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MP for Birkenhead personal statement Tony Norbury
History in the trades union movement and Labour Party
I was a child of the Thatcher Tory government leaving school at 16 and entering the world of the Tory YTS Youth Training Scheme.
Having worked in a building firm in Rock Ferry, then the old Asda Birkenhead, followed by Cammell Laird ship yard where I learnt to weld.
My life as a trade’s unionist really started at Vauxhall Motors on the production line where I became a shop steward for the Transport and General Workers union at the tender age of 21. This is where I met Tony Woodley and the shop stewards committee. My fondest memory of this time was campaigning for the Labour Party candidate in Wallasey, Lol Duffy one of the Cammell Laird 37. We collectively reduced a majority of over 20,000 to a recount which we narrowly lost and built the platform for a Labour MP to be there today. I wish that MP had of been Lol.
I spent a short time working in pubs across Wirral and Ellesmere Port the contrast between union organised work places and those that weren’t could not have been starker.
I became self-employed and worked on the taxis in Birkenhead where we formed the first ever union branch for private hire taxis through Unite the Union. Our branch along with the hackney branch embedded training into the licensing process enabling taxis to be recognised as a profession and protecting driver’s health and safety.
If selected to be the Labour candidate for MP by the members and elected as MP by the people of Birkenhead I will certainly work hard with the minister and shadow minister for transport to support the taxi and private Hire drivers of Birkenhead as they are still very vulnerable workers who lack the workers’ rights others get.
I was then employed by Merseytravel as part of their Merseylearn team they trained me to be an effective Union learning rep with both Unite and Unision I will always hold these skills close to myheart as they are the building blocks of any struggle, education of working-class people and those who deserve a second chance in life are life changing experiences.
It was because of the skills that I gained as a Unionlearning rep I felt the confidence to help and represent others. I choose to do this by becoming an elected councillor for Labour to give something back. I first stood for election in the West Kirby ward where I met some great socialists and cut my teeth regarding campaigning. I was later chosen by the ward I live in Prenton, to be their candidate for Labour in the Birkenhead constituency. I was elected in 2012 and then again in 2016 at my panel interview I did say it is my ambition to move our party locally to the left using socialist values, I don’t think they took me seriously.
After struggling in a Blairite Labour Group opposing cuts and most of the worst privatisation policies I maintain my resistance by voting with the whip at full council this is a difficult thing to justify to yourself and others as nobody wants to vote for cuts in the public sector particularly in a place like Birkenhead. I always argued at Labour Group meetings to protect the most vulnerable and shield them from the worst cuts I was not always successful and often out voted and the way democracy works you have to go along with the collective decision or get out. It is against Labour Party rules and policy to set an illegal budget and leave the most vulnerable at the whim of Tory administrators and we have seen an example of that in Northampton. I have never been a quitter and can always see the bigger picture the end game. Enter Jeremy Corbyn.
Jeremy Corbyn and me
As soon as Jeremy was on the ballot as leader I got behind him. I spoke at his very first public meeting at Birkenhead Town Hall. It was packed to the rafters and I said it was so good to see good comrades here who had left the Labour Party or had been asked to leave. I stayed to reclaim our Labour Party for the many and was so proud to speak on that historic occasion. I feel you have to believe before things can come true. Having campaigned to get Ed Miliband elected to be so disappointed by the lack of socialism and vision, here was a true socialist leader who spoke our language and had values and principles that I knew would help Birkenhead. Hundreds of people started to join the Labour Party Labour councillors like me Jo Walsh Christina Muspratt were not on our own anymore the rest is written in history with brave comrades stepping up to take the fight for Corbyn to our national and local party.
We in Birkenhead CLP encouraged the members to take part in the democratic process they could see another Birkenhead Labour Party was possible they organised themselves around national Labour Party policies and values. As a Birkenhead councillor on the Left I took the fight to the Labour Group whilst others organised the Birkenhead Labour Party it was a privilege to work alongside John Maher, Sarah Evens, and Robert Smiley and so many others who all showed tremendous courage and resolve in helping members take part. Democracy is a beautiful thing when the right people get involved.
