Portsmouth Needs Secure Homes For The Many Not The Few

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There are many things I find worrying about the housing situation in Portsmouth as it stands under a Conservative government.

I worry because the rush to make a profit by those who want to exploit the housing market is making it increasingly difficult for many Portsmouth families to find a permanent home to live in: a home which they can afford and in an environment which is healthy and safe for their children to grow up in.

I am concerned about the number of Houses in Multiple Occupation, (HMOs), springing up in the city. Large companies are buying up properties in unsuitable residential locations, where housing should be for families and permanent residents.

In the South of the city these companies are converting houses for students and charging high rents which ultimately puts the cost of private rental up for everyone, and in Portsmouth North, large companies are converting houses and buildings which used to be offices, shops and public houses and turning them into small, often cramped units and are again charging high rents for the area.

None of this helps Portsmouth families urgently looking for somewhere to rent that they can afford, or that they will be able to call a real home.

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The Odeon North End as it used to be

Then there is the problem of companies buying up land to build houses and flats, without thought for the surrounding area and its occupants. In North End, already a highly-populated area, with many of the older houses turned into flats or HMOs, there are proposals for the redevelopment of the rear of the former Odeon Cinema. 15 homes are planned, some quite large, with 23 car parking spaces between them, plus access will be required from neighbouring Laburnum Grove, potentially taking away already hard-to-find parking space. This is in a very crowded area where traffic fumes pollute the air while people search endlessly to find somewhere to park their car while they do their shopping.

rumal-allaway-ave-1aa-smlIn other areas of Portsmouth North, particularly Paulsgrove, properties are lying empty while young families who grew up in the area would love to rent a place near their parents. With people desperate for somewhere decent to live, just one house lying empty is a terrible thing. With nearly 100 people on the housing waiting list, it’s a tragedy.

This hasn’t been helped, of course, by the selling off of council property since the Thatcher years. Nowadays, with so few families being able to afford a mortgage, it is more likely that an ex council house will be sold on to a property company to rent at a high price, than to a family wanting to live in the area.

But the irony is that, despite the buying up of land and older property by developers and rental companies, there are simply not enough real affordable homes for families in Portsmouth.

Far too many luxury flats and houses that most people can’t afford are being developed instead. Each new site is supposed to contain a certain number of homes that people on low incomes can afford. Local planning policies say so, but the results do not appear to bear that out.

Portsmouth urgently needs affordable homes to buy and rent and Portsmouth people need a Labour Government to ensure that they get them.

 

Labour’s Plans for Affordable Homes For All:

Labour will suspend the right-to-buy policy to protect affordable homes for local people, with councils only able to resume sales of council homes if they can prove they have a plan to replace homes sold like-for-like.

Labour will remove government restrictions that stop councils building homes and begin the biggest council building programme for at least 30 years.

Labour will ditch the Conservatives’ ban on long-term council tenancies to give council tenants security in their homes. Labour want more people to have a secure tenancy in a home built to high standards.

Labour will provide a million new homes over five years with at least half of them for rented affordable housing.

Labour will have regional homebuilding targets so that rural areas benefit from council homes as well as urban areas and ensure that accessible housing for disabled people is built so no one is left behind.

And all of this is possible because Labour will securely expand local authority mortgage lending for affordable homes and Labour’s plan for homes for all will be paid for as part of a £500 Billion investment in our economy.

Portsmouth families deserve decent housing, with homes fit to live in, with security of tenure for tenants and truly affordable homes for those who choose to buy.

It really isn’t that much to ask, surely, that everyone has a roof over their head that they can rely upon?

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So, let’s have no more home insecurity for anyone. Let’s take the greed out of providing homes for people and instead have a housing policy that is built for all of us.

VOTE LABOUR ON JUNE 8TH FOR SECURE HOMES FOR ALL!

Tory Education Cuts Are Horrific For Our Children

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Image from an Education Cuts article in the Guardian

A few days ago, I was talking to parents collecting their children from a local infants school. They are very concerned about the cuts to school funding.
I have been looking at the website http://schoolcuts.org.uk/ and understand their fears.

