Full Name: Anneliese Dodds
From: Based in Reading. I was born in Aberdeen but have lived in the South East for the last thirteen years.
PPC for: Reading East
Selection Result: Never revealed by party officers when the selection took place.
Member of the Labour Party since: 1996
I am a lecturer and researcher within the University of London. My main research interests concern how public policies operate in different countries, and in particular how risk is regulated in different sectors and nations. I currently direct a research programme concerning how risk is managed within the NHS, and how this might be improved in practical ways. I have also researched changes to education systems in different countries, how to increase participation in local government, and policy approaches to social exclusion. My teaching covers the areas of comparative public policy, regulation, and research methods.
In addition to my teaching and research career, I have also worked as a volunteer in the charity and voluntary sectors (for Oxfam and what was then called ‘Third World First’, now People and Planet); as a weighbridge and lab assistant at a large agricultural plant; and in the catering industry.
I was inspired to go into politics because:
It was clear to me from an early age that the prospects of my peers were highly dependent on their families’ incomes. My first job was as a kitchen porter, and I was paid £2 an hour. I was lucky enough to know that this job was only temporary, and that I didn’t have to rely on it – but for others, these kinds of badly-paid, precarious jobs were the only future they expected. At that time, there was little help for those having difficulties in finding work, aside from the ‘Youth Training Scheme‘, an exploitative system which left one of my friends with an industrial injury.
I was also appalled by the closed nature of institutions like the one at which I studied for my first degree, Oxford University. I began working with others to persuade the University that it needed to do more to increase access for those who had the potential to do extremely well, if only they were given the chance.
I’ve been delighted to see that Labour has kept a firm focus, in Government, on increasing access to educational and training opportunities. It has done this at the same time as implementing protections for working people which have literally transformed lives.
My friends who used to have to struggle on poverty pay now receive a decent minimum wage (albeit one which is still challenging in the South East given our high housing costs). Many of them have been able to access education and training, even though they left school initially with few qualifications.
It is this kind of transformation of opportunity which is at the core of my support for the Labour Party.
My main policy interests are:
First of all, the economy. I’ve been pleased to see that Reading’s economy has been found to be the most economically dynamic in Britain, and one of the best placed to weather current economic problems. Nonetheless, more needs to be done to ensure that everyone benefits from this prosperity. In particular, we need more support for those who have traditional skills which cannot easily be transferred to our new boom areas of financial and IT services; and better quality help for those seeking work, particularly those young people who have been unemployed for a long time. In the long run, we need far smarter regulation, and a better resourced FSA, to do more to prevent systemic financial crises such as the one we are currently experiencing.
Secondly, criminal justice policy. I have been pleased to see the introduction of strong measures against anti-social behaviour and to protect the interests of victims, particularly in areas such as domestic violence and rape. However more needs to be done to ensure that neighbourhood policing delivers its promise across all our communities. I particularly want to see more done to shift drug addicts out of dependency, and to prosecute those who peddle in death when they sell drugs. I’ve advocated neighbourhood drugs summits being set up in Reading and Woodley to specifically focus on this problem. But I also want to see far more scrutiny of drug rehabilitation services, to find out whether they are delivering quality services – and to take action if they’re failing.
Thirdly, public services. As someone who works in higher education I’m well aware of the need for better coordination between schools and other educational and training institutions, so that children get the best possible start in life. Labour’s investment in early years provision has made a significant impact but we need to continue to target this area and to better join up children’s services across the fields of education, child care, health care and social services (where necessary).
Obviously, given that much of my research is currently focused on health this is one of my main policy interests. Although services have greatly improved over the last twelve years some problems nonetheless continue. This is particularly the case when it comes to health inequalities and a lack of accessible services, and the need to coordinate care better, both across and within health care institutions.
Finally, I believe that we need strong action now to combat climate change – more accurately described as the climate ‘emergency’. I support proposed changes to planning laws to make it easier to build windfarms and put in place other desperately needed infrastructural projects, and the Government’s commitment to getting a good deal out of Copenhagen (and leading the world with its binding carbon targets).
Nonetheless, we need to see far more radical change if we’re to stop the climate change that is already leading to some of the severest floods and droughts in history. The time has come to contemplate painful but necessary action like banning domestic flights, carbon targets for the public sector, and a massive step-change in investment in green technologies, if we are to face up to this challenge.
However, any such schemes must be realistic and fair. They must not involve hammering families with expensive green taxes. Instead, if they work properly, green measures should actually save people money by reducing waste, and should increase job opportunities.
Three things I think should be in the next Labour manifesto are:
1 – Stronger action against those MPs for whom representation of their constituency is only a part-time job. I support the implementation of Kelly’s report in full – but more needs to be done to clamp down on ‘moonlighting’ MPs who enjoy lucrative directorships.
2 – Stronger action to deal with the housing crisis. We need more powers for local authorities to build in situations of housing need, and a greater ability to root out rogue landlords and maintain the balance of housing between family homes and houses in multiple occupation. I have also campaigned for better regulation of park and mobile homes. Promised improvements in this area should be introduced as a matter of urgency.
3 – Increased support for green technologies, beyond even current record levels of investment in this area. This would deliver high-quality, sustainable jobs and, in the long run, help to reduce our energy dependency on other nations.
I think people should vote for me because:
I have been working hard for the people of Reading, Caversham and Woodley for almost three years as the Labour parliamentary candidate. During that time I have campaigned on a wide range of issues which local people have raised with me. These have included, amongst others: campaigns against cuts in social care, for better transport links, for action to be taken against rogue landlords, and for a tough programme to ‘clean up’ Parliament.
I believe that politicians should do far more to listen to and help their constituents. Unlike some other politicians who just go along with whatever their party in Westminster tells them to, I work hard to ensure that the policies and priorities I campaign for are the ones which matter to local people. I have always promised that, if elected, I would claim only the average Reading wage as a salary, and invest the rest in making sure that local constituents get the best possible service from their local MP.