Monday, 6 October 2014

Green's Tough Task in Heywood & Middleton

ABI Jackson is the Green Party candidate for Heywood and Middleton, and is a Middleton lass who went to the Catholic Cardinal Langley High School, and she completed her Master's Degree at Huddersfield University.  Ms. Jackson has said:
'I joined the Green Party because they stand against austerity, and for investment in decent jobs; against fracking and for sustainable forms of power; from the beginning, they have opposed the bedroom tax.'

The constituency's former MP, Jim Dobbin, was a devote Roman Catholic, and he often pointed to the diverse nature of the area it covered from middle-class residents in Norden and Bamford, to working-class families in the council houses of Langley which straddles the two towns of Heywood and Middleton, to Alkrington south of Middleton town centre where Jim Allen the left-wing scriptwriter for Ken Loach's films and once upon a time Granada TV's Coronation Street, used to live and ultimately ended his days.

Jim Dobbin's final few years as MP had been tragic and acrimonious as well as eventful.   The local Labour Party in the area was bitterly divided between those who supported Dobbin a traditional Labour MP, and those who preferred Simon Danczuk MP for the neighbouring constituency of Rochdale.

In 2012, Heywood was shocked by a sexual grooming scandal in which white girls as young as 13 were systematically abused by a  group of older men.  Later nine men - eight of Pakistani origin and one from Afghanistan - were jailed for between four and 19 years.

The authorities were found to have failed to address this criminal activity for years, with some claiming this was down to a fear of being landed with the accusation of racism.

Ms. Jackson has made safeguarding the vulnerable as one of her core policies in her campaign.  Her Green Party flyer says:
'With recent child abuse scandals and the recent revelation that 1 in 4 of our care homes fails its quality tests, we are clearly failing to protect those in need.  We need a fundemental review of what we should be doing as members of society to care for and protect those in need.'

She and the Greens will have an up hill struggle in Heywood and Middleton which is traditionally Labour.  Although the recent lack lustre performance of the Labour Conference and Ed Miliband and the bitter conflicts within the local Labour Party may help Ms. Jackson a bit. 

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