Pete from Stapleford
I’ve been getting many pro-Remain friends from around the country contacting me because they know I live in Broxtowe. They’re asking me why I am not supporting Anna Soubry. Some of them have been quite surprised by this and I wanted to put them straight.
So why I am Voting Labour in Broxtowe? Here are just seven of the several reasons:
1. The Labour candidate, Greg Marshall, is excellent. He knows the area and its issues inside out. He has been a champion of local folk as a councillor. He is an environmentalist and has done loads – much more than Ms Soubry – to support people and businesses struggling with the savage impact of the cuts. This includes Broxtowe Council adopting the living wage for employees and a no eviction policy for those hit by the bedroom tax policy. He was standing up against fracking while Anna Soubry was a minister in the government that championed it.
2. Anna Soubry was part of the Conservative government that brought in austerity. Time and again she went on Question Time, Newsnight and the rest to defend cuts to disability support, the introduction of the bedroom tax, and so on. Some people say austerity doesn’t matter anymore, that stopping Brexit is the main thing. I might be tempted to think twice if Ms Soubry expressed any regret for the misery caused by a government in which she was variously a minister for business and health. But she categorically refuses to say anything apart from how necessary austerity was and what a supposedly good economic job the Coalition did. No remorse. I’d rather vote for someone who will help repair the malignant effects of austerity whilst also putting forward the option of another second referendum.
3. When the local Tories were running the Borough Council between 2015-19, they brought in some of the foulest cuts imaginable including abolishing the vital post and work of the Domestic Violence Co-ordinator. Ms Soubry defended them to the hilt. Prior to then the Labour led administration had tried to do the best it could after Broxtowe had been given the worst local government settlement for an authority of its kind in the country – hardly evidence of a high-ranking constituency MP standing up for her constituents.
4. Greg has fought a clean and positive campaign, based on hope and optimism and community building. I had hoped that once free of Conservative baggage, Anna Soubry might change her tune. But nonetheless she still peddles misinformation, sneers at ordinary people getting involved in politics and uses vitriolic language to attack decent Labour activists. Ms Soubry fibs using paid social media ads because she has next to no support on the ground to make her case face to face with the constituents with whom she has lost touch.
5. I totally condemn the abuse Ms Soubry receives from the far right. If I had to put myself in the way to defend her against physical attack, I would do so. Given Greg is a seasoned activist who has put his body on the line against the BNP in the past before, I’m sure he would too. But that does not mean I support her politically. And the way she uses the word “extreme” to conflate fascists and good Labour folk is both offensive and disingenuous. I am a “Trotskyite Thug” and we are “bullies” and “commies” and “terrorist loving” “racists” for even thinking of voting Labour: this is a risible level of analysis. Ironic isn’t when it was Labour activists who led the counter-demonstration this week against the so-called English Democrats who organised a ‘rally’ consisting of a handful of people. Greg’s supporters turned up and took issue with them and their disturbing pronouncements, including their denunciation of Anna Soubry as a ‘traitor’.
6. On Brexit, Ms Soubry was attending Cabinet when they agreed the timetable for the Referendum. She was therefore part of the same government that had NO PLAN for what would happen if Leave won. She has also mocked and belittled Leave voters, compounding a problem that should have been addressed from the outset by conversation and bridge building. She talks of “poisoned politics”. That’s hard to take when her definition of poisonous is anyone who doesn’t offer her their support. Greg backs another confirmatory vote but, unlike Ms Soubry, has the courtesy and local nous to be able to talk to people across both sides of the gaping Brexit chasm. Because, you know, other things matter and shape how people vote not to mention live their lives. According to Anna Soubry, that makes Greg a militant Brexiteer. No, it is not. I call it the making of an excellent local MP prepared to work for the best for all constituents.
7. Ms Soubry is saying only she can defeat the Brexiteer Tory. That’s not true despite whatever some partisan sponsored tactical voting sites might say. In fact, she is a long way behind Labour – and I say that based on the latest polling figures, constituency canvassing returns, local bookmakers odds, and reliably impartial tactical voting sites. If anything, her continuing attacks on Labour are strengthening the likelihood of a hard Brexiting Tory winning here. But – as is often the case – her ego comes before anything else, including the facts.
You may notice I have referred to Greg Marshall by his first name and his ‘independent’ opponent by her formal name. I’ve thought about that. I think it owes to two things:
1) Greg is known. Most people know him to talk to, even if they disagree with him, and know that he is respectful and has the best interests of the community and country at heart. By contrast Ms Soubry is a media construct: remote and unavailable to her constituents but always ready to provide soundbites to hangers on in the Westminster bubble who regard her as a bit of character. To many voters Anna Soubry is characteristically rude, often spiteful, and confrontational. I find it odd how people who don’t know Broxtowe seem to presume to know what’s best for us and get it so spectacularly wrong. Ms Soubry has been a divisive local MP – to the extent that a lot of local Lib Dems (who have been encouraged to campaign for her by the party central command) cannot support her- and are also saying so publicly. These include the parliamentary candidate from 2017 who by rights should have been standing this time.
2) on a personal note (and, yes, I’m fully aware of my inbuilt biases), Greg is a mate, a damned good egg, a genuinely compassionate and caring human being who I trust. I realise I might be talking to sympathisers here. But with so many folk I know (from outside Broxtowe) demanding I vote and even campaign for Anna Soubry, I thought I need to set the record straight. Hope this clears things up.