather more humane.
On a similar theme – making those in charge remember to put a little bit of humanity back into their behavior – I remember also the mother a paraplegic child who had waited five years to swap their flat, which had a long narrow staircase that the child had to be carried up and down, for a ground floor one. Time after time Haringey Council said it could not find a more suitable property – until I got the press involved and thanks to the magic of bad publicity what had been for years a “no” became a “yes”.
Sometimes (well quite often) it is Haringey Council driving people insane either by taking no notice of local people – over a planning issue, empty grit bins in the snow, potholes in your road deep enough to dive into – to the very serious issues of fair funding (or lack of it) for our children at Haringey schools or the dreadful events around failures in child protection. It is not chance that Haringey Council was assessed by the Comprehensive Area Assessment (the body that rates councils right across the country) as the worst council in all of London.
And don’t even get me started on the threat the Whittington A&E! Insanity!
The economy, however, dominates. Vince Cable (who wins all the polls on who people want to be Chancellor) is quite clear that we must address the horrendous deficit – but not before the recovery is sure. He is absolutely right to also say we must break up the banks so they are no longer too big to fail and able to gamble safe in the knowledge that if it all goes wrong – someone else will have to bail them out. Once but never again. Changing our financial system not only makes economic sense – but it is the fair course of action too.
The same applies to our plans to raise the income tax threshold to £10,000, taking millions out of income tax and putting an extra £700 in the pocket of the average working person. That would be paid for by closing tax loopholes and bringing capital gains tax in line with income tax – because that’s the fair way to put together a tax system.
I was driven into politics by the best of motives – to fight injustice and unfairness. But there is still so much to fight for and to battle against – which is why I hope my term in Parliament is but my first.