Liberal Democrats in Tower Hamlets officially kicked off their General Election campaigns today, with candidates Elaine Bagshaw and Will Dyer laying out their three main priorities if elected: fighting a Hard Brexit, protecting local NHS services and tackling the crisis in affordable housing.
The local party has tripled its membership since the EU referendum last year, recently surpassing 700 members. It also raised more than £3,000 in the week of the snap election call.
As many in our community gather to mark the 45th Anniversary of Bangladesh Victory Day, Parliamentary Spokesperson for Poplar & Limehouse, Elaine Bagshaw said:
"Today we remember the 3 million people who lost their lives during the Liberation War, and the 10 million people who became refugees during the conflict.
"We celebrate how Bangladesh has progressed since becoming independent, with its poverty rate falling from 57% in 1990 to 25.6% in 2014 and making great contributions to culture.
"But we also recognise the challenges they face in the form of climate change and an increasingly unstable international picture. We hope that we can work together, alongside other nations, to tackle these challenges."
Tower Hamlets Council this year cut services and raised Council tax despite leaving over £4 million in business rates unclaimed in 2015.
A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Council showed that in 2015, £4,266,384.34 of business rates that were owed to the Council went unclaimed. Business rates are a tax on business properties and are the way that those who occupy non-domestic properties contribute to local services.
Elaine Bagshaw, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Campaigner for Poplar & Limehouse said:
“I’m staggered. It’s a sign of heartlessness and incompetence by Labour that, with so much money going unclaimed, they still cut services and increased taxes on local residents whilst giving themselves a pay rise.
According to the Council’s 2013 briefing, 46 per cent of our children are growing up in poverty. Yet the Council is making the burden of service provision fall on local residents, many of which are living below the poverty line. They should be concentrating on making sure businesses pay their fair share - as many are willing to.
Giving residents a worse service and increasing their financial burdens should be an absolute last resort. Labour could have collected the money owed to Tower Hamlets yet it just didn’t bother.
It’s time the Council prioritised getting its own house in order before increasing burdens on local residents.”
Notes to editor
The Council’s briefing on Child Poverty is available here:http://www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/Documents/Borough_statistics/Income_poverty_and_welfare/RB-Child-poverty-Briefing-Final-2013-07.pdf
For too many years our NHS has not got the investment it needs. While Brexiters claimed that the NHS will get another £350million a week when we leave Europe, this has already been shown up as another cheap con trick from Farage, Johnson and Co. to win the referendum at all costs.
Yes our NHS needs more money and that is why Lib Dem Health spokesperson Norman Lamb has called for honesty and straight talking on the cash crisis facing health and care sector, raising the possibility of an extra penny on a new dedicated NHS and care tax. The proposal builds on Mr. Lamb’s previous calls for the introduction of a separate health and care tax, which would be marked out on people’s payslips.
We can no longer deny that the NHS is facing a financial meltdown with treatment rationed because of tight resources.
That's why the Lib Dem are looking into how we can secure the NHS future - considering a dedicated health and care tax, shown on your pay packet. We need to think about fairness between the generations.
We need a national conversation about what sort of service we are prepared to pay for. We should surely aspire to have a modern, efficient, dynamic NHS and care system which treats mental and physical health equally; which ensures that elderly people and those with disability get kind, generous support which helps to prevent ill health and prevents a deterioration of condition; a health system which delivers the best outcomes for patients.
Plans by the Conservatives to reintroduce grammar schools are being opposed by Lib Dems in Tower Hamlets. Elaine Bagshaw, Parliamentary Spokesperson for Poplar & Limehouse, is arguing that they are socially divisive and could lead to children not being able to go to their local school. “The Conservatives want to select children on the basis of their academic abilities at the age of 11,” said Elaine Bagshaw.
“The flip side of identifying some children as a success at a young age means the rest are labelled as failures. They are then sent to schools that will be regarded as the place where the failures go. In this day and age, this is completely unacceptable. We have fantastic schools in our local area that provide a brilliant education without using selection. George Green’s School; Langdon Park and Wapping High School are all fantastic examples of how you can change people’s lives without using selection.
“The reality behind grammar schools is that they predominantly benefit the children of wealthier households. Often however it is the children from lower income families that need the extra resources to boost their life chances. “The education system needs to breed in them self-confidence and ambition. If they are dumped in schools for those marked out as failures at such an early age, their chances of gaining the education and skills they need to make the most of the life chances that come their way are reduced.
“In the Coalition Government, Liberal Democrats introduced the Pupil Premium. This boosted the amount of money a school received for pupils from poorer backgrounds. There was a clear attainment gap between children from low income households and those from well-off homes. The extra money we provided was used to help close that gap. “Now, the Conservatives’ plans for grammar schools - a better education for the few who largely already have good life chances - goes directly against what we did in Government when we set out to raise the standards for all.
“Liberal Democrats will fight any attempt to change existing schools in Tower Hamlets to grammar schools and we will fight plans to introduce new schools here that are selective.” Elaine Bagshaw has welcomed the announcement by Lib Dem Leader Tim Farron MP that the Liberal Democrats will fight the plans for grammar schools in Parliament. As the plans were not included in the Conservatives’ manifesto, they could be rejected completely by the House of Lords where the Conservatives have no majority.
“The Liberal Democrats are the party of education,” said Tim Farron. That means we believe in an excellent education for all, so any plans to bring in more divisive grammar schools will be utterly opposed by us. “The government cannot and will not win on this.”
Elaine Bagshaw, Liberal Democrat candidate for Poplar & Limehouse, has backed plans put to the Party’s Conference on Monday to give the people of the UK the final say on the negotiated package to leave the EU. “The people of the UK voted by a small majority to leave the EU in the Referendum in June,” said Elaine Bagshaw. “Having taken the decision to leave, it is absolutely right that the people should decide the destination of the country. That decision should not be in the hands of one political party. It should be a decision for the whole nation.
“The Leave Campaign made many promises in the campaign. The most notorious was the claim that £350 million a week more could be spent on the NHS. The reality is that breaking our links with Europe will not lead to a single extra penny going to the health service. Many prominent Leave campaigners, including Iain Duncan Smith, dropped the pledge immediately after the referendum campaign.
“Having set the precedent of holding a referendum on our EU membership, it is now absolutely right that a referendum is held to give people a choice to accept the Brexit package or to remain a member if they feel the conditions negotiated by the Conservative Government is not good enough.”