Promoted by David Beale, 36 Pleasant View, Withnell, Chorley PR6 8SE on behalf of Martin Powell-Davies of TUSC.

Friday 21 June 2024

Answering Questions from Chorley School Students

As a teacher myself, I have been impressed by the efforts to increase engagement with the General Election by staff and students at one of Chorley's secondary schools - Parklands High. 

Alfie, the Year 8 editor of their pupil run school newspaper is planning to issue a special edition for the General Election, writing to all Chorley candidates to ask nine questions that they think pupils would like answered. 

So, if you are a Parklands High pupil or parent, look out for the edition that has everyone's answers but here are mine:

My page in the 'The Big Parklands Paper'

1.    Why are you standing to be the MP for Chorley?
I am standing to give voters in Chorley a real choice, a chance to elect an MP who will speak up in their interests - for homes, health and public services - instead of the constituency having to just return a ‘Speaker’ who has no vote in Parliament.

To clarify my point - screenshots taken from the "TheyWorkForYou" website

2.    Why should people vote for you as MP?
As a trade unionist, socialist and community campaigner, I have spent all my life organising – and winning – to improve the lives, pay and conditions of the workers and communities that I represent. I’m not standing for my personal gain but to use my experience and passion to win change for Chorley. I would do so as a “Workers’ MP on a Worker’s Wage”, remaining on a teachers’ salary, not the £91,000 paid to an MP, and certainly not the £171,000 paid to the Speaker!

Figures taken from BBC News sources for April 2024 salaries

3.    As an MP, what policies would you introduce to help school children?
As a science teacher for over 30 years, I have seen class sizes shoot up, special needs support slashed, staff driven out by unrelenting workload and schools turned into ‘exam factories’ rather than places where every student can thrive. I would speak out for the policies set out in (my union) the National Education Union’s ‘Manifesto for Change’ which calls for an end to cuts and child poverty, an engaging and inclusive curriculum, and an end to the exam factory culture.

4.    How will you help ensure that schools get more funding?
School budgets in Chorley have been cut by a staggering £7M in real terms since 2010. Instead of demanding that the enormous wealth in our unequal society is used to fund schools, both main parties are agreed that they will maintain a tight hold on spending. So, winning better funding is going to need parents, students and school staff to get organised. As MP, I can use my position to help lead those struggles, in the House of Commons, at local demos and meetings, and on the picket lines of school staff unions taking action to demand the funds we need.


5.    What plans do you have to support disadvantaged children in schools?
Firstly, that disadvantage needs to be tackled in the communities our schools serve. I stand for a minimum wage of at least £15 an hour, for a cap on soaring rents, for a benefits system which is based on actual need and a reversal of the cuts to our NHS, social care, mental health and youth services. In school itself, every child should have a free nutritious school lunch, and support based on need instead of resources being blocked by bureaucracy and a cap on council budgets.

6.    How will you raise awareness of current international issues (for example Gaza and Haiti)?
I will be an MP who, in the words of Keir Hardie, one of the first ever trade unionists to be elected, won’t be ‘silenced nor controlled’. So, I will speak up against injustice, inside and outside Parliament, both in Britain and across the globe. I would speak up for a permanent ceasefire and demand an end to the siege of Gaza to allow urgent action on its health, housing, food and sanitation crisis. I will call for the global solidarity needed to reverse disastrous climate change and to prevent the disintegration of countries like Haiti where people have been left by the world’s powerful to face poverty and violence for too long.

Both parties fear the presence of [MPs] whom they can neither SILENCE nor CONTROL"

7.    How will you ensure I can buy a home in Chorley when I grow up?
Everyone should have the right to a safe, secure, and genuinely affordable home. For those who want to buy – an impossible dream for so many nowadays ! – there should be cheap low-interest mortgages for home buyers. But we also need the mass building of high-quality, carbon-neutral council housing to provide the homes we need and rent controls and an end to ‘no fault evictions’ too.

8.    How will you ensure that schools remain inclusive, given recent government guidance on issues such as transchildren?
Hated for the way they have served the wealthy instead of the working-class, some Tories have tried to divert opposition by spreading anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ+ scare stories. I would urge Chorley voters not to fall for those ‘divide-and-rule’ tactics. Schools must be inclusive places where every young person feels secure, and staff can ensure student welfare is always the highest priority.

9.    What will be your first priority when elected?
To meet with all the many different parts of the Chorley community that have already contacted me about the issues they face: trade unionists, young people and parents; hospital campaigners and those demanding action on war and climate change; all the many local people we have met on the doorsteps and on our stalls who are struggling with the ongoing cost-of-living crisis. As Bob Crow, the union leader who first helped found the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition famously said “If you fight you won't always win. But if you don't fight you will always lose”. I intend to be a workers’ MP that can give people confidence that, together, we can win change for Chorley – and for working people across Britain.

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