Reading East MP Matt Rodda defends his record against Conservative candidate’s criticism

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The Reading East MP has disputed the Conservatives’ prospective candidate’s claims that he “has been an awful MP” from last week, stating “I am proud of my record”.

Labour’s Matt Rodda, elected in the 2017 General Election, defended his reputation after Craig Morley, who was selected by local Tory members on Friday, August 2, accused him of “spending little time helping local constituents”.

Mr Rodda believes he has listened to and helped all of his constituents with the key problems surrounding today’s society, from Brexit to austerity.

He told The Wokingham Paper: “The biggest issue is Brexit. I have campaigned against a hard Brexit, I voted for second referendum, I’ve spoken to grassroot organisations and listened to business concerns about any kind of Brexit. I have been very keen to represent my constituents, who voted to remain.”

He added that with enormous cuts in the number of police officers, the NHS under pressure, doctors’ surgeries closing and the Royal Berkshire Hospital not meeting waiting times targets, austerity has taken a huge toll.

“There’s pressure on primary and secondary schools in the area, subjects are being dropped and pupils feel let down. Tuition fees have been hiked up three times, and maintained at this high level by the Conservative government.

“I have been active in opposing all these things, addressing the real issues for people every day,” he said.

As to Mr Morley’s beliefs that Mr Rodda is an “awful MP”, the politician appeared unconcerned.

“That’s his opinion, and he is entitled to his opinion – but it doesn’t really compare to reality. 

“He needs to think about the comparisons before he decides to compare me to other people. The best comparison would be between me and my conservative predecessor who didn’t hold regular surgeries.”

Mr Rodda argued that unlike the former Conservative Reading East MP Rob Wilson, he has held regular surgeries, and completed 12,000 pieces of casework since 2017.

The Labour MP has also run a number of campaigns such as calling for Reading Gaol to become an arts hub, seeking better local bus services and running anti-plastic bag campaigns. 

“On all these fronts, I have been working hard,” Mr Rodda said. “If he wants to challenge me, I am very happy to be held to account on the basis of my record.”

He then added a warning for Mr Morley.

“Craig will probably want to be judged on his record. And if he is supporting a hard Brexit, he should reflect on that. It would do enormous damage to our health service and businesses.”

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