VOTE 2019: ‘We’ve had years of underfunding – Wokingham needs the change Labour offers’

THE Labour candidate for Wokingham has had a tough campaign – she’s been getting around on crutches. But this hasn’t stopped Dr Annette Medhurst and her team from sharing the message on the constituency’s doorsteps.

The Woosehill resident comes from a family of Labour supporters, saying that her parents were activists for the party.

“I’ve been delivering leaflets from an early age,” she says. “But I didn’t actually join the party until the day after the 2015 general election.

“I woke up that morning and I was really disappointed. I think I didn’t think that the Conservatives would win again. And I thought, what can I do? I need to get involved. So, I joined the party. I went to a couple of local social events, and it’s kind of snowballed from there really.”

She attributes the friendliness of the group as to why she has got involved: “They are people who have similar values and beliefs to me; they wanted to go the same direction and wanted to see the same changes locally and nationally.”

Dr Medhurst stood, unsuccessfully, for the borough council ahead of her candidacy for Wokingham’s parliamentary seat.

“I knew that it would be very difficult in a constituency like this because John Redwood has been here for such a long time and it’s a very Conservative area. But equally, I feel passionately about all these things. I feel very strong about working in the community that I live in and I very much like a lot of what the Labour party represents today,” she says.

Inspirations for her came from Reading East’s Matt Rodda – “He’s a very passionate person about what he does” – and Stella Creasey. “She’s a woman, she like likes similar things to me.”

Labour’s manifesto is very ambitious. Some would say too ambitious, but this doesn’t phase Dr Medhurst.

“We have gone through 10 years of austerity and we need change,” she says. “We need big bold steps forward. The climate emergency is a very good example.

“The experts tell you we need to be doing stuff now. No party can push that to one side.

“I think the Labour manifesto has taken all that on board and said, we need to have bold policies and we need to be strong about them.”

She continues: “I just think that we’ve had years of underfunding. We need change.

“In Wokingham, we’ve got the food bank, we’ve got First Days (children’s charity), the Cow Shed, which is just set up – there all these anti-poverty charities springing up. Amazing as they are – hats off to these charities they do a fantastic job – it’s 2019.

“We shouldn’t live in a society where we need them. I would like to see a date where they could all close their doors.”

And this is a message that Dr Medhurst says is resonating on the doorsteps.

Education is one of her priorities, born out of her experiences. She has been part of a parent-led campaign to increase school funding, something Sir John Redwood said that he has been able to help with.

“How has he been successful in providing additional funding?” Dr Medhurst asks. “I don’t think that the schools locally seeing it, a lot of them are starting to run a deficit.

“I know campaigners felt he didn’t really support them, and it’s really disappointing.

“As far as I can see, he hasn’t done very much.”

So why should people back Dr Medhurst?

“I’m the person who lives locally. I’m quite active in the community. And I think I’m I am the one on the ballot who provides the opportunity for real change. It’s the two Tories plus me.

“People have said to me on the doorstep, it’s like a breath of fresh air, having you coming around and speaking to us.”

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