General Election 2017: meet the candidates - Nigel Knowles - The Solihull Observer
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17th Aug, 2022

General Election 2017: meet the candidates - Nigel Knowles

LIKE Mrs May, I campaigned for Britain to ‘Remain’. Like Mrs May, I am fully committed to Brexit being implemented. Like Mrs May, I reject any thought of a further referendum – the British people have decided and democracy must reign supreme.

However, that is where any similarities between Mrs May and myself end. Much of the talk about ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ Brexit hides what the choice facing the British people really is. Fundamentally, it is about the sort of country we want to live in and how we see ourselves in the wider world.

If you want to a country that is increasingly divided, with more inequality and less opportunities, with worsening public services and where we are increasingly isolated in the world, then, by all means, vote Tory.

But if you want to see a country that looks after the interests of the many, rather than just a privileged few, then only Labour can provide the alternative government we need.

Labour will:

* Establish regional development banks that will create hundreds of thousands of good quality jobs in manufacturing and green industries.

* Ensure six million people get a pay rise by introducing a REAL living wage of at least £10 an hour.

* Stop corporate tax cuts and ensure tax dodgers pay their fair share.

* Invest in housing, building the homes our country needs, and thus create thousands of good quality jobs.

* Provide educational opportunity; guarantee the health and social care services we need; provide safer neighbourhoods as part of a better, fairer, more united Britain.

For more details of our detailed policy position please see solihulllabour.org.uk and labour.org.uk

Turning back to Brexit. Leaving negotiations in Tory hands would be a disaster. When Mrs May had met the Queen and declared Parliament dissolved from the steps of 10 Downing Street, she castigated Labour as dissidents, the Scots as extremists and attacked other European Heads of State. I admit to thinking she was going to say: “I sent a note and have had no reply, and, consequently, this country is now at war with Germany, France, Holland, Italy, Spain and the rest of Europe”. What a disastrous start to so-called ‘negotiations’ to get Britain out of the European Union.

The conduct of the negotiations, indeed the timing of the General Election itself, has nothing to do with what is in the best interest of the country. Just like for Major and Cameron before her, Mrs May is guilty of pandering to her right wing Tory MPs and UKIP. Once again, the Tories are putting the Conservative Party first and the country second. Attacking our neighbours, whipping up nationalism and pandering to those who are anti-immigrant, brings shame to our country.

Anyone who questions her is accused of undermining talks with the EU. Yet it is Mrs May herself who is doing that. She tells the British people that it’s only the Tories who can carry through Brexit. That’s not the case. Labour would do a much better job, not dictating to EU member states, but going forward on solid ground, protecting trade, jobs, services international agreements, defence and public services.

As a nation, hopefully with the Scots, we need to make a success out of Brexit. We need to treat neighbouring countries as partners. Trade helps create wealth and will continue, people will come here to work and to live, and Britons will work and live abroad. New allegiances will be formed and new trading partners. Ensuring we live in peace with European neighbours is as important today as when the EU was founded. We must not concede Gibraltar.

As I said at the start, this General Election is a choice about the type of country we want to live in. Serving as Chairman of the Scrutiny Committee for the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Board, I am very aware of the challenges we face. I am a fighter for quality and well-paid jobs, public services, protecting the environment and the necessary investment in housing, education, and, most importantly, the NHS. Labour’s alternative includes the creation of a national investment bank, a fair and progressive taxation system, an end to zero hour contracts, building more houses, more funding for the NHS and education, an end to cutting local authorities budgets. Labour provides the alternative to continuing Tory austerity.

Please feel free to contact me on 0121 745 2631 or email solihull.meriden.labour@googlemail.com

Vote Labour – Vote Knowles

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