Amber Rudd MP was told “shame on you” on Question Time for her party’s diabolical act to cut tax credits. This encouraged Kay Green, a constituent of Rudd, MP for Hastings and Rye and the minister for Energy and Climate Change, to get in touch with The Canary.
Kay Green said:
It’s hard living in a poor town with a Tory MP. Hastings used to be a deprived area but you got grants for that, so the Tories put a stop to that accolade years ago. Unfortunately due to the constituency boundaries, we are lumped in with Rye, a haven for many wealthy people, and a lot of rural green wellie people in between. They live in huge houses surrounded by sheep that vote Tory. I know this because I saw the election posters on their field gates, and that was where I first came across the name and face of Amber Rudd.
Is Ms Rudd representative of the people of Hastings and Rye?
Everything about Ms Rudd suggests a wealthy, privileged upbringing and an expectation of more wealth to come. We hear that she’s in the top ten expenses claimants, has donations from Tory clubs, investments in private health care, a PPS who receives donations from fossil fuel lobbyists and a brother who runs a PR company that represents clients in industries we would really rather not have dealings with. We hear that she does ‘voluntary’ work for financial services companies and has to be reminded to declare her own business interests…
She has no roots in Hastings that I am aware of and, if there is any doubt as to what she’s doing here, one only needs to look back to a lengthy interview she gave to the Financial Times early in her career where she stated that Hastings was a handy, quick train ride from Westminster. She admitted that it did have its problems, which she described as people who came down from London to live on the dole and take drugs with their friends by the sea and were difficult to deal with. Sure, she also said it had its good points – she waved her hand in the direction of what she called “that boat-shaped building” and claimed it was the new Jerwood gallery (which is square, and not visible from where she was standing). So really, she’s not one of us.
But she was elected by the people of Hastings and Rye…
Did we vote for her? As well as being surrounded by Tory sheep, we are what is known as a ‘marginal’ which means at every election, we all do quadratic equations to decide how to avoid getting a Tory MP. This time around, 17000 of us plumped for Red, 6000 for Purple 2000 for Green and 1500 for Yellow. And all the people of Rye and their sheep voted Blue. We got Amber on 22000 votes.
How did people feel about her election?
We had been so hopeful! I attended a hustings in Hastings in which Rudd was shouted down lustily at every turn, and the exit poll suggested we were heading for a Labour victory, with the Greens a close second. We were getting excited. Marginals can so easily precipitate change, and Rudd and her party were so unpopular that she had to conduct most of her campaign in secret – yes, really. She had David Cameron down, to speak to a captive audience of Saga employees at work, then duck out of town again before the people running around with placards yelling “where is he!” could get a scent of him. She had Ian Duncan Smith down too, and that was even worse. The one photo of his visit suggests a secret meeting at night in the back of a closed flower shop in a dark St Leonards. We were going to win! Even Rudd knew her party are so unpopular they’re dangerous company.
We were discouraged by the money though. Vast amounts of money gets thrown at marginals. It was in Hastings that Ed Milliband had his famous gravestone made. The Greens had been feeling quite cheery, having raised a couple of thousand pounds for their campaign, via a crowd funder but Ed’s stone cost about 10 times their entire campaign budget – and then the Tories bought the entire front cover of Johnston Press ‘local’ papers the week before the election, in order to lie about the Labour Party – a move that must have cost more than anyone else’s budget. Perhaps that didn’t make any difference though. It was the boundaries what done it. That’s why, in considerable distress after the election I asked Rudd how on earth she was going to represent a town where most people seemed completely at odds with her opinions on most things. Rudd, via her secretary, assured me she was going to represent all her constituents, regardless of their politics.
Did she follow up on her promise to represent all?
So, we all kept on emailing her with our wants, needs and opinions, and she kept on putting announcements on her website explaining why she didn’t agree with us. But now it’s worse, because she’s also the Minister for Energy and Climate Change. I went to meet her recently with a group from ‘Global Justice Now’ to try to put the case for maintaining some of the grants and projects for green energy. Now, if she’s planning on representing all of us, surely she should have listened, asked questions to make sure she understood our wishes, then presented them to parliament – but she didn’t, she just gave a series of lectures and argued with us. I tried chasing down some of those arguments a couple of times because I didn’t think they were right or fair. Do it once, she thinks of another argument. Do it a second time, she thinks of another. Do it a third time and you get that look, then she says “well, I don’t agree with you.” So how can she possibly represent us?
Kay then decided to invite Ms Rudd to an event outside the Daily Mail office about the climate change crisis.
Natalie Bennett’s going, so I emailed Amber and asked her to go along, as Minister for Climate Change but also as our MP.
My email got no answer so a few weeks later, when I got the chance, I asked her personally. She asked me to re-send the email. I did. No answer. A few weeks later, with time running out, I decided to try a petition. I knew she wouldn’t go, but I wanted to show her a list of names because she had recently stated that she wasn’t aware of climate change being a matter of concern to people in Hastings. It proved difficult to get people to sign – not because they don’t care, but because the great majority of people in Hastings have given up with their MP. They’ve sent so many emails that haven’t been answered, seen so many cavalier statements in the press. “What’s the point in asking her to do anything for us?” they say. Well, I pleaded with people and eventually sent the petition in with 113 signatures. But on the day I sent it, a bunch of local environmentalists went even further in a dramatic attempt to get her attention!
The action involved activists transforming the Long Man of Wilmington into an anti-fracking protester.
Kay’s damning verdict of Ms Rudd highlights the desire that the people of Britain have to see a kinder politics and their frustration with an electoral system that denies a voice to so many.
Featured Image via the Worthing Herald
We know everyone is suffering under the Tories - but the Canary is a vital weapon in our fight back, and we need your support
The Canary Workers’ Co-op knows life is hard. The Tories are waging a class war against us we’re all having to fight. But like trade unions and community organising, truly independent working-class media is a vital weapon in our armoury.
The Canary doesn’t have the budget of the corporate media. In fact, our income is over 1,000 times less than the Guardian’s. What we do have is a radical agenda that disrupts power and amplifies marginalised communities. But we can only do this with our readers’ support.
So please, help us continue to spread messages of resistance and hope. Even the smallest donation would mean the world to us.