Three and a half years ago, I believed that this government would lead us into trouble, and thought my experience would be useful. I decided to stand against the government in my home county. My mistake was only to underestimate the damage Labour would do.
I’ve seen how angry fellow residents are with the Prime Minister who promised an end to boom and bust, only to take us into the biggest bust for 70 years. Businesses are frustrated with the lack of apprentices. The public sector knows that money is wasted – government advertising spend was up last year while front line services at our hospital are cut or threatened. The pensioners know Gordon Brown raided their pension fund dividends and sold all our gold at a record low. And parents worry for their young, when university studies lead to debts not jobs.
We are the sick man of Europe today – with the greatest percentage of debt to GDP of developed nations. This government has no rival to wasting taxpayer money. Our own MP’s pet project – the regionalisation of our Fire Control centre – is now £300m over budget, and at least two years behind deadline. Imagine what we could do with £300 million. Regenerate the Railway Triangle, build a new stadium for GCFC, create a new athletics track, buy out and do up two dozen messy houses, fill in every pothole – you name it.
Yet it doesn’t have to be like this. With new political leadership lots can be achieved.
Here in Gloucester I will spread regeneration throughout the city, as well as the Docks, so that the Railway Triangle looks totally different in ten years time; build new houses on brown field sites; bring new sports events to our city – as I have done with the Gloucester 20/20s this summer; support vocational education and introduce more real apprenticeships to support manufacturers like Messier-Dowty who provide jobs for our young.
And I will continue to listen to and work with the vulnerable, the mentally ill and the disabled across all communities. I will not close the city council, our grammar schools or Post Offices – and will give our city decent leadership: aware of our history, and focused on achieving new and great things together. It really is time for change.