From the website you can see that under a Conservative Government that school’s budget will amount to a loss of £131,547 by 2022, which will amount to a loss of £367 per pupil and a subsequent loss of 4 members of the teaching staff!

Even under Lib Dem plans, the loss to that school would be £85,505 by 2022: that’s £238 per pupil and a subsequent loss of 2 members of teaching staff.

But with Labour’s plans for Education it doesn’t have to be that way.

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Labour Is Ambitious For Every Child

Under Labour’s budget plans for education, it would be possible to add to that school’s budget by £10,705 by 2022. That’s £29 more for each pupil and enough money for an extra teacher.

And this is typical of all infant, primary and secondary schools in Portsmouth.

Under a Conservative Government, school funding will be cut drastically, leading to larger class sizes and a lack of resources, while in comparison a Labour Government will invest in our children’s Education.

One of the Secondary Schools in Portsmouth North is threatened with such crippling funding losses that they could lose 11 teachers under a Conservative Government. That’s right, that would be a loss of 11 teachers!

This is a city school with high pupil numbers and where teachers are struggling to cope with cuts already.
Imagine what the loss of 11 members of teaching staff would do to staff morale and the effect it would have on the education of children attending the school!

And yet a Labour Education Budget would increase funding, enough to employ 8 MORE members of teaching staff to that school.

It is possible to invest in our children’s education and the Conservative plan not to invest but to cut instead is a threat to the education of all our children and an insult to our hard working teaching staff.

Check out the School Cuts for your local school.
You can find out here:
http://schoolcuts.org.uk/

I am sad to say that you will be horrified at the Conservative’s planned cuts to funds for your children’s school.

labour-ambitious-portsmouth-labourLabour knows that children are the nation’s future and that giving them a good education is vital. And Labour will invest in Education for all.

So please think very carefully about who you vote for on June 8th. Only a vote for Labour will provide a vote for good quality, free education for all our children.

So please don’t let any of our young people have their education threatened and their hopes and dreams dashed. Vote Labour on June 8th to give our children a good, free, quality education.

Education Is A Right, Not A Privilege

Everyone should have the chance to access free education for life.

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Labour Manifesto – Free Lifelong Education

I have three children and I am very proud of them and their educational achievements. But I know that they, just like the rest of us, are living in a changing world where we all need to have access to education for life in order to cope with changes in the job market.

But how many of us can afford to get a good education nowadays, or access to retrain to get a new job?

Labour believes education should be free. No one should be put off educating themselves for lack of money or through fear of debt.

If we are to improve the life chances of all our children and enhance the nation’s skills’ in order to thrive and succeed, then I believe further education and training is the key. We live in a time where the type of demands for different kinds of skills and the paths of our working lives are changing.

Unlike many generations before us, a particular set of skills and experience no longer guarantees a job for life. To meet these shifting needs, our wider education system has to adapt, and lifelong learning and training will deliver productivity and growth to the whole economy, while transforming the lives of individuals and communities.

The Tories claim to be committed to delivering high-quality training, but they’ve ruthlessly cut funding for FE colleges and reduced entitlements for adult learners. With diminishing numbers of courses and students, the sector has been plunged into crisis.

Labour would introduce free, lifelong education in Further Education (FE) colleges, enabling everyone to upskill or retrain at any point in their life.

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Labour Manifesto – Towards a National Education Service

In Further Education Labour would:

  • Improve careers advice and open up a range of routes through, and back into, education, striking a balance between classroom and on-the-job training, to ensure students gain both technical and soft skills.
  • Correct the historic neglect of the FE sector by giving the sector the investment – in teachers and facilities – it deserves to become a world-leading provider of adult and vocational education.
  • Restore the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) for 16 to 18-year-olds from lower and middle income backgrounds.
  • Replace Advanced Learner Loans and upfront course fees with direct funding, making FE courses free at the point of use, including English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses.
  • Ensure vocational routes incorporate the service sector as well as traditional manufacturing, working in tandem with our broad industrial strategy to deliver for the whole economy.

As a businessman, I know how important it is that young people coming into the workplace have all the essential skills to guarantee them, and our country, a strong future. I want to see them thrive, grow and benefit. We cannot price them out before they’ve even started!

