I would like to put on record a big thank you to everyone who cast their votes in support of the Labour Party in the General Election. I know there is a great sense of disappointment felt by myself, Party members and supporters that we did not do better; but such is politics and now our attention must focus on the future.
The role we now have is to hold Gordon Henderson and his Conservative Government to their promises. Holding them to account for the things that were never raised during the campaign, least of all telling us where the £12 billion cuts to the welfare budget will come from and making sure they do not work against the best interests of residents.
During the campaign I spoke with too many working residents who are struggling to make ends meet, many whose future is uncertain; many calling for a living wage not a low wage. After those entitled to a pension the second largest group receiving welfare payments are people in work. Is the £12 billion welfare cut to be at their expense, if not then at whose?
There has been no answer to the call coming from residents who serve in local public services, from the Prison Service to Kent Fire & Rescue. From Police officers to Teachers, all are finding their professionalism and sense of duty jeopardised as they are ordered to do more with less.
Even the promise to support our NHS is vague on where this support will come from. There is no proposal to rebuild the capacity of local GP services and no ambition to rebuild our economy with something other than low wage jobs adding yet further pressure on our local infrastructure.
I have been frustrated by what I have heard over the last five years, a frustration compounded by a lack of ambition shown by our civic leadership. I am concerned about the future and how we can repair the deep fracture of social inequality found in the community.
I hope that Gordon Henderson takes his second term as MP to prove me wrong and he ups his game; but I fear I will be even more frustrated after another five years pass by.