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An Open Letter from Martyn Pennington, Liberal Democrat Candidate for North Thanet

May 14, 2017 9:05 PM
By Martyn Pennington

Martyn Pennington 2017Dear voters of North Thanet,

Our country is at an important moment in our history, and the coming General Election is one where we need to get it right. The Conservative Party has called this election for cynical political reasons, just as it called the referendum. This is not the Conservative Party I grew up with; the 'one nation' party of Harold Macmillan, John Major or even of Margaret Thatcher. It is close to UKIP, and is one of division and privilege. They are the "new kippers".

I re-joined the Liberal Democrats in 2014 because I believe upholding British values doesn't simply mean telling foreigners to go home. Liberal Democrats are for an open, tolerant and united country, one which is forward-looking and confident. We are patriots - we love our country - not nationalists who hate their neighbours. We believe that, if we are outside the European Union, we should be part of the single market. The Tory Government has already rejected this option, meaning that they have already rejected 'the best possible deal' - our companies will therefore find exports are more difficult, jobs will be more at risk, and there will be less money for the more vulnerable in our society. So much for strong leadership.

The Liberal Democrats had many successes in coalition - we brought in better parental leave, free school meals for young children, the pupil premium to help children of poorer families, more apprenticeships, higher income-tax thresholds for low earners, the triple-lock pension, the 'greening' of our energy industries, and plenty of others. We have lots of ideas - including wholesale reform of the services for health and care of the elderly, to provide better value for money and better care. We believe small businesses play a key role in the local economy and should be helped not milked. We want to see our children growing up to have decent jobs, and providing for their families. We'd like to see Manston developed as an aviation services hub to provide high-level training and employment for our youngsters.

Thanet is much poorer than the rest of Kent; for instance, the percentage of jobseekers is double the Kent average, those on disability allowance 50% higher, and those in bad or very bad health also 50% higher. The percentage of children in poverty is around 20% in Birchington South, Westgate and Garlinge, and 16% in Westbrook. In Herne Bay, things are little better, with many workers in low-paid jobs in the retail and healthcare sectors.

Decades of Tory Government have done nothing to change this - on the contrary, we have seen the rich in power, while we are faced with the closure of local surgeries and more congestion in our hospitals, hundreds of carers for the elderly simply giving up their jobs every week, no support for those with mental illness, fewer teachers in our schools, more congestion on our roads, less funding for the police, and so on - in other words, more Tory Government.

Liberal Democrats are the option for positive change - change for a better, more progressive, technologically forward-looking and compassionate Britain. Vote for us on 8 June, we will not fail you.