On Saturday I was honoured to be selected as Labour’s PPC for Norwich North. A lot more people know of the local MP Chloe Smith following her train crash interview with Jeremy Paxman trying to explain the Government’s U-turn which Labour forced over the fuel duty increase.
To be honest, she was simply taking the rap for yet another omnishambles moment, but what I will be concentrating on is exposing Chloe Smith’s role in the Government’s failed economic policies.
The impact of the Tories’ ideologically driven cuts is already becoming clear in Norfolk. By 2015 it is estimated that 162 police officers and 45 PCSO’s will have been axed. Youth unemployment has increased by 353% and waiting lists for elective surgery have increased by 6%. Around 60,000 students have lost their EMA funding at the same time that Tory Norfolk County Council removed all funding for youth services. We’re yet to feel the real pain of cuts due to come online next year, such as the housing benefit cap for under-occupancy by one bedroom which will mean an immediate 14% cut for many claimants.
Like so many Government Ministers, Chloe Smith wields the axe in Westminster, but tries to pretend she’s on the side of local residents when she travels back to the constituency. My role over the next few years is to hold her to account for her lack of action. She pledged, for example, to save one of our vital community assets – the Silver Rooms – as soon as she was elected in 2009. Three years later and its future is looking more precarious than ever, with very little action from Smith. Or look at her supposed support for Norwich pubs – on the one hand Smith has given her support, on the other, she has failed to stop the beer duty increase which is threatening their survival.
Labour’s case locally is a good one, but the challenge, as with so many of our marginal seats, is to get the message out to residents. That’s why today I’m launching a fundraising appeal to raise £3901 – a pound for every vote in Chloe Smith’s majority. Please do donate, even if it is a quid – every little helps, as they say. And if you want to come to the Fine City, as Norwich is known, please do sign up for our campaign updates. I look forward to seeing you on the doorstep.
Jessica Asato is the Labour PPC for Norwich North