“We’re offering a serious alternative to the inequality & austerity that has plunged our public services into crisis.”Laura Smith
Labour Outlook spoke to Laura Smith about her campaign to get re-elected in Crewe & Nantwich, in the first of a series of interviews with candidates in the run up to the General Election. Details of how you can get involved can be found at the bottom of the piece.
Q: You won in Crewe and Nantwich for the first time in 2017, and have become known throughout the labour movement and beyond since as a strong, socialist voice on a number of issues, from standing up for working people in dispute to defending public services. Tell us briefly why you want to go back to Parliament and continue this work?
A: Crewe and Nantwich is my home. I went to school, college and university here before Crewe Campus closed. I’ve worked here, everything from pulling pints in the local pubs to teaching primary school children. Everything I am has been shaped by this place and the people in it and I am eternally grateful. I owe this place. I’ve experienced tough times and can relate to lots of people’s experiences.
Being local gives me the advantage of really understanding the needs of our communities. And it gives me the burning passion when I take our fights to Westminster – when I’m standing up in the chamber, I’m rooting for the place I call home. We need more people in Parliament from my type of background. It must become more representative of our communities.
Q: Tell us about one of your proudest moments as an MP:
A: I promised during the 2017 election campaign that I would save our second fire pump at Crewe. Against the odds my campaign won and that meant 20 plus jobs saved and the community is safer as a result. Firefighters have expressed the difference I made and that’s why I got into politics – to help.
I was also chuffed when a local lady who is a carer for her husband became the face of a national campaign for Age UK. I helped give her the platform to face ministers and get her story heard – I wanted to give people in my community that platform and I feel like I have. Winning MP of the year was great as it was a public vote and I was nominated by constituents who felt my team and I had done a good job.
Q: You’re engaged in a really important battle at the moment. Tell us a bit more about the political background in the seat?
A: It’s always been a tough seat. Historically you don’t have a labour government without Crewe and Nantwich. When I was little my dad used to volunteer for the local Labour Party. He would drive the previous MP Gwyneth Dunwoody to appointments. I would often sit in the back of the car and listen to her stories of Westminster and the battles she fought – I never thought for a moment I’d be there fighting for Crewe and Nantwich one day in the same role. We are a held back, post-industrial town that has not had the investment Northern towns deserve. Faith in politics and politicians is low. Things desperately need to change here and Crewe should be recognised for what it is – the official gateway to the north.
Q: And what are the key issues voters are raising on the doorstep in the campaign and what are you saying to them about how labour will address them ?
A: Brexit is obviously a very important issue. Crewe and Nantwich voted nearly 61 % to leave. Whether people voted leave or remain it is clear people are disillusioned with politics. We really are the only party that is trying to bring this divided country together again.
Bigger than any other issue though is the destruction of our public services – the destruction of the NHS, our schools and the social care system. Low paid, insecure, work and worry about what the future looks like for the next generations is a massive concern – and of course cuts to local government that can be seen and felt in their daily life.
The battle is convincing people that it can change – that the system can be different and austerity isn’t the only way. There is a lack of hope. I’m saying to people they need to ask themselves if they are happy with the way things are. If not, then vote for change.
Q: Obviously they’re all important and fantastic (!) , but what are is your favourite policy in Labour’s manifesto ?
A: I’m incredibly proud to stand on a manifesto offering real change to how things have been for the last 9 years. Under this government, we’re all paying more and getting less. It simply does not have to be this way. We have put forward a fully costed plan that means people will have more money in their back pocket and the cost of living will be pushed down. We are offering a serious alternative to the inequality and austerity that has plunged our public services into crisis.
Our manifesto offers free life long learning and justice for the Waspi women, a £10 minimum wage and a National Care Service. We will save and protect our NHS and make sure towns like Crewe get the investment they deserve. Labour understands that investing in our public services will inevitably mean a more prosperous economy. We are offering real change that will benefit everyone – not just the top 5%. Things can be different and they should be different.
Q: It feels like in a lot of areas a real momentum is building up behind Labour’s campaign. What kind of response have you had in terms of people coming out to help, both locally and from other areas ?
A: It has been amazing. Honestly I’ve been blown away by people travelling from all over the country to fight for a labour government. It makes a huge difference having that presence in the constituency. Obviously the local CLP has been incredibly supportive – even having activists stay at their homes. It’s a real team effort. Even down to my amazing folks who help me so much with my childcare. The labour membership never fails to warm my heart. I’ve also had lots of support from other candidates. That really boosts everyone.
Q: Anything further you’d like to add ?
A: What Crewe & Nantwich needs right now is real change, not more of the same. A vote for me on December 12th is a vote for serious investment in our communities and for building a better future for the next generation. If I am re-elected, I will fight to rebuild our economy and our public services, so that our children get a quality education and can look forward to well-paid, secure jobs in a vibrant local economy.
This general election is also our last chance to tackle the climate emergency with a Green Industrial Revolution at the heart of our plans to transform Britain.
It’s time for real change. This election is a once-in-a-generation chance to transform our country and take on the vested interests holding people back. You can’t trust Boris Johnson to end years of Conservative cuts. The future is ours to make.
SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS & HOW YOU CAN VOLUNTEER FOR LAURA SMITH: