This week's Salford Advertiser has a Q&A with Barbara about her priorities for Worsley and Eccles South at the forthcoming General Election. Below are the answers Barbara submitted to the paper:
How can the NHS be improved?
Labour has made major investment in the NHS and this must continue. Labour will keep investing in frontline NHS services. Services will also improve through patient guarantees. Labour pledge a guarantee for patients with suspected cancer to see a specialist within 2 weeks and get test results back within a week. Labour will develop the first ever National Care Service as many people who are frail, elderly or with long term conditions need good care services working alongside the improved NHS services.
How can you ensure that politicians relate to the people as well as representing their interests in Parliament?
Politicians relate to people if they have the same sort of experience of life outside politics. I have worked in industry and I have also worked for charities. I understand some of the problems that carers can have through caring for an elderly relative myself. I take every chance to meet people and to get involved in their campaigns, in the work of their organizations and in local events.
What are the key issues for Worsley and Eccles South in this election and how do you plan to tackle them?
Supporting local jobs and businesses. We can sustain economic recovery by creating and supporting jobs – like the jobs being created in Salford through the Future Jobs Fund.
Tackling crime anti-social behaviour – we must maintain our neighbourhood police and neighbourhood teams both of which would be threatened by Tory Cuts.
Protecting green belt land and green open spaces – I will continue to campaign against any attempts to build on our Green Belt land.
How do you plan to regenerate town centres and shops in this economic climate?
Our town centres compete against big shopping centres which have a large choice of shops plus free parking. We need to develop a better mix of shops - a choice of supermarkets plus convenience stores and clothes and shoe shops. Free or low cost parking and good public transport are essential. All this would help to ensure that people would use town centre shops for local shopping.
Is politics relevant to the people in Worsley and Eccles South?
Politics is about everyday things like jobs, education, transport and health services. I help people with many things that they care about, from local campaigns on the green belt to national issues like unfair water charges for community groups and churches. As a Minister I have put forward changes to make it easier for local people to be heard in Parliament, through petitions and being able to get an issue debated.
Is the Labour party still the party of the working people?
The Labour Party is the party for working people, for young people at school or college, for retired people and families because our priority is to help all people not just the wealthy few. Recent polls show that more people think Labour leader Gordon Brown understands their problems than the Tory leader, who is seen to favour wealthier groups.
Can you understand the issues of a constituency if you are not from there and don’t live there?
I can understand the issues of the constituency because I have the work and life experience to understand them. I have lived in Sale for 25 years, I attended Salford University and before becoming a local MP I worked with Salford community organizations, health bodies and the local council.
Why should people vote for you?
I am asking people to vote for me because I have the experience needed to fight for the best services for Worsley and Eccles South. For five years I have worked hard as the local MP for Worsley, helping thousands of people and sorting out problems big and small. I have been a campaigning MP fighting for the interests of local people. As a Government Minister I have taken our local issues to the heart of Government.
Before becoming an MP I worked locally on regeneration projects and nationally on policy to help carers. I have worked locally in industry and I was a councillor in nearby Trafford for 9 years. I want to use all my experience to fight for a better future for Worsley and Eccles South.to