My name is Richard Wilson and I was recently selected to be Labour’s parliamentary candidate for the constituency of Guildford which includes Cranleigh. I am a 42-year old airline Captain and I have lived in Surrey for 14 years. In 2015 I will be asking voters here to trust me with their votes to be their next MP. It is a great honour for me to represent Cranleigh albeit only as a candidate at this stage.
As the largest village in England, Cranleigh has the advantages and disadvantages of both villages and towns. The roads cannot cope with the current traffic levels, never mind projected future car traffic. House prices are unaffordable for young families. Household bills like electricity, gas, rent and child care are rocketing but wages can’t keep up. Our environment is under threat from unsustainable development and now dangerous fracking for gas. Like everywhere in England, the NHS is under attack. Every part of it is deteriorating under the Conservative-led government. Waiting times are rising in A&E, to see a GP, for cancer treatment, just like in the 1980s.
From speaking to people in Cranleigh, I believe Labour values are part of life here. Villagers want hope for young people here, to buy a home, to have a job that pays a decent wage, high quality state education and free child care. As a country, we desperately need more homes built. We need affordable housing for families and smaller homes for the elderly to be able to downsize to. Labour has pledged to build 200,000 new homes per year in the UK.
In Cranleigh, this needs to be combined with sustainable transportation and other infrastructure. Conservative Surrey County Council just raised Council Tax by the maximum allowed for the third year running. They underspent their education budget so many parents are finding they can’t get any of their choices of school places for their children. The state of the roads in Surrey would shame a third world country.
Since Cranleigh, and Ewhurst, share Labour’s values of a fair and tolerant society, why are there two Ukip councillors here? Well, the voters didn’t elect them. They became Ukippers after being elected. Like many right-wing parties across Europe, Ukip are pushing xenophobic buttons. The National Front in France recently made gains in council elections. The anti-Semitic Geert Wilders in the Netherlands and the nationalist True Finns in Finland are just a couple of examples.
However, I believe Ukip’s rhetoric won’t work in Cranleigh. We’re better than that. The sensible voters here will see through their attempts to whip up the worst in people. On 22 May 2014, everyone will be able to vote to elect our next MEPs to represent the South East in Brussels. Every vote will count in the proportional representation system used for this election. A Labour vote in Cranleigh will count as much as a Labour vote in Reading or Brighton or Slough.
The last date to register to vote, if you are not already on the electoral roll, is 6 May. You can apply for a postal vote up until 7 May.
Please use your vote to show that Ukip don’t share Cranleigh’s values.