However, within Higher Education there is a real fear that students are being priced out of university education.

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Labour Manifesto – Higher Education Should Be Free

Last year, 2016, saw the steepest fall in university applications for 30 years. Since the Tories came to power, university tuition fees have trebled to over £9,000 a year and maintenance grants have been abolished and replaced with loans.

The average student now graduates from university, and starts their working life, with debts of £44,000. England degree debt is the highest in the English speaking world – The Sutton Trust (a social mobility charity) and yet the government says it is ‘fair and sustainable’.

We used to look at the cost of education in the US and feel lucky that we lived in the UK. But not any more. Now, on average at the end of their degree course US students owe between £20,500 to £25,200 – almost half the UK cost.

Is this any way to start your journey into the adult world of work and your chosen career? Debt is a scourge, the Tory government are constantly telling us we must, as a country, get out of it and yet their very own policies are propelling each successive generation into it. Even putting them off further study altogether. Portsmouth is a university city and I want to see it open to all.

We need to redress this imbalance. We need to invest in our country’s future… it’s our children.

Labour will:
Reintroduce maintenance grants for university students, and abolish university tuition fees. University tuition is free in many northern European countries, and under a Labour government it will be free here too.

Make tuition free not only for those starting courses in September 2017, but also for those already studying now.

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Talking to teachers and parents about the importance of a properly funded education service.

Our children are our future and Labour will stand up for them.

The Homeless Ex Serviceman

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I was talking to shoppers as they stopped at our Labour Party Street Stall when I noticed a man watching us from across the road.  I went over to talk to him.

At first the man was reticent, thinking I was ‘just another politician’ because I was dressed smartly. But I told him what I believe, and that is that I try to dress smartly to talk to people because I respect them.

The man was less reticent then and he told me a very sad story.

He is an ex serviceman. He served in the British Armed Forces for 22 years.
But now he is unemployed and homeless.

“Why has this happened to me?” He said.
“I have done nothing wrong. I served my country. I risked my life and was proud to do so. And yet now no one wants to know me.”

The man’s story moved me to tears.

I have worked with unemployed people for many years, helping them to overcome difficulties and find work. But this man had worked hard and had done all he could to do the right thing for 22 years!

And as someone who wants to make things better for people, this saddens me.
Because this man has no faith in politicians. He feels that politicians over the last few years have taken away all his respect.

I would never want to be a politician like that, but it is hard to convince someone who feels he has been treated so badly by people who are supposed to represent him.

And that is why I could never be a Conservative.

Conservatives talk about ‘heroes’ when they refer to our service men and women, but they don’t back that up with real respect for their lives.

Families of Armed Forces members often live on low wages and have been hit by the bedroom tax. Members of the Armed Forces who have been injured while on duty are finding it difficult to get recompense under this Conservative Government.

And our veterans are leaving the services unable to find work and even homes, because of the Conservative austerity economy and a Conservative disregard for veterans who need specialist public services.

It is Labour who know that we have a duty to properly reward and remunerate our Armed Forces with the pay and living conditions that their service merits.

And it is Labour who are fully committed to supporting our veterans, with a Homes Fit For Heroes program and with an emphasis on prompt access to support and compensation for those injured while serving.

It will be difficult to convince everyone that Labour really cares about our armed forces personnel, especially those like the ex serviceman I met at the street stall.

But we have to try.

It saddens me that this Government has allowed some of our veterans to end up this way.
And I really hope that the voters realise that it is Labour who want to support our Armed Service Personnel, both serving and ex-service.

Because it would be dreadful for this sad situation to be allowed to continue.

Labour is Ambitious for Every Child In Portsmouth

Labour is ambitious for every child in Portsmouth. But under the Conservative Government your child’s education could be badly affected.

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As a father of three children who have grown up in Portsmouth, I know the importance of a good education and the value of the schools who provide it. I am proud of what my two daughters and son are achieving and am grateful that they have had the chance to experience things through their education that are helping them get on in life. But I also know only too well that it is not like this for all children.

