Today we launched Labour’s manifesto for the East Midlands. Our fantastic Leicester West campaign team joined Labour candidates and members from across the region to hear Ed Balls give a great speech about Labour’s record and plans for the future.
Ed set out a powerful vision for the East Midlands as a region of industrial strength, creating future prosperity and good quality jobs for all. He talked about the improvements we’ve already made in the NHS and local schools, and how we’ll make more changes in the years ahead. This includes a guarantee that patients will see a cancer specialist within 2 weeks, and get their test results back within a week, a promise of one-to-one tuition for children who are falling behind in primary schools and early in secondary schools, and a guarantee of an education or training place for every child up to the age of 18.
I thought the most powerful points Ed made were about Labour’s plans to provide more help for hard working families. Labour will increase paternity pay from 2 to 4 weeks, to help new dads spend the crucial first month of life with their babies, and we’ll introduce a new Toddlers Tax Credit and free nursery places for 2 year olds, to help families with the costs of childcare.
The contrast with the Tories couldn’t be more stark. Ed reminded us that – for all their claims of being family friendly – the Tories voted against Labour’s increases in maternity pay (now up to 9 months) and the new rights we’ve given parents to request flexible working. Now they want to cut Child Tax Credits and cut our fantastic Sure Start services for ordinary hard working people, but give an inheritance tax cut that will benefit the 3,000 wealthiest families.
And the Tories want to ‘send a signal’ that marriage is best through their marriage tax allowance. This won’t help any couple where both parents work, or single parents, widows or widowers. And it shows how stuck in the past the Tories are – they simply fail to recognise that stable, loving families come in all shapes and sizes these days.
I’m proud of the difference Labour has made in Leicester West. I’m not complacent – far from it: I know much more still needs to change here. But I believe Labour’s experience in Government, and our plans for the future, will help make all our communities even better places to live and work.