Gordon Brown, yesterday, and following his meeting in Coventry; arrived in sunny Wirral to speak in support of Alison McGovern, MP for Wirral South at an event held in the Leverhulme Hotel in Port Sunlight.
In a packed room, which included a very large number of young voters Alison and Gordon were received with a standing ovation as they entered to give their speeches.
Several Labour Party officials within Merseyside attended, including our region’s new Mayor, Steve Rotherham.
Alison McGovern is currently Labour’s MP in the constituency of Wirral South, although technically now that the election has been called, all MP’s across the country are no longer MPs as they stand for re-election on 8th June; their fate being in the hands of the people.
Alison opened the meeting with a few words of thanks to all her local officials and to Labour Party voters who elected her at the last General Election in 2015 and previously in the 2010 General Election; winning what was previously a safe seat for the Tories.
Her message to those assembled was clear and unambiguous – the country desperately needs a Labour victory on 8th June!
She detailed some of the problems in the area and re-iterated Labour’s commitment to the people of Wirral South and to provide a climate where a decent standard of living is possible for the region’s pensioners and disabled and to tackle the massive decline in the health service since the Tories came to power.
Introducing her previous boss, Gordon Brown, she thanked him in advance for all the support she had received from him and recalled the days when she worked for him in his office at Westminster as his ‘bag carrier’, from where she learned so much; enabling her to stand for election in 2010, encouraged by her ‘mentor’.
Gordon Brown stood to a rapturous applause, received by the large number of young voters in attendance as if he were a rock star!
He began his hour long speech by thanking Alison for inviting him to the meeting and everyone for attending.
Following huge praise for Alison’s work at Westminster both since 2010 and prior when she was far more than his ‘bag carrier’, because of her ability to speak up and raise many issues with him which did inform his view on Labour Party stance on social issues particularly.
The start of his speech was indeed humorous as he spoke of Einstein and his chauffeur’s attempt to give one of his speeches instead of him!
But then began what can only be described as him being ‘on fire’ in his castigation of Theresa May and her wish for a one party state, her desire for a Hard-Brexit which will cause untold damage to manufacturing in this area, especially the motor industry in the form of the Vauxhall plant in Wirral; and the ‘shocking’ state of the NHS and our Schools.
Referring specifically to the motor industry he said:
“The only people to stand up for manufacturing in the North West is Labour!”
Continuing he said of May’s demand for a one party state and a hard Brexit:
“She cannot be allowed to have a blank cheque on UK manufacturing and end up with huge tariffs being placed on the cars made here in the North West!
Labour is demanding a champion for manufacturing in the UK and a local champion for manufacturing in the North West!”
He told the audience that he was “Shocked to see what has happened to the NHS” saying he never thought he’d ever see the day when the situation in the NHS was even worse than in Thatcher’s day!
“It is shocking to see that 25,000 cancer patients are waiting for treatment and have not been seen within the 62 day deadline. These cancer patients are being denied life-saving treatment and the Tories have failed to confirm they will uphold the 62 day target for the treatment of cancer patients if re-elected!”
He added: “There are now 4 million people on the NHS waiting list and the 18 week target for referrals to be seen, has been missed and will be next year and the year after, Theresa May admits!
I know this has not yet been tested, but the government must be breaking the law by refusing to put in the financial resources needed to maintain this target.”
Referring to the building programme within the NHS, he said:
“The money for hospital buildings has been siphoned off and there is now £1.2 billion less for capital building expenditure in the NHS budget.”
He condemned the number of children now waiting for mental health treatment and the lack of ring fencing of NHS budgets for mental health services and children and young adults mental health NHS support in particular.
Concluding his coverage of the state of the NHS, Gordon said:
“When you are out there, and on every door stop, the Tories have got to be challenged on their record of presiding over the decline and failure of the NHS, and their programme of NHS privatisation!”
This was met with resounding applause.
Turning to the state of education in this country since the Tories took over in 2010, he addressed the young members of the audience, telling them:
“The Tories are making cuts of £4 million in local schools in Wirral South alone, and there is no money for building new schools and the repair work needed in so many existing schools.
Yet, the Tories can find the money for new Grammar schools and so-called Free schools!”
He added: “Tuition fees are increasing and limiting working parents children’s right to decent education and opportunities which our young people need. The country’s future is with our young people and only a Labour Government can provide the necessary funding and abolish those tuition fees!”
Poverty is shocking under the Tories he said, detailing the record of the Labour Governments since Thatcher’s 80s and early 90s, and reminding people of the decline since 2010.
“Food banks are increasing, and in the North West some are running out of food and had to resort to appeals in the local media in order to feed those who cannot afford to even buy food for their children and families!
Child and pensioner poverty was such that in Thatcher’s day, 4 million children where living in total poverty, and now, it is back to that figure and rising!”
“There will be over 400,000 pensioner in the UK living in abject poverty, not being able to heat their homes, or put food on the table; by 2020!
In the first 5 years of Tory rule the number of children living in poverty has risen to 3.9 million, and now it has risen to 4.1 Million in the last couple of years!
The Institute of Fiscal Studies, highly respected and independent from Government are forecasting that figure to rise to 5.1 million before 2020 if future funding cuts under the Tories take place.
Increases of 2% in Child Benefits payments, 4% in tax credits does not keep up with the cost of living which has risen by 35%! As a result poverty in the UK is worse than ever it was under Thatcher’s hey day!”
Concluding he said:
“It is not just the use of food banks, the level of poverty in this country that will rise if she [Theresa May] gets a free hand to deliver a hard Brexit.
That is why on 8th June the country needs a new Labour Government. So let’s get out into the streets and campaign hard for a labour victory on 8th June!”
A standing ovation was the response. along with cheers and hand clapping.
It was announced that Gordon was now available for ‘selfies’ that the young people had asked for, but first a photograph of every one gathered around Gordon and Alison would be taken.
In the end the queue for a picture with Gordon Brown went on for a good 15 minutes, such was his popularity, with one young woman jumping up and down shrieking after the pic was taken on her phone!
Willam Shortall traveled over by bus from West Derby in Liverpool for the event saying afterwards: “Wasn’t he just on fire! Such a pity the media weren’t there, although they would have twisted his words no doubt.”
Observers would have been blind not to see that Gordon Brown’s standing amongst Labour voters certainly has not been dented by the media’s continued slandering of his time as PM and previously as Chancellor of the Exchequer!