Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate: ‘I’m just a regular woman who will have your back’

Laura McAlpine

LABOUR’S parliamentary candidate has made claims that Robert Halfon MP’s voting history in parliament suggests that he is against the people he represents in Harlow.

Upon visiting Harlow College recently, to speak to students before the general elections took place on May 3rd, Laura McAlpine came across as being passionate for her hometown, and as someone who genuinely cared for the people of Harlow.

Laura McAlpine with Harlow College journalism students

McAlpine described herself as just a ‘regular woman’ from a working-class family and could therefore truly relate to her constituents.

McAlpine began her presentation by listing the problems in Harlow, such as homelessness and the damaging effects of the closure of Ocasio House – which once provided supported housing for 116 young people. She went on to claim how these events are a result of Tory cuts, where the vulnerable members of society would suffer most.

McAlpine, whose Grandmother Jean McAlpine was a Labour District Councillor for 20 years, made her beliefs known by saying she did not feel Robert Halfon represented the people of Harlow since he voted 49 times, since January 2011, for a reduction in spending on welfare benefits. However, the Harlow MP had almost always voted against corporation tax.

How Robert Halfon voted on welfare and benefits


How Robert Halfon voted on business and the economy

Speaking of her Tory opposition Laura said: ‘I don’t think he [Robert Halfon] represents the people in Harlow. You should represent someone that’s like you because they’re going to have your back, they’re going to understand where you’re coming from.

‘If you’re voting for somebody that isn’t where you’re from or doesn’t have financial struggles then how are they going to really be able to relate to your problems?’

She added: ‘Robert Halfon’s voting record says it all, I don’t really need to take him down on a personal level. He has voted 23 times against corporation tax but at the same time he’s voted 49 times to reduce spending on welfare.

‘I am on the side of the people in Harlow, I’m just a regular woman that’s grown up in Harlow and I’ll have everyone’s back.’

Robert Halfon MP

Robert Halfon MP responded: ‘It is absolutely true that I voted to cut business taxes because cutting them means that companies have more money to invest, grow and employ more Harlow residents.

‘As well as a tax cut for businesses, I’ve also voted to substantially cut taxes for lower earners. I voted for the introduction of the the National Living Wage which increased to £7.83 in April, meaning that since its introduction, the living wage will have boosted the income of the lowest paid by £2,000 a year.

‘On welfare benefits, this does not represent an accurate picture at all. Around £50 billion every year is being spent on benefits alone to support people with disabilities or health conditions, £7 billion more than in 2010 and the Government will continue to spend more than Labour did in 2010 in every year to 2020.

‘Benefits related to the additional costs of disability have been uprated every year, and households in receipt of these benefits are exempt from the benefit cap. This is what I have voted for.’

Kloe Hackett

1 Comment

  1. Carl on 10th May 2018 at 4:12 pm

    Halfon says the criticism of his record on welfare is not “an accurate picture at all” because disability/illness-related benefits spending is now £7bn higher than under Labour. He is choosing to focus on welfare benefits that go to disabled or ill people and ignore the rest—what about the unemployed, pensioners, child benefits, housing benefit for low-earners, etc?

    That figure includes things like housing benefit paid to disabled people, so it will be inflated by things like rising house prices (as rents go up, the government will be paying more housing benefit out).

    He is also giving figures for overall spending on those benefits, not spending per person across the country as a whole, or rates of individual payments, or even percentage of the economy dedicated to it. This allows him to make it sound like a much bigger difference than it actually is, since the population and economy have both grown since 2010 (for instance the population is up by about 5%, so a 5% increase in spending would be needed just to keep pace).

    Some of the increase could even be a result of poorer health caused by an overstretched NHS, higher levels of stress due to tory austerity policies, etc. After all, the more people are disabled or ill, the more spending will rise!

    On the other hand, what happens if we compare the actual rates paid to individual disabled people for specific benefits related to their disability? The mobility component (higher and lower rates) of Personal Independence Payments is lower in real terms this year than the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance was in 2009-10. 45% of PIP claimants in 2016 had their benefits cut or stopped entirely after a ‘review’. This does not square at all with the picture Halfon is trying to paint—he is using headline figures to mask the real human cost of tory austerity.

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