The West Wolds Labour Party opinion column with Andrew Boothroyd

More people are relying on food banks in the Pocklington area.
More people are relying on food banks in the Pocklington area.

By 2016, many people felt they were losing control over their lives. They could not afford to buy or even rent a home and were experiencing low pay and work insecurity.

They were living in neglected communities and seeing overcrowded schools and a health service under pressure. They felt that many were doing better than them.

Using ‘take back control’ as their slogan, the Leave campaign appealed to a desire for change.

Dissatisfactions were falsely blamed on EU migrants and EU interference in making our laws, but really they were the result of British government policies since the 1980s.

When the UK joined the EU in 1973, we were the most equal country after Sweden. By 2016, we had the highest inequality levels of any EU country.

This was not caused by the EU, but by Conservative government policies during the 1980s and 90s.

Between 1997 and 2010, New Labour slowed the rise but as inequality grew, all the other EU countries became more equal.

Between 2007 and 2015 the UK was the only large advanced economy where workers’ real wages fell during economic growth.

In France and Germany both the economy and wages grew.

In Finland and Sweden real wages grew, even during an economic contraction.

The UK wages squeeze in our region and the rest of the UK was caused by the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition government’s imposition of austerity, not by the EU.

We all suffer in a more unequal society. Studies show that when there is greater equality people are fitter and live longer, infant mortality is lower, there is greater trust between people and less mental illness.

There is also less drug and alcohol addiction, fewer people in prison and fewer murders; children achieve more at school, teenage pregnancies decline and there is greater social mobility.

Everyone has the chance of a better life where there is greater equality, including in relatively better-off areas like the East Riding.

The USA is the most unequal of all the developed countries, despite being the richest but the Conservatives want to move closer to the America model.

Their private health corporations want access to our NHS and East Riding farmers and consumers will suffer lower American food standards. If we follow the USA, inequality in Britain will be greater and our quality of life will worsen.

Everyone wants the best for the people of East Yorkshire. This means Britain needs to become more equal again, so that everyone has a better chance to lead happier, healthier and more fulfilled lives.

It is shameful that in 2017-18, 73% of children in poverty lived in a family where an adult worked; it is shameful that more and more people rely on food banks in towns such as Pocklington and Driffield.

So next time a Parliamentary candidate for East Yorkshire asks for your vote, ask them; what will you do to change Britain from one of the most unequal developed countries to the most equal?