I have had well over a thousand communications from Ipswich voters over the past few weeks and they are still flooding in. Some of them want us to just remain, some want a second referendum, and some want us to leave without a deal. Just 54 people wanted me to vote for the Prime Minister’s deal.
As MP for Ipswich I need to listen to the views of all the residents in my constituency, and I do try to do that. In addition to all those who contact me – and we do try to reply to every constituent – I have spoken to voters at events and on the doorstep in our town. Over the past 25 years, there hasn’t been a single year when I haven’t been going from street to street listening to people tell me about their concerns and asking them what they would like to see happen. I want to represent a UNITED Ipswich in a UNITED Kingdom. Sometimes there are issues where people disagree, like Brexit, but on many issues we know where we stand.
People need secure employment, they need houses, they need reliable health-care and good quality education, and above all they need respect. And they’re not getting those things from this Government. That’s why, once we had trounced Theresa May’s divisive and damaging “deal”, it was absolutely right for Labour to try to get rid of this rotten, unfair and ineffective government.
When Cameron & Osborne tried to scare voters into supporting the EU, millions of decent people in this country looked at our society with its tax-dodgers, it’s multi-millionaires getting tax breaks, and meanwhile everyone else suffering under austerity, without affordable houses or decent wages or job security or safe streets and they didn’t want to have anything to do with that. I believe that is why so many people voted to leave the EU, because they wanted to change the system and they didn’t trust the Government.
We have respected the result of the Referendum, we have waited for the Government to produce a reasonable Brexit deal. But the deal that was finally produced was the worst of both worlds, and it was no surprise that it was sent packing by MPs from all the political parties.
On Wednesday evening the Prime Minister finally agreed it might be sensible to speak to others, and Jeremy Corbyn met her to try to get her to rule out a no-deal Brexit completely, before negotiating a reasonable deal. So far, it appears she has refused.
A no-deal Brexit will do enormous damage to our trade, to our manufacturing, our food, our services such as insurance, even the safety of our streets. Labour will do everything we can to prevent it. If I did not do what I could to try to protect the jobs and livelihoods of Ipswich people then it would be right to call me arrogant and out of touch.
The Conservative candidate for Ipswich has been circulating an extract from Mark Murphy’s excellent morning show on Radio Suffolk. The extract was deliberately cut to make it sound as if I did not respect the views of Ipswich people. Anyone who listened to the whole of Mark’s interview with me would be in no doubt that I do listen to Ipswich people and care very much what they think. When Mark challenged me to make that clear, the Tory website cut my whole response except the words “yes ok”, to make it sound as if I thought I knew better than anyone else. The intention of the Tory advertising is very clear – it is an outright lie in order to try to rubbish my character. I think that’s very sad – Ben Gummer never resorted to such tactics, and I have no intention of doing so myself. I get on very well with Mark Murphy, I relish his challenging questions because they give me the chance to answer things which many Ipswich people might want to ask, and it is disrespectful to Radio Suffolk for deliberately distorted chunks to be peddled in this way.
We all want a better Ipswich in a better UK. Already the Borough Council is building more homes for young families, we are reducing the amount of rough-sleeping, we are rebuilding on the derelict sites, we are attracting new businesses to the town with new better-paid jobs. We need to work together and listen to each other, and we can best do that if we rule out the politics of lies.