It’s been a lively but really interesting few weeks, full of visits and meetings, and with a strong and consistent presence in Sudbury town centre at weekends.
I’ve met with WASPI women (denied access to their state pensions), childcare providers unable to meet the unfunded demands on them set out by the Conservative government, representatives from the NFU very concerned about the impact of a hard Brexit on farmers (and consequently on the cost of food), and school leaders having to juggle budget cuts and recruitment problems. All of my visits and discussions have reinforced the need for a softer Brexit and investment in our public services – and demonstrated to me the commitment of local people to making Suffolk a vibrant and better place to live.
I and the CLP team have been buoyed by the response of local party members and supporters to the campaign. The turnout for our leafleting session in Sudbury last Saturday was the biggest yet. There’s been a constant stream of requests for posters, and so many offers of help. The publication of the Labour manifesto, with its vision for a different way of doing things, has clearly been not only refreshing for us as members, but a turning point for the public. People in the street are talking about issues, and acknowledging that things can’t carry on as they are, with Conservative proposals for older people being a particular talking point.
Theresa May called this election to deal with Brexit. Athough Brexit has featured in all three hustings debates and in conversation on the street, it has not been the main topic of discussion locally or nationally. This may be partly because of the horrific events in Manchester and London that have punctuated the campaign. But it is also because our public services have now reached a critical point, with cuts to, among others, school budgets and police numbers.
But Brexit does matter. It’s about our future. Yes, we need the investment in public services and infrastructure that is set out in the Labour manifesto, and we need that now. But as has been made absolutely clear to me during my visits in this campaign, our farmers, our services, and our young people need as good a deal as we can get, for our and their future. A second referendum isn’t a realistic option, so we need proper negotiations led by Kier Starmer.
We’re now in the final straight. I have a few visits left to do this week (including Hillside special school and Community Action Suffolk), and we plan to be leafleting at school gates as well as continuing to help Ipswich colleagues with their very strong – and we hope successful – campaign to elect Sandy Martin. Please do carry on with those one-on-one discussions, sharing messages on social media, and putting up those posters!
Every vote really does count.