Election 2015: Kenny Young
Labour's Midlothian candidate explains "why him?"
There is a lot at stake in this election, and it’s important to set out the choice clearly and honestly for people: after May 7th, we will either have a Labour government or 5 more years of the Tories.
The SNP won’t like me saying that, because it makes people ask what the point is in voting for them. But my concern isn’t what the SNP say, it’s how to best serve the people of Midlothian. This is my home. I was brought up in Midlothian by parents from Midlothian and I live and represent people on the Council in Midlothian. I love our community, and I’m firmly of the view that a Labour government will do a huge amount for people right across our area. The alternative is a more extreme version of the Tory austerity that we’ve already seen, and a vote for the SNP could help the Tories stay in power.
Fundamentally, this election is about social justice for people in Midlothian. From Penicuik to Poltonhall, people are fed up of this Tory government, and Labour offers an end to Tory austerity.
As a local representative on Midlothian Council – where the SNP work with an “independent” Tory – I know that Labour are the ones fighting against frontline cuts. For example, when organisations such as the YMCA/YWCA in Penicuik lost out on funding, my Labour colleagues and I called for a pause on the whole grants process and proposed a cross-party working group to solve these issues. However, the SNP and their Tory ally pushed ahead with cuts like this.
The SNP and their Tory ally have also cut free care alarms for older people and have cut back on the taxi card scheme for disabled people. My time as a Councillor has proven to me that the SNP is not the party of social justice. Only Labour can offer that.
Now, I know this is a tough election for Labour, but I also have a huge amount of faith in the people of Midlothian. Given the choice between a Labour government – dedicated to social justice – or 5 years of Tory cuts even more extreme than the last 5 years, I firmly believe that local people will back Labour.
But I also know that we have to be clear about our positive offer for social justice. That’s why I’m really proud of what Labour have already said we would do in Government.
Ending food banks
Before the Tories came into power again in 2010, the phrase “food bank” wasn’t even widely known. In 2009, there was only 1 food bank in all of Scotland. Tragically, hundreds of people across Midlothian now rely on them.
Labour will abolish the need for food banks.
As well as introducing a £175m anti-poverty fund, Labour will increase the minimum wage, extend the living wage and make sure that work pays by banning exploitative zero-hours contracts. We will also scrap the dreadful Bedroom Tax and abolish government targets for benefit sanctions. All of these actions together will help to abolish the need for food banks in Midlothian.
Protecting the NHS
I’ve been diabetic since I was a small boy. I’ve relied on the NHS to keep me healthy and give me the same quality of life as everyone else, and I’ve never paid a penny upfront. Not every country is blessed with that gift, and I’m very protective of our NHS. That’s why I am so pleased that Labour will tax the sale of £2m mansions and use the money to fund 1000 extra nurses in Scotland’s NHS.
A guaranteed job, training or apprenticeship for our young people
One of the worst things to see is when young people – all of whom have unlimited potential – are aimless in life after finishing school, with no job, no training and no support to get a successful start in their working life.
I honestly believe that supporting these people into a good start is one of the most powerful things that government can do. Labour would tax the bankers’ huge bonuses and use that money to create a scheme that guarantees a job, training or apprenticeship for every young person. That is our offer to the young people in our community, but they would have the responsibility to take the offer and make use of it.
Fair taxes for people who work hard
The Tories used their last 5 years in power to give millionaires a tax-cut. Labour would say to the people with the broadest shoulders – those earning over £150,000 per year – that they must bear more of the burden of reducing the deficit. That’s a choice, and I think it’s the right choice.
That would allow a Labour government to lower the tax bill for ordinary working people who go to work, provide for their families and could do with a bit of support to get by. Labour would introduce a 10p starting rate of tax, which would benefit around 40,000 people in Midlothian.
I’m proud of these decisions about tax, because they reflect the kind of country that I want to live in. People who have very large salaries should be asked to contribute a fair amount to get the deficit down. You can’t balance the books by making life harder and harder for ordinary working people.
As I’ve said, I know this is a tough election for Labour. People will have to make up their own minds about how they will vote, but I am very proud of what Labour is offering for Midlothian at this election.
The choice really is clear: it’s social justice for Midlothian with Labour or 5 more years of the Tories.
I’ll be working flat-out to stop a Tory government getting back in. I hope you will support me and help me stop the Tories.
I look forward to meeting you on the campaign trail in the weeks ahead.
Next Week: Michelle Ballantyne, the Conservative’s Midlothian candidate, will write why you should vote for her. Catchup on the series so far by clicking here.