Dear Tracy Brabin,
As a Batley and Spen resident, I am writing with concerns about your recent appearance on Radio IMWS.
Firstly, you claimed that the report on the Iraq War ‘specifically, unequivocally says Tony Blair did not lie to Parliament.’ This is not true at all. The report did not say whether Blair lied or not, but it did say that there was no imminent threat from Saddam Hussein when we invaded Iraq.
You then said ‘we cannot also forget that he did bring three Labour governments.’ Why would you try to defend Blair at all, let alone in this way? Nothing else he did can compare to the devastation in Iraq.
You next went on to say ‘More than ever we need the country to see that actually the Labour Party’s getting back on its feet. It’s getting back united. It’s fighting against Brexit.’
Most people across all communities in Batley and Spen voted to leave the EU, as you will know. So why do you want to fight against our wishes? Why would we accept that?
You were later asked how you would hold Kirklees Council to account over inadequate children’s services. Your response was that, although you were disappointed, ‘it’s really hard for our Labour council because the cuts are from the Government and we in the North are paying the price for it.’
It is wrong to blame others for the serious failures which Ofsted found at the council. In light of this, how can residents trust you to challenge the council and make sure vulnerable children are looked after properly?
I was then appalled by your response to a question about the far-right. You said ‘Paul Nuttall likes to think that UKIP is going to stride the nation, and we’re all going to be Ukippers and have those attitudes.’
You might not know that I am a teacher employed in a local school. If you would suggest that I have far-right attitudes, then that could cause real problems for my livelihood. I can only be glad that most people do not seem to agree with you about UKIP and its 4 million supporters. But still, will you admit your mistake and issue a public apology to prevent any possible issues for me at work?
For all our sakes in Batley and Spen, I hope you realise that what you are saying is not going to win people over. 78% of us did not support you in your by-election.
I haven’t even mentioned your comments on local segregated communities. I could write another whole letter about that!
Chairman, UKIP Dewsbury, Batley and Spen
Dear Aleks Lukic,
Thank you for your email, I appreciate that you extended the courtesy of giving me prior warning of your intention to send your letter to local press. I hope you understand I will do the same with this response.
You bring up a number points, let me respond to each on an individual basis.
Brexit – let me be absolutely clear, I heard the voice of the country and people of Batley and Spen in last summer’s referendum loud and clear – we are leaving the European Union.
I may have misspoke in the interview but my position and voting record hasn’t changed.
I’m determined to get the best possible deal for Batley and Spen in the Brexit negotiations and I will use my position as your MP to do so. As I’m on record as saying, I do not wish the hinder or delay the submission of Article 50 in any way, as evidence of this, I have already voted in the House of Commons on a motion which called on the Government to submit Article 50 ‘no later than March 31, 2017’.
Tony Blair – The three successive Labour Governments did an enormous amount of good for our community. Under Labour we saw record investment in schools, brought class sizes down, record results in our schools, introduced the Winter Fuel Allowance, the creation of Sure Start, half a million children out of poverty, peace in Northern Ireland, hospital waiting times at a record low and the cluster bomb banned.
Contrast that with the situation today, Sure Start centre closures, food bank queues growing, in work poverty on the up, child poverty rising again and vital NHS services under threat. While I need no lessons on the Iraq War, indeed I left the Labour Party for a time because of it, I refuse to hide away from my belief that Labour Governments are much better for Batley and Spen than Conservative ones.
Children’s services – I’m not sure if you had the opportunity to listen to the interview in full as I didn’t blame Government cuts for the Ofsted inspection result. What I said was the report was very disappointing, I’d spoken to Council Leader David Sheard, a senior official at the council and that it was a small mercy was that no child had been put in harm’s way.
Thankfully new procedures have been put in place by Kirklees Council and I know you’ll join me in wishing everyone involved well as the current situation simply isn’t acceptable.
On the other hand it is undoubtedly true that unprecedented cuts to local government budgets have made delivering top quality services much more difficult.
UKIP – firstly, let me say, of course I do not wish to see you lose your job, and I hope you know my comments were in no way intended to do so. If they do cause any problems with your employer, please let me know and I’ll send an urgent clarification. Yes, the question I was asked referenced the term ‘far right’ but it also mentioned Angela Merkel.
Merkel is one of the most high profile and successful politicians in the world, that’s why in my entire answer I referenced other ‘main stream’ political parties and politicians, Marine Le Pen in France, Norbert Hofer in Austria and your party, UKIP.
I fully respect the decision thousands in Batley and Spen made to vote for UKIP at the last general election, but I won’t shy away from highlighting stances I don’t agree with, the party’s thirst to further privatise the NHS which has time and time again resulted in poorer services or cutting taxes for the richest which means less into the Government coffers and less to areas like our community.
Despite our differences, I hope we can do our politics by open debate, discussion and in a respectful way.
I appreciate you took the time to email me on this matter, I’m sure Radio IMWS are pleased to hear you are a listener and I look forward to continuing our discussions soon.
Tracy Brabin MP
Dear Tracy Brabin,
Thank you for getting back to me so quickly. Just so you know, I did watch the full interview before writing. I stand by the impression your words gave me and many others in Batley and Spen, but your response has started to move things in a better direction.
I will briefly point out that you still appear to be mistaken about UKIP on a number of issues. Last year I stood for UKIP on a platform of ending Labour’s private finance deals in the NHS, which have led to disaster for Dewsbury and District Hospital. UKIP also wants to protect the NHS by cracking down on health tourism, and ensuring new migrants have their own insurance until they have paid UK tax for five years. Labour will never tackle these issues.
We will not agree on many things, but like you I prefer to deal with issues by having a fair, honest conversation.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and yours,
Chairman, UKIP Dewsbury, Batley and Spen