Many thanks to the organisers for setting up a really interesting and different kind of ‘Hustings’ debate event.
All the candidates, with the exception of the ‘LibDem agent’ (participating on behalf of his candidate) managed to keep to the ethos of the event, which was to remain positive at all times, and avoid criticising ‘the opposition’… if only all debates were so civilised !
My speech was as follows :
Good morning Ladies and Gentleman, members of SmethwickCAN
Firstly may I thank you for the opportunity to be able to participate in this event, which, even though almost certainly the elections in Warley, both local and Parliamentary, on the evidence of the local elections last May, will be contested largely between Labour and UKIP,
– has not always been provided to UKIP recently.
Secondly, I would like to thank the representatives from the other four parties contesting Warley for being present, which again has been fairly rare, although I do appreciate some have quite a distance to travel,
– I am very fortunate that my house is literally a stone’s throw from here (I could easily have walked, but probably much to the chagrin of my Green opponent, and I’m slightly ashamed to admit, I confess I still drove !)
So what is a ‘Good Society’ ?
I believe a Good Society in general terms, is one in which the weak, the poor, the elderly, the disadvantaged have provisions made for them to live the best life possible,
– one where opportunities are made available to every member of society to progress in whatever they wish to, are able to progress.
I would like to think that everyone here would agree that these should be some of the ‘main planks’ which make up a good, fair and caring society, the difference between us will be the way that we achieve this.
All the initiatives that are being raised and discussed are important, and will help to differing degrees to ease the many problems what we are experiencing in Warley, however to a certain extent they are addressing the ‘symptoms’ and not ‘the cause’.
We now have a million people using food banks, many in this area, yet we are being constantly told that unemployment is dropping, and our economy is doing well, I would suggest that the old adage ‘lies damn lies and statistics’ was never more apt.
Warley is has two major towns, Bearwood and Smethwick, both of which are in serious decline, and are heading down the same route as West Bromwich…. in danger of becoming ‘ghost towns’, with rows of boarded up shops, and the ones that do remain, being largely Charity shops, betting shops, Cash for… anything’, or pound/99p outlets.
I believe that the reason young people, people of all ages get involved in crime and activities that they shouldn’t, is because they feel that society is not offering them any alternatives, specifically they do not have good, secure, long term employment available in the area…
– the unemployment figures currently look good because of the plethora of part time, zero hours, low wage temporary jobs, which have been created, yes I will mention it, on the back of a huge wave of cheap labour, flooding in from Europe, largely eastern European countries.
This ‘flood’ is holding down wages, and making it very difficult for those that have live here for many years, have mortgages to pay for… to be able to compete…
– it is also putting enormous pressure on our public services, we have A and E missing targets, with the worst figures ever, Hospitals accepting only emergency patients because they have no beds, and many GP practices where it is nigh on impossible to obtain an appointment,
– over the next five years estimates suggest that population of the W. Mids may increase by 50%, yet at the same time, we have a survey this week which suggest 1 in 3 GPs are considering early retirement in the same period, 1 in 4 going part time, and 1 in 10 leaving the country altogether.
This is not ‘scaremongering’. It was 15000 person survey, a very ‘large sample’.
620,000 people came to this country in the last year recorded, the UK, particularly this region, is facing a crisis, particularly in terms of GP access, the like of which it has never seen before… fortunately 320,000 also left the country, but still a ‘net figure’ of nearly 300,000 extra people in the UK.
No one is disputing that migrants have over previous decades contributed massively towards the society we have today, that they have kept the NHS running, when it may well have failed earlier otherwise, it is indisputable. An accepted fact. However we have never in our history had to deal with the levels of migration, the enormous numbers of people coming here that we are currently experiencing, and which shows every sign of continuing to increase, not decrease.
Our services cannot be upgraded to cope fast enough, clearly we cannot train doctors and nurses fast enough, we will never be able to build houses quickly enough (one every seven minutes, just to keep up with migrant arrivals) will never be able to train sufficient teachers, build new schools,
– the situation is simply sustainable, particularly in areas where we do not receive all the extra funding that London does, and do not have the kind of huge business and financial services sector to provide employment for the ‘new arrivals’. It is simply not sustainable. And it is not ‘racist’ or ‘scaremongering’ to say so.
Returning to Warley specifically.
We need to work with employers to keep the businesses we do have here, and to do everything we can to bring new ones in.
We need to ‘join the dots’ better … between schools and colleges, and employers,
– we need to make sure that young people coming out of school or college have the skills that employers desperately need,
– we need to have the right courses in colleges, more apprenticeships, we need to do everything we can to bring employers and people of all ages in the region together.
Successful, prosperous businesses will have a knock on effect in all areas of society, will help reduce poverty, crime, and all the other problems which are inevitably associated with low income, in some cases benefit-dependent communities.
We need all the many different communities of Warley to work together, I am proud to say that in the seven local wards which make up this constituency, UKIP will have three Sikhs and a Muslim gentleman standing for council in May, in a fifth, a lady from South Africa…
– I am even more pleased that in the three Smethwick wards, represented by two Sikhs and a Muslim for UKIP respectively,
– I am working with them, supported strongly by the local people, to try to bring a large store back to the town centre, now that Tesco Metro has closed, a closure which is having a knock on, very detrimental effect to almost all the surrounding shops and small businesses.
I believe this a model for taking Smethwick, Bearwood and Warley in general forward, cross-faith, cross-community teams, working together for a cause which they all believe in,
– working to bring prosperity back, and by doing so, helping to remove the need for food banks, all the other issues we have, symptoms of what I believe to be a shameful, long term, national and local neglect of this area and the people who live and work it…
– but also, we need to end our ‘open door’ policy nationally to the EU-bloc, which has allowed vast numbers of people to come to this country in a very short space of time.
This policy which needs to be ended before we can have any serious hope of significantly driving down the levels of poverty and inequality in our society.
Thank you for listening.