Last Friday I launched my Big Conversation, a packed programme of over 60 public meetings and activities across my constituency. The response has been great and I’ve already talked to over 300 people. With two weeks and over 45 more events to go, there’s plenty of opportunity to share your views with me. I hold my annual consultation to keep in touch, this is the third year I’ve done it and the biggest so far.
I’m writing this thinking about the shocking stories I heard last night on Langsett about zero-hours contracts. Earlier yesterday, students at the UTC asked about the economy and a women’s group on Manor Park raised concerns about growing wealth inequality. In Wybourn on Saturday, the bedroom tax was a big issue and on Sunday at the Madina mosque, local Muslims shared their anger that child abusers in Rotherham haven’t been brought to justice. Parents in Nether Edge on Friday raised school admissions and issues in Broomhill ranged from mental health services to the EU.
But this is just a snapshot. We’ve also talked about issues from tackling ISIS to elderly care, from immigration to the NHS. Lots of people have raised Scottish independence and I’ve shared my view that, whatever today’s result is, we must devolve power from London to our big cities and regions.
From the events so far, one thing’s clear, the idea that people don’t care about politics is simply wrong. People feel deeply and passionately about a huge number of issues. The challenge is to show how politics can make a difference. In past years, people raised payday lending with me which is why I then campaigned in Parliament for tougher rules to prevent more people getting ripped off. So if you’re concerned about something on your street or a national issue, I want to hear from you. Your views shape my work and help me represent you in Parliament.
I’m really grateful to the community groups, cafes and churches who are hosting Big Conversation events and working to bring people together. I hope you’ll take a look at the full programme on my website and come along and make your voice heard. I can’t wait to meet and talk to everyone.