Do you know your local councillors?
A Labour Party Candidate honest enough to admit he used to be a Tory voter
My name is Bryan Barrett and I am a serving Fire Fighter. I live in Norton (near Malton), North Yorkshire with my wife and two children, not far from where I was brought up on the Tang Hall Council Estate in York. When I left school, I joined The Green Howards Infantry Regiment based in Catterick Garrison and Osnabruck Germany. I took part in a number of operational tours of Northern Ireland and Bosnia.
I left the Army in 2000 and moved to Malton to join the Fire Service. My early years as a fire fighter saw me at odds with the Blair Government. Strikes over fair pay and my disagreement over the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan made me a natural Conservative voter. My disagreement with the Labour Party became altogether more hostile as a number of my friends, who were still serving, lost their lives in Afghanistan. The lives of these young men, who knew little about politics, were cut short by a war that they were ill prepared for. That experience had a profound effect on me. But old allegiances run deep, and it wasn’t until after the 2015 general election that I began to realise that it was the policies of the coalition government that had led to austerity and the increasing poverty around me. Public service workers like me had been taken for granted. The cost of living was increasing, yet our wages had totally stagnated and my annual salary was virtually the same in 2015 as it was in 2010.
Bitterly disappointed with politics in general, I was intrigued when Jeremy Corbyn became leader. He stated his intention to stand on an anti-austerity platform and seemed to be able to relate to fellow human beings in a way that other politicians simply couldn’t. Labour Party membership doubled in his first 6 months as leader. However, I remained deeply suspicious of politicians in general and it wasn’t until I read the manifesto in 2017 that I nailed my colours firmly to the mast and became a Labour Party member myself.
Now in 2018 I am appalled at our divided country where the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Homelessness is rising sharply, health inequalities are widening and a record number of people are having to rely on foodbanks. We face the unprecedented situation of this generation being worse off than the last, with the worst wage growth for 200 years.
We all need to do something about this, and as an elected Labour representative, I want to lead the local fight for a fair society where everyone has opportunities, and no one needs to visit a food bank.
Bryan Barrett, October 11th, 2018