The plight of farmers, housing in rural areas, and working tax credits were the key issues discussed over dinner at the North Norfolk Labour Christmas Party this year in Sheringham.
Newly-elected chair Jen Emery was joined by Kerry McCarthy, Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and Baroness Patricia Hollis, who led the rebellion against George Osborne’s assault on tax credits.
Earlier in the day Kerry had visited a local farmer in Fakenham to learn more about the issues facing those working in agriculture in the North Norfolk area. She talked with passion about the plight that farmers faced with supermarkets, and how she was backing them in their mission to get a fairer deal. She balanced this by talking about her love of animals, and the importance of ensuring that animals on farms had a good quality of life.
Kerry also talked about the need for the Labour Party in non-urban areas like North Norfolk. She talked about her history working with the East of England Labour Party, and sitting on the National Policy Forum. She said issues that affected rural areas when on the Policy Forum mattered more than ever now. For example the need for more affordable housing and better transport. The levels of poverty around the constituency had led to the opening of a number of food banks in towns like Cromer. She said the Labour Party was needed to address these concerns.
Baroness Hollis meanwhile spoke about leading the House of Lords rebellion against George Osborne’s plans to cut tax credits for working people. She said had the fight not been successful to delay these plans hundreds of working people in North Norfolk would have been receiving letters just before Christmas informing their income would be cut. She pointed to other cuts hitting the poorest in society in the coming years, and said the fight would continue on behalf of these people.
Jen Emery thanked former chair Denise Burke for her work over the past four years and for helping increase the Labour vote in the General Election. She also welcomed many new faces to the event which had followed hundreds joining the party since the leadership election. The numbers within the party continues to grow.
North Norfolk Labour Party will be hosting more opportunities to hear members of the shadow cabinet talk in the coming months.