Interview with my Labour MP, Rosie Cooper

I am delighted to have interviewed my MP, Rosie Cooper, who congratulated me on starting my blog. I was interested to hear her thoughts on why young people should support The Labour Party and if she thinks Labour can fight back and win the next General Election.

  • How important is it that young people take an interest in politics?

“Decisions taken by governments and councils have an effect on, and consequences for, the lives of young people both today and in the future.  Therefore, young people should have a voice in that decision-making process and to do so need to be engaged and involved.

In an age of social media and email it is increasingly easier for young people to be active participants in the political process, even for those who are not old enough to vote yet.  They can do so in a variety of ways which can influence in the debate on an extensive range of issues.

Taking an interest and being involved in politics is more than just voting at election time.  Technology is breaking down barriers for young people and is giving them much greater choice and opportunity to have their say on issues important to them.

This can only be good for the health and future wellbeing of our democracy.”

  • Do you believe Labour can fight back after the General Election result?

“Yes.  Throughout the 20th century the Labour has constantly fought back from election defeats.  There is no doubt that the election result nationally was deeply disappointing.  There is no immediate and quick fix though.  It is important to understand the reasons why the electorate chose not to return a Labour government.

As a Labour Party we must respond and reflect the concerns of a majority of people across the whole of the UK and rebuild their confidence that a Labour government is good for them and the country.  That we have a set of values and a vision for the country that chimes with their hopes for the future.”

  • Why do you think young people should support the Labour Party?

“For the values of the Labour Party.  For me the decision of which political party to support comes down to values.  No member agrees 100% with every policy position of the party.  Therefore, the bonds that tie a person to their party are the shared values.

For the Labour party those are values of fairness, opportunity, equality, and justice.  A belief that as a society and communities working for the common good we can realise the potential of all people not just a select few.

What this means in practice is a Labour government that invests in education and Sure Start centres and supporting families to give young people the best start in life.  That opens up access to colleges and universities so the are open to all who wish to broaden their choices and opportunities.

A Labour Party that legislated to tackle climate change to improve the environment for future generations.

The values at the very heart of the Labour Party that informs our actions are the reasons why young people who share those values should support the Labour Party.”

Rosie with Gordon Brown, when the Prime Minister visited the constituency
  • Who did you nominate for Labour leader?

“All the candidates with a chance of returning the Labour Party to power had received the required number of nominations.  Therefore, I did not nominate any candidate.”

  • Are you friends with any high-profile members of the House, and what are they like?

“My friends are the people I have known for many years.  The vast majority of whom are not involved in politics. Having been an MP for 10 years and involved in politics for over 40 I know a lot of the high profile members of the House, in particular the Labour front bench members.

I would say though that I have quite an eclectic mix of people that I know in Parliament and would have a cup of tea with.  They are not all Labour Party people as you may perhaps expect.  Through sitting on select committees, Bill committees, All Party Parliamentary Groups and the corridor on which my office is located I’ve met a variety of other Parliamentarians from across the parties.  For example, I get on very well with Angus MacNeill of the SNP and Lord Cormack, previously Sir Patrick Cormack MP.”

  • What are your number one priorities for West Lancashire over the next five years?

My overriding priority for West Lancashire is to deliver improvements and services that will improve the lives of local residents across all communities in West Lancashire.  There is quite an extensive list.  Below is a list of key issues:

  • A railway station for Skelmersdale
  • Protecting vital public services such as the NHS and policing
  • Reinstatement of Burscough curves
  • Delivery of a cemetery and crematorium
  • Tackling flooding that threatens homes and food producing farm land
  • Protecting greenbelt for the benefit of all not the gain of a few
  • Concessionary travel for older people
  • Redevelopment and renewal of our town centres
  • Opposing the bedroom tax
  • Investment in education for the benefit of young people
  • If you could be a member of the cabinet, which role would you like to have?

“To be honest I’ve never had any ambition to be a member of the cabinet.  I enjoy the day to day work of dealing with people’s cases and fighting their corner as hard as I can.  It’s why I got involved in politics and what motivates me to continue doing the job.

If I am required to pick a position, then it would be the Secretary of State for Health having had 30 years involvement in the NHS and a passionate commitment to the principle of a health service free at the point of use.”

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FUNNY FRIDAY: Aguero’s Selfie with Xi Jinping and David Cameron

I have decided to have a new part of the blog called “Funny Friday.” Every Friday I will choose a funny political-related photo and readers of the blog will attempt to come up with suggestions for a funny caption. The funniest suggestions will feature on the blog! There is also the opportunity to add your own suggestions by commenting on the post (please keep it clean!)

This week marked the state visit of Xi Jinping, the President of China, to the UK. Today he visited Manchester and took a selfie with the Prime Minister David Cameron and Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero.

My favourite caption was by Angelo. His caption was: “Aguero suffers a selfie-inflicted injury.” I have posted more of my favourite captions below.

