Jon Trickett

Hemsworth Labour

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I have been the MP for Hemsworth constituency for 21 years. It is a coherent and strong community mainly based around 23 former mining villages.

The boundary proposals for our area take Hemsworth out of the constituency and replace it with Wakefield rural, creating “Featherstone constituency”. This flies in the face of coherence and I will explain why.

Firstly, it is vital that an MP has a link with their constituency, but is it also vital that the community has a link with it too. Under the current boundary proposals that would be destroyed.

The proposals combine two distinctly separate communities that do not share transport links, access to amenities or leisure facilities, or any historical or coherent community ties. They will also result in a constituency that is simply too big. This raises huge problems.

The M1 will run right through the constituency and there are no bus or train links that connect one side of the constituency to another. It would take nearly three hours to get from one end of the constituency to another using existing public transport, in fact it would be quicker to cycle. Don’t forget, a quarter of people in our area don’t own a car.

There will be no connection between the various levels of elected representatives in Hemsworth. It will be a Wakefield council area not represented by a Wakefield MP, but a Barnsley MP.

Also, since 2015, nearly 2,000 people have registered to vote in Hemsworth. These people would not be counted under the government’s proposals. I can think of many Tory MPs whose majorities are much smaller than that, so it would be unusual for them to ignore such a significant proportion of a constituency electorate.

Today, the House of Commons discusses the government boundary changes that will affect our area. Labour have tabled a Bill to contest the Tory proposals which I support.

It may seem like an unimportant issue, but constituency boundaries impact everyone. For example, if the an area an MP represents is too big, it could mean your voice isn’t as easily heard, or that the needs of your community are lumped with those of another community in a totally different cultural, geographical or local government area.

We are all more or less in agreement that a boundary review is needed. Updating electoral boundaries is a vital part of the functioning of our democracy and it is our duty as politicians to do what is in the best interests of our country.

People have lost faith in politics – 60% are not satisfied with the way parliament is run. There is a deep malaise in Britain which has often expressed itself on the doorstep as “politicians are only in it for themselves”. But the public are savvy to political manoeuvring – for example, they all know why Northern Ireland got £1 billion.

It would seem that the same political manoeuvring is going on today. I am sure the intention is not to deliberately gerrymander, but that is certainly the perception the government is giving.

What is clear is that the government haven’t even bothered to understand the local dynamic when drawing up these proposals. They have been designed with one thing in mind: increasing the number of Tory MPs.

It is a shame that such politicking is being put before democracy and local people.

What the new Parliament boundaries will do to our area

I have been the MP for Hemsworth constituency for 21 years. It is a coherent and strong community mainly based around 23 former mining villages. The boundary proposals for our...

 

It’s harder up north. This much is generally understood, but what it actually means for people living here, like my constituents, is rarely talked about by political elites or the media. They show little interest in events outside the capital.

Brexit was their wake up call. It revealed a deep frustration from people like us at the failure of policies cooked up in Westminster that did nothing to dampen the impact of the economic devastation caused by deindustrialisation. We needed to change a political system that was not delivering for areas like ours.

But the Brexit being pursued by the Conservatives will not deliver the change the north needs either. The opportunities that Brexit presents are wasted on a party that wants only a race to the bottom. They want to deregulate markets, centralise power and open Britain up to huge businesses at any cost. What the Conservatives lack in imagination they also lack in the competence needed to overcome the challenges ahead, as we are reminded almost daily.  

Many of these challenges are especially relevant to the north. Today’s report from the Institute for Public Policy Research’s “State of the North” show exactly why.

The report tells us that Brexit will have nearly twice the impact on the economy of the north of England as it will on London, primarily as a consequence of northern regions’ greater dependency on EU trade. We’ve not be able to grow our own as much as places down south, so have ended up less independent than them.

But what the IPPR’s report also highlights—and this, I think, is significant—is that by 2030, the dominant age group in the north, in politics and in the economy, will be the millennial generation and their successors. These are the people who hold the key to transforming this for people in our region. They will also bear the brunt of whatever policies are put (or not put) in place over the next few years.

Young people are likely to hold fewer assets and have lower income than their predecessors. We need to give the generation the tools to change this, particularly round here.  

We can start by giving 16 year-olds a vote on the issues that will come to shape their lives—as Labour recently tried to do in the House of Commons, only to be stopped by a Conservative Party set on wrecking democracy least they be defeated.

But more than anything, what we need is a transformative politics that sets out to fundamentally reshape the UK and the North in particular. The aim of this politics should be to democratise wealth, abolish inequality and give people a real say in the decisions that matter—especially those excluded from the market and ignored by politicians, as young people so often are.

I want devolution to be a huge part of this. It is key to this and is crucial to unlocking the North’s potential.

As I’ve often said, we in the North know what’s best for our communities, and the terms of any further devolution should determined by local needs and desired outcomes, not those set by central government. Devolution should also offer an opportunity to challenge dominant approaches to policy making, not reinforce them, as it tends to do in its current form. So, devolution, yes, but the right kind of devolution.

But without proper investment, devolution will have limited impact. We need the power to make decisions, but we need the resources to realise their potential. Infrastructure investment in the north, for example, is many times lower per head than it is in London. This has to change.

This then should be the target for politicians like me. We must meet the challenges and opportunities presented by Brexit but we can go someway to dramatically rebalancing the economy in favour of the north, and in favour of the many, not the few. 

I want young people and the North to benefit from Brexit

  It’s harder up north. This much is generally understood, but what it actually means for people living here, like my constituents, is rarely talked about by political elites or...

People round here work hard. The wealth of our nation was built on work from people like us. 

Yet we’re still being pushed behind by a government that cares little for areas outside of London and the South East. There’s been no meaningful investment round here for decades.

Now we’ve found out that 3 in 10 workers across our area are paid less than the Real Living Wage. The Living Wage is calculated as enough to live on, and is above the national minimum wage.

It’s not right. People work hard, but many big firms pay people too little, even though they could afford to pay them more. And without the investment that makes business more productive, small firms can’t pay people a living wage, even if they wanted to.

The Government has to put this right as soon as possible. We need more investment now.

It's Living Wage Week

People round here work hard. The wealth of our nation was built on work from people like us.  Yet we’re still being pushed behind by a government that cares little...


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