For the last decade, your local councils, schools, NHS, police and public services of all types have been subject to harsh and continuing austerity. The result in Crawley has been headteachers forced to march on Downing Street to demand the funding they require to provide the basics children need to learn, Crawley’s NHS has been officially designated as being in financial Special Measures for years due to insufficient money to cover the cost of residents’s healthcare, and police cuts have seen drugs and knife crime spill out into our local neighbourhoods.
The fact we have been forced to suffer is the result of an ongoing political choice by the Conservatives to prioritise tax cuts for the wealthy over funding our local services, an action taken first in coalition with the Liberal Democrats and more recently on their own. At the same time, to keep themselves in power increasing amounts of money have been sent to Northern Ireland to secure the support of the DUP. I don’t deny that the Northern Irish need investment in their services, but so does England and it’s time we had a Government which recognised that fact.
In coming weeks parties will be promising all manner of things, both policies they believe are inherently right and those they feel are necessary to win the support of the country. The question when it comes to each party is: are they promising enough to ensure we regain the quality of services Crawley deserves, are they in a position where with your support they could get into office and actually deliver it, and does the track-record of that party suggest that when they say they care about our public services we can actually believe them.
Clearly, I have strong views about which party comes out best on those three aspects, but ultimately if we want the services we deserve it’s not enough to go with big promises and bombastic pronouncements, we need to be willing to ask ourselves the hard questions about what we are actually being promised and whether that’s enough to meet the needs of our community.