Big interview: Nancy Platts, Labour candidate for Brighton Kemptown parliamentary seat (From The Argus)
Get involved: Send your news, views, pictures and video by texting SUPIC to 80360 or email us.
Big interview: Nancy Platts, Labour candidate for Brighton Kemptown parliamentary seat
10:00am Saturday 27th July 2013 in News
The Argus (TA): Three years after standing for Labour in Brighton Pavilion, you have returned to frontline politics in Brighton and Hove. Just why did you put yourself forward again as a prospective MP? Are you a career politician?
Nancy Platts (NP): Absolutely not! My working life started at the age of 18, I didn’t go to university, work for an MP or a think tank and I didn’t even get into politics until I was in my 30’s so I’m hardly a ‘career politician’. I’ve spent most of my working life in the public sector and in charities or organisations that want to make life better for people. Those jobs showed me the tough choices thousands have to make day in, day out.
When I worked for a childcare charity I met many parents who struggled to get back to work because childcare is so expensive, so I successfully campaigned for a Sure Start Children’s Centre in every community – we are now having to save those same Sure Start Centres from Tory cuts.
I’ve also seen first-hand the heartbreaking reality of child poverty and fuel poverty. When I helped to set up the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, I spoke to people who spent winter living in one room because that was all they could afford to heat. The reason I stood again is because I care about finding solutions to problems like these. This Government doesn’t care, it is making life so difficult for so many people and I want to turn that around.
TA: Your selection and close union links has questioned some to link you to the Unite selection scandal. How would you respond to this? Did your selection in Brighton Kemptown rely on any union involvement?
NP: The Labour Party has made it very clear and I have made it very clear, as have lots of local members, that there were no issues with my selection. These stories are being driven by local Tories who are using the issues in Falkirk to score cheap political points and as an opportunity to smear my name.
It is time Simon Kirby stopped hiding behind his attack dogs and debated on policy issues – but maybe he’s worried about defending the Bedroom Tax, £30 million cuts to the local NHS and does not want to explain why over 40% of children in East Brighton and Moulsecoomb are living in poverty?
I did have support from a number of unions and that is perfectly legitimate.
Financial support from a trade union is the most transparent form of funding. I am proud that they wanted to help me and that they have encouraged and supported me since I first expressed an interest in standing for public life back in 2007.
I have found the unions to be particularly supportive of women standing for Parliament; their positive actions, together with those of the Labour Party have seen a surge in the number of women in Westminster and more equal representation there can only be a good thing.
TA: What role do you think trade unions should have in the Labour Party and politics in general?
NP: I think we want to get as many people as possible involved in politics because it determines everything from the wage you take home to the price of your weekly shop. Trade Unions represent millions of working people including teachers, nurses and dinner ladies.
My vision is to build a stronger Labour movement – with the Labour Party working closely with campaign groups, faith and community groups and trade union members to ensure Labour policies are developed from the grassroots upwards and reflect the reality of people’s lives.
TA: With many drawing similarities to the 1980s, can the Labour Party bounce back from the last few weeks?
NP: Again I would say any issues were in Falkirk and nowhere else. Do we need to bounce back? I don’t think so. Our message is that we are the party that will make Britain better, the recent victory in Hanover and Elm Grove and East Brighton before that shows that more people in Brighton are supporting Labour.
If anything the Tory policies are taking us back to the 1980s – we’re seeing more homeless people on the streets, regressive education policies and a return to long waiting lists in hospitals.
TA: In 2010 you were defeated by Caroline Lucas in Brighton Pavilion. How do you feel the country’s first Green MP is doing?
NP: I think the Greens are having a tough time in Brighton and Hove and they seem to be a very divided party right now. It is clearly making it difficult for them to run the council effectively or work with their MP in a constructive way since they are making contradictory statements.
The by-election in Hanover and Elm Grove should be worrying for them and I was appalled at their treatment of the Cityclean workers - the litter piling up on the streets was a sign of the rot setting in. As an MP, Caroline has worked hard and campaigned on many issues but unfortunately as a lone voice it is very hard to change things.
TA: 2010 also saw Labour lose all its MPs in the county. Why did Sussex give up on the party?
NP: We had been in Government for a long time and people had clearly forgotten how damaging the Conservative Party is.
There’s no escaping the reality of them now. Waiting times in A&E are on the increase, people are lying on trolleys for hours again, waiting lists for operations are growing, police response times are getting slower, Sure Start centres are closing, class sizes are rising but free schools are opening in areas where there’s no need, the Tories want to bring O-levels back – it’s a backward looking party undoing all of Labour’s good work. We’re the party of the future.
TA: Given that you failed to be voted in to what was seen as a relatively safe Labour seat in 2010, why should supporters believe that you can win in 2015?
NP: The Green Party had set out Brighton Pavilion as their number one target going into the 2010 election; it was not a safe seat by any means. It has already been mentioned on your letters page how the Greens brought in coach loads of helpers from outside Brighton and how the national media ran a consistent story about ‘the first Green MP’ which gave more than a little help to their campaign!
Across the south at previous elections our share of votes was falling. In Brighton Pavilion between 2001 and 2005 we lost 4,000 votes. But between 2005 and 2010 when I stood, the loss was down to less than 500 votes.
I am proud of the campaign I fought and am still grateful to the many local people who gave up their time to help me. 2015 will be different; we are the only party that offers an alternative to this Conservative-led Government. They will see their share of the vote fall, we are on the up.
May 2015 will see the general and local elections held on the same day.
TA: Will Labour take full control of the council and have three MPs in the city again?
NP: I certainly hope so and a lot of people in Brighton and Hove will be campaigning to make that happen. The Hanover & Elm Grove by-election is a great boost for us as it shows that in the Green heartlands people are coming back to Labour.
The Conservatives have shown themselves to be a party that gives a tax break to millionaires and targets the poorest and most vulnerable with their cuts to public services. Their plans aren’t working but Labour’s vision for the future will.
See the latest news headlines from The Argus:
- Hundreds pledge help for brave little Ollie
- Vintage Brighton and Hove bus back on the road for charity
- Adele awarded MBE at Palace
- Your Interview: Brighton and Hove registrar Trevor Love answers your questions
- Four men arrested on suspicion of 'gang rape' of woman in Brighton
Comments are closed on this article.