People often say that politics doesn’t matter – that even though the government changes the only real difference is the colour of the rosette.
But in one week at the end of last year I voted to end the bedroom tax, protect firefighters’ pensions and support food banks. Had that have gone through – had we had just a few more MPs who thought as we do – there would have been genuine change for the hundreds of thousands of people facing eviction from their homes or the thousands of people in my constituency who have to rely on the kindness of their community to feed their families.
In the end, what matters is who we choose to stand up for. Over the course of this Parliament, I’ve spoken out time and time again both in the Commons chamber and outside as the Tories, backed up by the Liberal Democrats, have voted through changes which my constituents couldn’t afford. They voted to keep zero-hours contracts, voted to introduce the bedroom tax, to increase tuition fees to £9,000, to reduce tax for millionaires and, have created a crisis in our NHS through their costly reorganisation, cuts in staff and social care budgets and in their rush to privatisation.
That record speaks loud and clear about who the Tories are and who they stand up for but also, perversely, it demonstrates something else. It demonstrates that politics does matter – that who we vote in for and who they, in turn, stand up for matters.
I didn’t get into politics to put more money into the pockets of the already wealthy – I started out working with children in care and with young homeless people, asylum seekers and refugees. What connected all of them was that they lacked political power and it has been those people who lack political power who I have stood up for in Parliament.
So this year with only 93 days to go until the General Election I’ll be making the case at street stalls, in workplaces and on the doorstep that this election really does matter and that having a Labour government matters. We would guarantee paid work for young people without a job, build 200,000 homes a year, we would raise the minimum wage, clamp down on exploitative zero hours contracts and we would put people back at the centre of our health service by repealing the Health and Social Care Act and using a Mansion Tax to fund 20,000 more nurses and 8,000 doctors.
Politics matters because the choices politicians make matter. At this election that choice is between a Labour Party which will put communities like mine first and a Conservative Party which will continue to only look after the interests of a few.
Lisa Nandy is the Labour MP for Wigan and Shadow Minister for Civil Society. You can find out more about her and the campaigns she has been running here http://www.lisanandy.co.uk/about/.