We Need To Stop Child Poverty

One in four children are living in poverty in the UK right now. The total figure has soared by 400,000 since the Tories came to power. Source: the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Under the Tory Government the UK has fallen in global rankings for children’s rights from 11th. place to 156th. It is now amongst the bottom ten global performers in improving the rights of the child after achieving the lowest possible score across all six main indicators. Source: Kids Rights Index 2017 (data collected from Unicef & United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child)

The government is failing to protect vulnerable children, too many of whom are missing out on things they should be experiencing which could provide them with the chance of a better life as they grow up. For many life is grim and without much of what most children take for granted. Two thirds of them come from families where at least one parent is working, according to the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) and Barnado’s. There is little evidence here of the government’s commitment to a ‘country that works for everyone.’

Free School Meals for every Primary School Pupil

For some of these children, their school dinner is the only decent meal they get all day and Labour is determined they will not go without it. While the Tories plan to take free school meals away from infants, Labour will provide free school meals for all primary school children and will pay for this by introducing VAT on private school fees.

Invest In Schools. Don’t Cut Them!

To ensure that they, and the rest of our children, get the opportunities they deserve Labour will also reverse the crippling cuts to schools. The Tories tell us they have put more into the schools’ budget, but that’s not how it’s looking to headteachers in Portsmouth and around the country. Right now, headteachers in the city are struggling with dwindling funds and over the next three years, a study by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and figures from the National Audit Office (NAO), show our city schools are set to lose over £8 million. That’s a sum equivalent to 216 teachers. The School Cuts site https://www.schoolcuts.org.uk/#!/ has examples of how such devastating cuts could affect schools across the country.

These Are Potential Cuts To Your Schools in Portsmouth North Under the Tories:

Here are just some examples of what lies ahead for potential school cuts and staff losses in Portsmouth North under the Conservatives:

Budget cuts  =                         per school            per pupil      equal to no. of teachers

Copnor Primary                    £166,394                   £246                                5
Isambard Brunel Junior     £95,835                     £362                                3
Lyndhurst Junior                  £117,606                   £241                                3
Northern Parade Junior     £115,430                   £298                              4
Trafalgar School                    £200,958                  £413                                 5
Mayfield School                     £528,629                  £442                              14
King Richard School             £257,618                   £394                               7

These cuts will have a profound affect on our children and could lead inevitably to bigger class sizes, fewer teachers and support staff, less available materials and, as is already happening in other parts of the country, certain subjects being totally removed from the curriculum. All this, when an extra £320 million, earmarked in the budget, will be flowing into the government’s free school programme.

Stop the Cuts To Our Schools – Vote Labour!

Labour wants a better deal for Portsmouth North’s schools. All our children deserve a brighter future. They should get the opportunity to have one.

As your Labour candidate, I will stand up for the schools in Portsmouth North. I will stand up for all our children.

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The Tory Government Has Denied QA Hospital Critical Funding!

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QA Hospital has lost out on critical funding through no fault of its own

All the different members of staff in our National Health Service are working so hard to provide the decent care we all need at different times in our lives. They do a tough job and we know that money for our NHS has been cut to the bone. Every penny is vital and it’s now virtually impossible to make it go as far as we need it to…in fact we just can’t. So it’s very disturbing to learn that our own local services have suffered another blow.

The Tory Government has denied our very own Queen Alexandra (QA) hospital an additional £7.6 million of funding.

With 240 people stuck in beds every month, because the social care they need to recuperate isn’t available, the hospital failed to meet the financial conditions needed to gain the money. The Sustainability and Transformation Funding (STF) would have made a significant difference to our struggling local health services and it’s a travesty that such a decision has been made.

With less money going into our local health needs and the same situation repeated across the country, things will only get worse. Hospital waiting lists will get even longer, so will delays to GP appointments and there’ll be an even greater loss of doctors, nurses and care staff from the service.

Yet the Tory Government tells us they’re putting more money into health. They claim their increase to the Department of Health’s budget between 2015/16 and 2020/21 is £10 billion, but the independent think tank The King’s Fund, says it is far closer to £4.5 billion. So if the Tories stick to this amount, The King’s Fund say there is every prospect of patients waiting even longer for treatment and care being increasingly rationed.

