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Vote today and think about those Hull Siemens jobs when you do

Below is an expanded version of the blog article that Diana Johnson MP wrote for the Hull Daily Mail website.


With political leaflets competing with pizza takeaway menus on Hull doormats, there’s no shortage of advice about who to vote for in today’s local and European elections.

Hull people will, of course, decide for themselves who to vote for and whether to vote at all.

But there’s more at stake than usual for us in Hull this time.

Some people tell me that they intend to vote for UKIP, especially in the EU poll, as a protest.

I understand why voters want to protest at the unfair way that the Coalition Government has treated Hull and other northern cities.

Indeed, I share their anger at Hull losing a quarter of our Council budget, far more than wealthier areas in the South; or Hull’s A&E not getting a penny of extra Winter funding that went to other areas.

I appreciate the widespread disgust at the Bedroom Tax, flood defence cuts, NHS reorganisation, and having a tax giveaway to millionaires while the average worker is £1,600 worse off since 2010.

It’s inevitable that many people feel especially betrayed by Lib Dems who voted all this through Parliament.

Protest is an understandable response to all the broken Lib Dem promises of 2010 on police numbers, tuition fees, VAT and much else. These pledges were made in full knowledge of the deficit that was created by the World-wide banking crisis.

However, would committing economic suicide with UKIP be the wisest protest for Hull voters to make?

Through local efforts over several years, Hull recently won the new green energy investment from Siemens. It means at least 1,000 new local jobs, many more in the supply chain and from others following Siemens to the Humber.

Hull needs all these well-paid, skilled jobs – and many more.

UKIP’s clear policy is to oppose all green energy, including the off-shore wind turbines that Siemens plans to build in Hull. These so-called ‘patriots’ in UKIP would rather have these jobs exported to other European countries.

What message do you want to send to Siemens investors with your vote?
Do you want these jobs in Hull or not? Your choice.

With their opportunist jumble of extreme Thatcherite, sinister and plain crazy policies, few would consider UKIP as a serious potential government.

Neither should Hull people regard UKIP as a credible vehicle for protest.

Others contemplate exercising the right not to vote at all out of a similar general disillusionment with politics.

Many think that voting makes no difference at local, national and, especially, European Parliament level.

For all the improvements needed in the EU, and it was Labour who kept the UK out of the Eurozone, it does have a role in confronting many serious issues we face, including basic rights at work, fighting terrorism and organised crime, and combating climate change. These challenges go way beyond national borders.
For Labour, the highest priority now is securing a lasting economic recovery and dealing with the cost of living crisis.

However, it’s clear that there needs to be, for the first time since a Labour Government called the 1975 Common Market referendum, a serious debate about the nature of the EU and our relationship with it.

People will need the pros and cons of EU membership laid before them, rather than just scare stories.

Again, I understand voters’ anger with the Lib Dems. Another famous Nick Clegg pre-Election pledge in 2010 was “a real referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU”. This promise was dropped once Lib Dems had their ministerial cars!

Voting for councillors is important too. Hull City Council, despite all the recent cuts from Whitehall, influences many of your everyday local services, such as refuse and social services. They also have a role in regeneration issues, for example the Council’s part in the successful 2017 City of Culture bid and attracting Siemens to Hull.

If Hull voters hadn’t put Labour in control of Hull City Council in 2011, thus ending the Lib Dem dispute with the South Bank that had delayed setting up the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership for a year, it’s fair to doubt whether those Siemens jobs would be coming to Hull.

So, although there will not be a General Election on national issues, such as immigration, energy prices and welfare, until 2015 today’s elections do effect you.
Recently I was reminded of the past sacrifices made for our democratic freedoms when I saw the East Yorkshire Regiment’s name carved on a memorial wall at the World War Two Cemetery in Montecassino, Italy.

Many Hull men and women gave their lives, often young lives, to spare us the Nazi tyranny that tried to obliterate our independence and basic liberties. Hull people defied Hitler’s bombs.

Another hero of mine is Emily Wilding Davison. This was the brave Suffragette imprisoned and force-fed under laws passed by the Liberal Government of a century ago. Emily lost her life under the King’s horse at the 1913 Derby so that women would get the vote a few years later.
We owe so many people so much for giving us the platform of democracy upon which to build a better future.

Voting today is a fitting tribute to all those who made - and make now around the World - the ultimate sacrifice for rights that we perhaps take too much for granted.

Diana Johnson
Labour MP for Hull North 

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