Aguero selfie

  • “Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right…” (Tarquin)
  • “Cameron posing with his favourite Villa players” (Richard)
  • “We can sell him to you, for a good price.” (Neil)
  • David: “Don’t forget me, forget me, I also want to be popular.” (Liam)
  • “Two inspirational men and David.” (Alise)
  • Aguero: “Look mate, I don’t care who you say you are, I only want a photo with the Chinese Leader.” (John)
  • Cameron (to Aguero): “While I’m giving Britain away, you lot still interested in the Falklands?” (Colin)
  • Xi: “David, you said we were meeting the best striker in England”
    David: “Yes, that’s right”
    Xi: “He does not look like Wayne Rooney” 
    (Ben)
  • “And Man City are steel conservative around the pitch” (Tom)
  • David: “Keep earning a lot of money please. I like my taxes off you” (Chris)
  • “When I said to my mate ‘PM me and we’ll go for a Chinese after training,’ this was not what I meant!” (Simon)
  • “When he gets back to China, everyone’s gonna ask ‘Who’s that prat on the right?'” (Wilkins)
  • “David – what are you doing?” (Wiktor)
  • “There’s always someone to spoil the photo..” (Rachel)
  • “All 3 are just here for the money” (Ben)
  • “Take another selfie – we must try to look as human as possible – because if they realise we need to eat human flesh to stabilise our DNA the elite will be over” (Jane)
  • Xi: “See, I can buy any number 10 I like.” (Ian)
  • David: “Man City, if you’re interested I could get you a good deal and we’ll throw in HS2 and a couple of power stations.” (Wilkins)

And, as expected, there were quite a few pig-related captions…

  • “A pig’s eye view” (Neil)
  • “Bring home the bacon Davey” (William)
  • “3 filthy rich pigs! But only one pig abuser!!!!?” (From Michael)
  • “Three Little Pigs” (Maxim)
  • “Bacon sandwich or sweet and sour chicken?” (Terry)

Come back next week for the second edition of “Funny Friday” !

POLL: The House of Lords – Should we keep it or scrap it?

The House of Lords is the upper house in the British Parliament, but is it really necessary? Many feel it is undemocratic whilst others believe it is vital in blocking laws. Read the pros and cons and then cast your vote below

Pros

  • The house is full of expertise
  • They can block laws if they disagree with the government
  • Usually vote with public opinion

Cons

  • Lords are not elected by the public
  • Some Lords claim their expenses and don’t fully engage with the political process
  • No fixed terms – Lords sit for life

lords

Interview with Richard Corbett (Deputy Leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party)

I am grateful that the deputy leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party has been able to answer some questions for the blog. He is the second MEP I have interviewed.

  • How important is it that young people take an interest in politics?

“It is very important: politics shapes the future even more than the present, so young people will be the most affected of all.”

  • Why did you decide to join The Labour Party?

“I joined when I was 18 because I believe in a fairer society and I think that free markets need to be corrected in the public interest to give everybody a fair chance, to help the weakest in society and to protect consumers and the environment.”

  • What does your role as Deputy Leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party involve?

“It means I replace the leader in various meetings when she cannot attend and I am also in charge of EPLP administration, staff matters and finance.”

  • Do you think Britain should remain in the EU, and why?

“Yes, for idealistic pragmatic and selfish reasons. See: http://www.richardcorbett.org.uk/what-europe-is-for/

  • Do you have any funny stories from your time in politics?

“Yes! See : http://www.richardcorbett.org.uk/fun/

richard corbett

POLL: Fracking – should it be banned?

Fracking is one of the most controversial issues in politics and there are two clear sides to the argument. Find out the pros and cons of drilling for shale gas and then cast your vote in the poll below.

Pros (For Fracking)

  • Gas can be extracted
  • Provides jobs
  • Can lead to cheaper energy

Cons (Against Fracking)

  • Water and air can be polluted
  • Can be harmful to people’s health
  • Noise pollution for local residents

fracking

Interview with Julie Cooper (Labour MP for Burnley)

Here is the interview I completed after the General Election with Labour’s newly elected MP for Burnley, Julie Cooper

  • How important is it that young people take an interest in politics?

“I think it is important that everyone takes an interest in politics because politics affects everyone and everything. Politics is about determining priorities. Politics decides what jobs are available, what our schools offer, the type of house we live in, the leisure options we have, whether or not there is a train or a plane for us to catch and a million other things. It is especially important for young people to get involved because they are the future and their voice should be heard when it comes to selecting priorities.”

  • What was it like to win back the Burnley seat from the Lib Dems?

 “It was wonderful to win the seat in Burnley. For me personally it was a great moment because have wanted to be Burnley’s MP for a long time. I have been totally committed to winning this election for five years and I have worked tirelessly with unfailing passion. More importantly I believe that Labour is best for Burnley.”  

  • Why should young people support the Labour Party? 

“I think young people should support the Labour Party because it is a broad minded, forward looking Party that understands that working together we can achieve so much more than we can individually.  The Labour Party welcomes and values all: young or old, black or white, male or female, gay or straight, able bodied or disabled. A belief in fairness and equality of opportunity is at the heart of everything that Labour believes.”

  • What do Labour need to do to win the next General Election? 

“I think the fight to win the next election starts now. To win the next General election Labour needs to convey its message better. At the recent election we had good policies but collectively we did not present them effectively as part of a joined up plan. It is always a challenge for Labour because the media for the most part have a strong right wing bias. I often read reports of events that I have attended and by the time the journalist has finished I don’t recognise it because things are taken out of context and some things aren’t mentioned at all. We have to reach out and we have to listen to the concerns that people have. We have to engage widely ensuring that people understand that we are the only genuine ‘One Nation’ Party dedicated to representing the interests of all in a decent, fair fashion. We also have to work hard to build trust. We have to demonstrate that we are worth voting for because we do what we say we are going to do.” 

  • Do you have any funny stories from your time in politics? 

“There have been lots of strange moments but not one single funny moment that stands out. During the last five years me and my team would probably have gone under if it had not been able to laugh at it all. We have trudged round in all weathers day after day knocking on doors speaking to thousands of people. We have had things thrown at us, gifts of gloves and cups of tea and even lost fingers (when an over protective dog became too attached to my colleague’s finger). Of course in the end all the work paid off and ensured that we all had plenty to smile about. Now it is my job to give the people of Burnley and Padiham things to smile about.”

Julie Cooper