I’m Jill Payne your Labour Party Candidate for Eastleigh in the forthcoming General Election. I have lived and worked in Eastleigh Town Centre for the last 13 years as a Customer Service Officer in one of the banks where I am also a Unite Workplace Representative. I live with my partner and have two adult sons. I first studied economics and politics at A level locally and in so doing started to become aware of the inequalities and injustices that exist within our society and the detrimental effect that this can have on the life chances of so many. I have been a Labour Party supporter since then and campaigned actively as a member when I have been able. Recently I have campaigned locally on a number of issues including support for the NHS, More for Moorgreen hospital, closure of Sure Start Centres and re-nationalisation of the Railways.
Eastleigh was built around the railways and we should be encouraged to use it as a more environmentally friendly option than adding to road congestion and pollution through the use of cars. However large increases in fares since privatisation have resulted in some of the highest rail fares in Europe meaning that Eastleigh residents and workers are paying more and more of their salary to get to work. Privatisation has not worked in the Railways it has become fragmented and inefficient and costs the tax payer more in real terms due to government subsidies, shareholder and chief executive pay-outs.
On the economy I am appalled that after 7 years of Conservative and Coalition government’s austerity we are seeing a crisis in all areas of public service provision: health; social care; housing; education; local government; emergency services; prison service and defence. Alongside dramatic real cuts to budgets in all areas we have seen an unprecedented attack on the poorest and most vulnerable through cuts to benefits and at the same time the Conservative government reduced taxation for the rich through cuts in income, inheritance and capital gains tax alongside continued cuts to Corporation tax. We have seen a further generational redistribution of wealth away from the young through increased housing costs, student tuition fees and cuts to grants and benefits to those under 25. I believe that this represents a fundamental attack on our Welfare state and is driven as much by Conservative attachment to privatisation and the free market economy than to failed austerity which has seen the country’s debt to GDP ratio increase since the crash.
On Brexit, whilst voting Remain, I accept the outcome of the Referendum in line with Labour Party policy but very much reject Theresa May’s combative stance to the rest of Europe. I believe that we will need friends in Europe, skilful negotiations and a lot of good will and should start by unilaterally guaranteeing the rights of European citizens in the UK. I believe the worst possible outcome would be a “no deal” forcing the UK to operate under World Trade Organisation tariffs that would be disastrous for our economy and would allow the Conservative government to carry out its threat to turn the UK into a tax haven on the edge of Europe by initiating further cuts to Corporation tax. I have a strong commitment to see legislation protecting worker rights and environmental protection remains after Brexit.
Labour has a clear set of policies designed to rebuild our welfare state and to tackle increased insecurities in housing and in the workplace and to tackle poverty generally. Labour’s ten pledges set out the framework for our campaign and will include targeted investment in social housing, infrastructure and industry including support for new technologies to turn the UK into a low carbon economy. We will introduce legislation to ensure better rights for tenants, workers and to protect the environment. We will look to build a new National Education Service and bring about the progressive restoration of free education for all. We are one of the richest countries in the world and with the political will to do so we can work towards an economically and environmentally sustainable future putting social justice and environmental issues at the heart of decision making.