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Many NHS Nurses are under severe financial pressure

Staff shortages have contributed to the financial problems of our health service too. Locums used to plug the gaps are expensive and greatly increase costs to the NHS.With tougher working conditions, and greater financial pressures, increasing numbers of people are leaving the health professions. It’s little wonder when, for example, parking costs at their workplaces are costing some nurses over £100 a month alone. It cannot be right that 6,500 of them have even been reduced to using food banks because their wages will not stretch to the end of the month either. Janet Davies, head of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said: ‘…for almost entirely all nurses, this is the worst it’s been.’

This is a dreadful situation and our NHS is facing a state of emergency.

care-for-nhs-labourLabour has policies to ensure that our hospitals, health services and NHS staff get the funding and support they need so desperately.

 

Let’s stop this NHS emergency before it’s too late.  Please vote Labour!

Labour’s Great Plan To End Hospital Car Park Charges In England

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On Monday 8th May, Jeremy Corbyn announced that Labour will end car parking charges at NHS England hospitals.

Labour intend to be able to do this by raising insurance tax on private healthcare to 20%.

That seems very fair to me.

I was talking to people visiting QA hospital this morning and they certainly welcomed these plans, as do families living in roads near the hospital.

When I arrived at QA there was a very large queue for the main car park, but there were also many cars driving slowly, trying to find parking space for a short term stay. As with hospitals all over the country, this type of parking space is in very limited supply.

But for all those patients and visitors trying to park at QA, there were others trying to find parking space outside the hospital.

The result is that roads in Wymering and Paulsgrove are often filled with cars owned by hospital visitors and staff. This is not good for local residents, who often struggle to find a place to park themselves.

However, in some ways you cannot blame QA Hospital visitors and some of their hard-pressed staff from trying to find parking space elsewhere, because the hospital parking fees are high and can add an extra burden on what is often already a stressful hospital visit or a hard and stressful day’s work.

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Outside QA Hospital main entrance

Labour’s plan for free parking at NHS hospitals will not only take away this element of stress, but will be a huge benefit to patients – especially those who have to make frequent hospital visits – and to those visiting friends and relatives.

The plan will also benefit all those hospital staff, already suffering from having their pay frozen, and at least give them a little extra money per week to spend on essential bills.
And add free parking for staff to the promised pay increases for hospital staff under a Labour Government, and our NHS staff will at least begin to benefit from all their hard and expert work.

I can understand that some will say that raising insurance tax on private health care is not patient-friendly, but for most of us who cannot afford private health care and who are struggling to make ends meet as it is, knowing that we can park for free when we visit a hospital will be a very real help.

As Jeremy Corbyn said yesterday:

“Our hospitals are struggling from underfunding at the hands of Theresa May’s Conservative government, but the gap should not be filled by charging sick patients, anxious relatives and already hard-pressed NHS staff for an essential service. Our NHS needs a Labour government that will stand up for the many, not the few.”

I think this is excellent Labour policy. Labour knows that we need a health service we can rely on in every way. So please vote Labour on June 8th this year, to protect our NHS patients and staff.

Labour Has Plans For Our Childrens Health – And they are Great!

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Jeremy Corbyn Pledges To Improve The Health Of the Nation’s Children – BBC Library

Labour is always concerned with the Nation’s health and today’s announcement by the Labour Party Policy and Research team demonstrates that Labour is very concerned about the health and wellfare of our children.

After all, healthy children are much more likely to grow up to be healthy adults and young people.

As I said in my post yesterday on Labour plans for the nation’s health, every nation relies upon its people for growth and prosperity.

So planning for a healthy nation (rather than, like the Tories, relying on private financiers to choose what is ‘cost effective’ for our healthcare) makes perfect sense.

I have known for a long time that Labour has very good plans for health, education, housing, employment rights, transport and many other policies to deal with essential issues.

And now all these policies are being outlined in the run up to the June 8th General Election.

With this in mind, I will be posting Labour Policy Announcements, as they occur, to special pages on this site.

Today’s announcement covers the health and wellbeing of the nation’s children.

