Turn Brighton Kemptown red!

Lloyd Russell Moyle is the Labour candidate for Brighton Kemptown and Peacehaven – which in 2015 the Tories won by only 700 votes. He spoke to The Clarion about the campaign so far.

The selection process was not as democratic as any of us would have liked, but in the end most candidates who put their name in the hat declared publicly and there was some public discourse online amongst the members about the candidates.

Whilst members were denied the normal democratic process, at least we had some discussion in the membership, which I think meant members feel more encouraged to campaign.

The campaign has been fantastic. On Sunday 7 May we had about 100 people out over the day. The key issue for us is turnout. In our three Labour held wards the turnout was low (under 50%) in the last general election, compared to the Tory wards where turnout was over 60%. We need to get across the message that turning out to vote will mean something.

The feeling on the doorstop has been positive. It will be a hard slog knocking on every door. As with many constituencies we have a diverse population. There is a range of issues across the constituency, from a UKIP vote in the east to a mobile student population in the west. We have an enthusiastic campaign team and the backing of a variety of unions who have mobilised to support us.

There are two main concerns amongst voters. One is the education cuts, which are of course a national issue  — we have been using the data from the School Cuts website (schoolcuts.org.uk), that has been going down very well (or indeed badly!) on the door step.

People know about these cuts. Headteachers have been writing to parents. We used to have four state secondary schools in the constituency but one was shut down. The remaining two have turned a corner recently but are now facing over £500,000 cuts each. That’s the equivalent of about 20 teachers! But they will cut a mixture of teachers and support staff, so there could perhaps be more than 20 jobs going. This is unfathomable for many parents who know what good work the staff in these schools do.

These cuts are devastating for schools who are serving some of the poorest students in our constituency. A constituency which already has the third lowest university (UCAS) application in England.

The other main concern is the NHS. We have a hospital, mental health trust, ambulance trust and CCG, which are all in special measures. Seven GP surgeries have shut in the last five years. There is a feeling that the health service is under huge pressure and strain. Health workers have been out campaigning for us every night.

Every now and then we will get one person who says they don’t like Jeremy Corbyn, but in 2015 we had about one person a day who said they didn’t like Ed Miliband — it’s probably the same person! There are always some who don’t like the leader.

We are running a local campaign against an unpopular Tory who was kicked out of his Brexit role in the government. He promised to save our health service and look at what’s happened. He promised to push to rebuild our seafront which is crumbling away, and nothing has happened.

If we win the election I think a Labour Government should make housing a priority. It should take a 1945 government approach to housing – treat it as a national priority. In Brighton we have 20,000 people, almost 10% of the adult city population, on the social housing waiting list – this cannot continue.

It’s not just about encouraging councils to do more about it, but instructing councils that they must do it, and giving councils the money for it. We should also build in such a way that every community absorbs social housing, so communities are diverse, rather than social housing being geographically isolated.

The NHS should also be a priority. We should write off PFI debts immediately and bring in-house all private for-profit providers. This will save resources in the long run.

How do we do that? We tackle corporation tax, and close the loop holes. We barely tax people at the highest levels. We need to be less ashamed about saying that if you are the richest in society you should pay back that gift that you have been given — wealth. It is often not something people have worked hard for — it is often handed down, inherited. I don’t begrudge them personally but wealth needs to be shared fairly.

A better taxation system that is harder to get round and is enforced. Use it to pay for homes, health and schools.

Let us know what you think? Write a reply? theclarionmag@gmail.com

Get involved in Lloyd’s campaign here.

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