Bread and butter issues are bringing votes over to Labour, says Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell on a visit to the Calder Valley.
Mr McDonnell was speaking before a meeting of Labour activists in Todmorden in support of the party’s General Election 2019 candidate for Calder Valley, Josh Fenton-Glynn.
With the seat a key marginal, Mr McDonnell was the second of the party’s heavyweights to campaign in Calder Valley with Coun Fenton-Glynn, with Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Rebecca Long-Bailey visiting on the day the party’s manifesto was launched last Thursday.
“We have had ten years of austerity and people are saying we can’t carry on like this restricting our NHS, we can’t go on with our schools being cut or not seeing police officers on the beat any more as a result of cuts that have taken place,” he said.
With the price tag of his party’s proposals questioned by some he meets, Mr McDonnell argues that Labour’s proposed spending is investment needed to tackle large-scale problems.
The fifth largest economy in the world needed to meet the challenges of a climate change emergency and a social emergency, he said, giving an example of retro-fitting out homes with solar panels as part of a green industrial revolution which would switch energy use from fossil fuels to alternatives.
“It is a large scale investment, there is no doubt about it – because the challenges are large,” he said.
Another big commitment was being made to WASPI – Women Against State Pension Inequality – because they had been treated appallingly leaving many in “real poverty, while their plans for retirement were undermined,” he said.
Mr McDonnell said compensation would be expensive but would meet the need they had and was “a debt of honour” to them.
Places like Calder Valley, being defended by Conservative candidate Craig Whittaker, and neighbouring constituency Halifax, held for Labour by Holly Lynch, would benefit by Labour’s plans to re balance the economy, Mr McDonnell said.
Areas like Calderdale would benefit from budgets and investment in infrastructure such as rail, he added.
“We want to ensure that areas like these will be getting a fair crack of the whip,” he said, arguing London and the south received investment at twice the level of constituencies like Calder Valley and Halifax.
This would mean not just funds but powers as well being rolled out to regions like the north, with a regional arm of an investment bank established to enable resources to flow into areas like Calderdale, said Mr McDonnell.
He said the reason the party were trying to relocate areas of the treasury was to ensure decisions on investment would be made by local businesses, council leaders and trade unions.