Last night the House of Commons voted to hold a General Election on Thursday 12 December. I am proud to be Labour’s candidate for Barnsley Central. I’m standing because my commitment to Barnsley is a long-term one.
Although Brexit has dominated our political debate in recent years, this election is about so much more than our future relationship with Europe.
A decade of Tory austerity has devasted our town and our country. Too many people are in low-paid and insecure work, too many children face barriers to opportunity. Our public services and infrastructure are rapidly deteriorating due to chronic under-investment and we are in the midst of a climate emergency.
As a constituency MP, I am regularly contacted by families with elderly relatives who are worried about the spiralling costs of social care. Although important issues such as these are forgotten in the Westminster Bubble; they are not forgotten in Barnsley, and they are not forgotten by me.
We are living through extraordinary political times – this election represents a monumental choice for the country. Now more than ever, we need a transformative Labour Government committed to building a collaborative, sustainable and inclusive economy where everyone shares the benefits.
My entire adult life has been dedicated to public service, serving at the sharp end of our Armed Forces and working tirelessly for the people of Barnsley. I have also demonstrated that I’m independently-minded and will always stand up for what I believe is right before toeing the party line.
It is the greatest honour to represent my constituents in Parliament. Barnsley is where my life is rooted, it’s my home and it’s where my kids go to school. And that’s why – while some are walking away – I will be standing firm and seeking re-election as our local MP.
Of course, Brexit must be resolved, which is why I was dismayed the Prime Minister did not allow MPs the proper time to scrutinise his Withdrawal Agreement Bill after it had been agreed in principle. This piece of legislation will define our relationship with our European neighbours for years to come. We need to get it right. This decision has created further uncertainty and unnecessary delay.
I have taken exceptional and unprecedented steps as MP and as Mayor of South Yorkshire to ensure our region is best placed to deal with whatever Brexit might bring. I was elected as Mayor with the overwhelming support of residents in Barnsley. I stepped up to do this so that I could leverage every possible penny in extra investment for our communities and secure a devolution settlement that will give our region the powers and funding it needs.
I’m proud of what we have achieved and since last year, I have led on the investment of nearly £100 million in vital projects, including £20 million for Barnsley. We’ve created almost 10,000 new jobs and are working to transform our public transport system to make it more effective, affordable and sustainable. I established the ‘Working Win’ programme that has supported 5,000 people, brought the Children’s University to Barnsley and developed a travel concession scheme to help people back to work. Despite the progress made, there is still much work to be done.
I care about my constituents, I want to make their lives better and improve our town. Nobody will fight harder to achieve this. Which is why I would be hugely grateful for your support at the General Election on Thursday 12 December.