If I was chosen by you the members to be your representative in parliament I would take a working wage and use the rest of the tax payer’s money our money to open a constituency office in the centre of Birkenhead employing people from the local area to help us do the very best, we can for the people of Birkenhead. This job for me is about what I as your representative in parliament can do for you and all my resources will go into that.
With your permission when I become the member of Parliament for Birkenhead I would like to first start working on the infrastructure building up affordable and sustainable transport links. This is so important to bringing jobs and industry back into our town. We invented trams, I will work hard to bring them back home creating links to all our visitor destinations. Plus building the trams here at Cammell Lairds.
I will continue supporting the rail unions in their struggle to have a guard on the train I think this is so important to help increase accessibility and safety on the trains. public opinion is right behind the guards and the unions in this Struggle and the Labour Party pledge at national conference to work with the rail Unions and other experts to re-nationalise the trains.
Cammell Lairds is vital to the future of this town it is a place where we can build ships again and so much more. I will work hard to bring back ship building to Lairds the loss of Lairds as a ship yard that built ships like the Mauritania and Ark Royal was a death blow to Birkenhead which has been in decline ever since.
I am devoted to the NHS and will work with a Labour opposition or a Labour government to rid our NHS of privateers. The NHS was founded to be free at the point of use and collectively owned and funded by the tax payers of the UK
Wealth retention: Cooperative models
I have recently joined the Cooperative party and am excited about the alternative economic models we can link into to help grow Birkenhead whilst keeping the wealth we create here to benefit us all. I know my partner and comrade councillor Jo Bird the recently elected councillor for Bromborough and New ferry is working hard to embed land trust models into the infrastructure projects that will revive the devastated New Ferry. I will support Jo and the council in working with the people of New ferry to create a living community they can again be proud of once again.
Equality and diversity
I want to work with all our brothers and sisters across Birkenhead to make our communities welcoming and diverse where people can live in hope and peace and we can see our children laughing and smiling once again. Diversity starts in the schools I will work hard to have a dedicated team of equality and diversity experts working with the council and the local communities nobody should feel uncomfortable in any setting in Birkenhead. I will Show racism The Red Card wherever it raises its ugly head.
I will work with the enforcement authorities to create an environment where crime is not the only hope for some people, an environment where we respect each other’s values and cultures, we work with our youth services and schools to create early interventions and recognise when a person is going down the wrong road. I will create wrap around services that will bring them back to hope and progression. The type of policing we need in Birkenhead is up stream policing with community servants working on the streets to create alternatives to a life of crime
I have plenty of experience with young people as I have helped to bring six kids up of m own one of whom Amy has got the political bug and is now our CLP women’s officer for Birkenhead. I think there is more to come from my children who have been brought up in Birkenhead. living with me in various locations but mostly Kirkland Avenue Prenton Birkenhead
Free Education for all under a comprehensive system with democratic accountability is important to me we have some of the best special needs schools in the country here on Wirral we need to build on that and make sure every child has a fair chance of becoming all they want to be no matter what their status is or where their journey starts. I believe education is an escalator that runs alongside you during your whole life and it’s up to you when you get on and off it. My job as your representative in parliament will be to make sure nothing gets in your way of getting on the education escalator. I am a firm believer in Adult education and will fight with you to make that as accessible to all as possible. Everybody deserves to have a second chance and also have the facilities in work to gain the skills they need to do the job they want.
Housing for the many
It will be part of my work as your representative in parliament to work alongside housing associations and trusts to create a model of housing that creates homes that are affordable secure, warm, sustainable and decent.
I will work with the local council in creating our own council houses built by our own work force and owned collectively by our own people. Everybody should have the right to have a warm and safe place they can call home no matter what their circumstances are. We owe it to the people who are to come and the people who have been to stop the Tory austerity and create an economic system for the many not the few
We need to create a sustainable environment for us and those to come. If selected as your M.P I would create a dedicated team of environmental experts and innovative architects to embed environmental impact assessments into everything we do as a town. My work on the Merseyside waste Authority has shown me the positive impact that a sustainable recycling strategy for Birkenhead could bring. I
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8th October 2019 update