Labour veteran Sir Gerald Kaufman was in Oldham last night to support me at an election rally in the Pakistani Community Centre at which I spoke about my parliamentary work on issues such as the NHS, Palestine, Kashmir and the recommendations identified by the Oldham Fairness Commission which I convened and chaired.
During his speech Sir Gerald reminded the audience, of nearly 200 people, that I am the vice-chair of the Kashmir Group in House of Commons and said: “Debbie, and me, and other Labour MPs who care, can push for a change by the Labour government on Kashmir. And we can make sure that a Labour government will recognise Palestine. It’s not just talk, my friends, it’s action that will follow with a Labour government.
“When you vote for Debbie on 7th May you’ll not simply be voting for an outstanding MP you will be voting for the people of Palestine and the people of Kashmir. Go and do it!”
During my speech I said: “It has been an honour to have been the MP for Oldham East & Saddleworth over the last 4 years.
“I’m not a career politician. Before I became an MP I worked in the NHS for over 20 years. It was my values that drove me to become a Labour politician and I wanted to try and make a positive difference to people’s lives and to make things fairer.
“And that’s what I’ve tried to do while I’ve been your MP, to make a difference to local people’s lives by supporting over 6,500 constituents who came to me for help, but also to make a difference through policy and legislation.”
I also talked about her work as a member of the shadow health team describing how I have worked to develop Labour health policy saying: “After five years of this Government, things are as bad as they were in 1997 and I was working in the NHS then and I can remember people dying on waiting lists.
“We turned it around then and we will turn it around again with 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more doctors and 5,000 more care workers as part of our fully costed Time to Care fund. We’ll create a truly integrated NHS and social care service which is focused on the whole person. And we will stop the privatisation of the NHS forced through with the help of the Lib Dems that has wasted billions.”
I also spoke about how hundreds of constituents had contacted me last summer expressing their concerns about the conflict between Gaza and Israel. In response to the public outcry I worked with councillors and the Inter-Faith Forum to organise a local, 8,300 signature petition calling for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire which they delivered to Downing Street.
I talked about my visit to the West Bank saying: “I visited the West Bank after the last bombardment, as Gerald has done, and I was absolutely shocked and dismayed by what I saw.
“To me it reminded me of apartheid South Africa and the inhumanity and dehumanisation that took place there was going on in Palestine.”
“So I spoke at every single statement on the Gaza crisis in the House of Commons condemning the indiscriminate and disproportionate violence being rained down on the Palestinian people by the Israeli Government, as did Sir Gerald.
“But the Government, this Tory and Lib Dem Government, refused to condemn Israel, a position I, and the Labour Party, said was ‘morally indefensible’.”
On her work on the Kashmir issue I said: “If re-elected in addition to planning two inquiries to examine human rights abuses and look at the aid programmes in Kashmir, I hope to run a Peace & Reconciliation Conference on Kashmir in Parliament. I’m also planning to visit the UN to raise the profile of Kashmir later this year.”
In summation I said: “If you want a fairer Oldham, a fairer Britain, a Britain for the many not just a privileged few, then I hope you will support me and vote for Labour.”