Labour’s Shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry has been in Ramsgate this morning (September 30) to help launch the General Election campaign for the party’s Thanet parliamentary hopeful Polly Billington.
Emily Thornberry has been MP for Islington South and Finsbury since 2005 following a previous defeat in the 2001 general election, when she stood as Labour candidate in Canterbury, but lost to Conservative incumbent, Julian Brazier. She had ties to the city after studying law at the University of Kent, graduating in 1982.
The campaign launch began with a meeting of Thanet Labour members at the San Clu in Ramsgate and was followed by a door knock within the constituency.
Polly was selected in February by Labour to fight in the next general election for what is currently the South Thanet seat.
Boundary Commission changes mean it will become a new constituency of East Thanet taking in Ramsgate, Broadstairs and most of Margate while Westbrook, Birchington, Garlinge, Thanet villages wards and Westgate form part of a Herne Bay and Sandwich County Constituency.
Former BBC journalist and then media director for MP Ed Miliband, Polly, 55, is also a director of UK100 and a councillor in Hackney.
Polly says she is campaigning for new council homes, cracking down on bad landlords, creating new and better jobs, protecting our coastline, and rebuilding our National Health Service.
Emily Thornberry said Polly is the person to “get things done.”
She said: “When Ed Miliband was leader and Polly was working in his office, if you wanted anything done you could ring the boys or you could ring Polly and she would get it done. Having a woman who gets things done is important I think.”
Emily says Polly will give a voice to constituents in Parliament, something she says is seen as lacking currently.
Housing, in terms of social homes but also affordable rents, is one area that both Polly and Emily say they are passionate about.
Polly said: “There are a lot of people over 30 living with their mums and dads because they just can’t afford a home, we need genuinely affordable homes for local people.”
Polly says she will also campaign for greater regulation of Airbnb which can reduce available properties for long-term let.
Emily says the most important thing for Labour to do is “turn the economy around,” saying the government of the last 13 years has “achieved no growth and no investment in public services.”
She said: “We need to turn it around and be radical, investing in our economy, generating our own electricity and having battery plants to build our own cars, areas like those generating power with real green jobs so we never depend on Putin or anyone else.”
A Green New Deal for Thanet is one of Polly’s pledges. She said: “We generate enough power for 40,000 homes through offshore wind here already but so much more could be done.”
Polly says getting the unemployment rate down, creating jobs and making sure energy bills are lowered by making homes fit for purpose are all priorities.
She adds: “I will work closely with residents, trade unions and businesses to build a green economy with people and greater equality at its heart.”
The current Parliament first met on December 17, 2019, meaning it will be dissolved on December 17, 2024, at the end of the five year term.
Polling day would take place 25 days later, meaning the next general election is due to take place in January 2025 unless an early election is called.
In the 2019 General Election Conservative Craig Mackinlay took the South Thanet seat with more than 56% of the vote.
He polled 27,084 votes, some 10,587 ahead of nearest competitor, Labour’s Rebecca Gordon Nesbitt, who gained 16,497 votes.
Veteran Conservative Sir Roger Gale, who has held the North Thanet seat since 1983, was elected with 30,066 votes – equalling 62% of the poll. Labour’s Dr Coral Jones took 12,877 – 27%.
Sir Roger has confirmed he will be standing again in the next General Election for the revised Herne Bay and Sandwich seat.