Here is the link so you can read the announcement for yourself:

Labour’s Major Program To Improve Our Childrens Health

And here’s the link to my Labour Policy Announcements Page.

I hope you find them useful!

We Need A Health Service We Can Rely On

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From the News Portsmouth

From difficulties in getting an appointment to see a GP, to our A&E department spending 134 days on ‘black alert’ and ambulance crews stuck outside QA Hospital when they should have been on call for other emergencies, Portsmouth people are not getting the health care they deserve.

We all know of someone who has struggled to see a doctor when they or their child was ill, but it’s not the doctor’s fault that it is sometimes difficult to get an appointment. It is because GP surgeries are being forced to close when doctors retire and cannot be replaced, or they are having to almagamate with other surgeries to form large ‘Health Centres’.

All this leads to fear and uncertainty. There was a time not that long ago when we knew that we would be able to make a forward appointment to see a GP, but in some Portsmouth Health Centres this can be very difficult.

Why is this happening to our doctors surgeries?

Because many doctors are choosing not to become GPs, with all the stress, long hours and uncertaintly involved. And some of our best junior doctors are struggling to remain positive about their work when they have been put on new contracts which will leave them over-tired and fearful of making mistakes with our care because of this.

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Overworked nurse cartoon – Nurses station

QA hospital relies on nurses from all over the World, and yet less new nurses are being trained or wishing to continue working in the NHS. And who can really blame them? Not only have NHS training bursaries been cut so that students now have to take out a loan to cover their training, but for those who have qualified already, the system is under such strain that their working lives are incredibly stressful, and with real term cuts to nurses wages their income is not keeping up with the cost of living.

In fact, QA Hospital is struggling in all areas. It is struggling to find beds for new patients who need acute care and some operations have to be cancelled and yet the staff are working the hardest they have ever worked.

Why is this happening to our hospitals?

Because Tory Government cuts to social care mean that many patients have to stay in hospital longer because there is no nursing home accomodation for them. 240 people are stuck in beds every month. It is certainly not their fault and they don’t want to be there. It is Tory government cuts which have led to this dreadful situation.

The Tories are taking the country backwards to the days when most people feared being ill in case they couldn’t get the help they needed.

So what will Labour do to stop the decline of our Health service?

When the Tories fail to give the NHS funds they are making a choice to ignore our health care needs.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Labour will always give the NHS the money and support it needs. Labour will bring back training bursaries for nurses; it will ensure that public companies get a fair deal when tendering for NHS services, rather than allowing private companies to drain our NHS of money in their haste to make a profit, and Labour will give NHS staff and services real funds, rather than the much too little and much too late amounts that the tories grudgingly hand out.

And to ensure better organisation and communicatiion within our Health services, Labour will join up services from home to hospital. Health and social care need to work together, so they can work for you and your family.

Any Government should realise that their best investments are in their people and in those who care for people’s health, because when people are healthy they are working and contributing back into the economy. It makes perfect sense.

care-for-nhs-labour Running a Health Service should never be about profit. It should be about CARE.
As the founders of the NHS, Labour has always known this.

So, if you want to ensure that our NHS doesn’t collapse from Tory underfunding and that we get a FREE and integrated health service that we can rely on, the answer has to be VOTE LABOUR on June 8th!

Standing for election

rumal1On 3rd May I was very happy to discover that I had been selected by the Labour Party to be the official Labour candidate for Portsmouth North in the June 8th General Election.

I have lived and worked in Portsmouth for over 26 years and my family home is in Portsmouth North, so I know the area very well and my children have grown up there.

I am a small businessman who also works within the community. I speak four languages and over the years I have worked hard to help members of the different communities in Portsmouth and to bring many groups together.

I joined the Labour Party because I believe that politics should not be about making  schemes which profit from people, but in serving people, in listening to them, in being aware of their needs, and in trying to change things for them for the better.

That’s why I am standing as a Labour candidate in the June 8th General Election, because I believe that Labour not only has the needs of people at the heart of their politics, but is also the only caring party with the strength and resolve to carry out these policies.

So I hope that you will vote for me on June 8th this year.

I promise that I will not let you down.

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