Pudsey general election Labour Party candidate Ian McCargo, answers readers’ questions ahead of the election. A full list of candidates and their responses can be found here.
1. What is your party going to do to make sure my kids have good education opportunities?
I believe Early Years is the most important stage of education for us to get right. Labour will do the following:
- Overhaul the existing childcare system in which subsidies are given directly to parents who often struggle to use them, and transition to a system of high-quality childcare places in mixed environments with direct government subsidy.
- Maintain current commitments on free hours and make significant capital investment during our first two years of government, to ensure that the places exist to meet demand.
- Phase in subsidised provision on top of free-hour entitlements, to ensure that everyone has access to affordable childcare, no matter their working pattern.
- Transition to a qualified, graduate-led workforce, by increasing staff wages and enhancing training opportunities. This will benefit staff, who are among our worst-paid workers, and improve child development.
- Extend the 30 free hours to all two- year-olds, and move towards making some childcare available for one- year-olds and extending maternity pay to 12 months.
Sure Start, and the support it gives to vulnerable and hard-to-reach parents, was one of the great achievements of the previous Labour government, but under the Conservatives 1,200 Sure Start centres have been lost. Labour will halt the closures and increase the amount of money available for Sure Start.
In terms of schools, Labour’s schools policy will be built on the following four foundations:
- Investment – we will make sure schools are properly resourced by reversing the Conservatives’ cuts and ensuring that all schools have the resources they need. We will introduce a fairer funding formula that leaves no school worse off, while redressing the historical underfunding of certain schools. Labour will also invest in new school buildings, including the phased removal of asbestos from existing schools.
- Quality – we will drive up standards across the board, learning from examples of best practice, such as Labour’s London Challenge, to encourage co-operation and strong leadership across schools. We trust in teachers and support staff professionalism to refocus their workload on what happens in the classroom.
- Accountability – Labour will ensure that all schools are democratically accountable, including appropriate controls to see that they serve the public interest and their local communities. We will require joined-up admissions policies across local schools to enable councils to fulfil their responsibilities on child places, to simplify the admissions process for parents and to ensure that no child slips through the net.
- Inclusion – Every child is unique, and a Labour-led education system will enable each to find their learning path through a wide choice of courses and qualifications. We will invest in measures to close the attainment gap between children from different backgrounds.
To give all children the best start in life, we will reduce class sizes to less than 30 for all five-, six-, and seven- year-olds, and seek to extend that as resources allow.
To aid attainment, we will introduce free school meals for all primary school children, paid for by removing the VAT exemption on private school fees.
Labour would introduce free, lifelong education in Further Education (FE) colleges, enabling everyone to upskill or retrain at any point in life.
Labour will reintroduce maintenance grants for university students, and we will abolish university tuition fees.
2. What is your stance on the three million EU citizens living in the UK?
I want all EU citizens who are currently living in the UK, and British citizens currently living elsewhere in the EU, to continue with their existing arrangements.
Labour is an internationalist party and we will work with our friends in Europe to secure the best possible Brexit deal for ordinary people.
3. What would you do to support Social Care in our area, particularly foster care, in a climate of cuts that are seeing fewer workers caring for more children?
I am very proud of our foster carers and the work they do on behalf of the rest of us.
We all know that funding is a real problem for all sorts of things at the moment, and of course end austerity and start putting money back into our public services including social care.
If elected I will of course work with Labour colleagues from Leeds City Council to try to secure more resources for our area.
4. What will you do to give young people the very best opportunities in life, to help them prepare for uncertain futures in a global world economy?
This has to be one of our highest priorities, here in Pudsey and elsewhere.
Obviously Labour will be investing in education, both at school and university level. We
will make life easier for tenants, with our commitments to rent controls and fairer tenancies. On a larger scale, will seek to improve our economic prospects and with that, improve job prospects for young people.
5. When do candidates see austerity coming to an end and living standards and security improving?
Labour understands there is a massive crisis in the economy and that it must be resolved whilst living within our means.
We aim to get the books balanced and the deficit eliminated – on day-to-day spending – within five years.
However we also recognise we need to invest, both in our infrastructure and in our public services.
Our plans are fully costed an include at least £30 billion of additional expenditure on the NHS in the next Parliament and reversing Tory cuts in school funding.
We will pay for these plans through fair taxation on wealthy individuals and corporations.
6. In 200 words or less, tell us why readers should vote for you/your party?
This election comes at a critical time for people in Pudsey, Horsforth and Aireborough.
Our schools are in crisis. Our hospitals, social care and mental health services are creaking. Our young people are struggling with increasing debt and housing costs. This is Tory Britain.
I’ve worked and lived in this constituency for many years with my wife, daughter and young sons.
I understand the struggles facing local families. As a dad and project manager for a major employer in the constituency, I have experienced big challenges.
Our area won great improvements to the NHS, schools, police and transport when we had a Labour MP.
Labour and Co-operative action rather than Tory cuts and slogans can once again address the challenges confronting our community.
I ask for your support to build a fairer future. Thank you.