The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidate for Colne Valley has predicted “massive cuts” to public services regardless of which of the three main parties wins the general election. Dr Jackie Grunsell added that her party didn’t feel such cuts were necessary, and instead called for cash being spent on things like bonuses at state-owned banks to be redirected to services such as hospitals, schools and housing.
Dr Grunsell is a local GP, and has served on Kirklees Council since 2006 when she was elected as part of the Save Huddersfield NHS campaign. She is defending her Crosland Moor and Netherton ward on 6 May, as well as standing for Parliament. In her interview with Saddleworth News today, she called for a consultant-led maternity unit to be re-established in Huddersfield, so local women don’t have to go to Halifax to access special baby care.
On the health service more generally, Dr Grunsell opposed the involvement of private companies in the NHS, saying “privatising health services and other public services has cost us more than if those services were provided in-house and Treasury funded.” She also said the privatisation of hospital services such as cleaning and laundry had led to increased problems with infections such as MRSA.
Dr Grunsell said there were about 4,000 properties throughout Kirklees standing empty, and called for those to be converted into affordable housing to help the roughly 6,500 people currently on the council’s housing waiting list. She said she was in favour of more council housing building too, saying: “We are in favour of council housing building, not Housing Association, not privately done, but a nationalised house programme that’s planned to meet the needs of people… in terms of the resources that are there.”
Problems with packed trains and expensive fares on the line from Huddersfield to Manchester have been well documented, and Dr Grunsell said: “The problem there has been this deregulation of transport, the privatisation of rail services, and the fact that lots of different organisations are running the service. It needs to be properly integrated and nationalised… for all types of transport.”
Dr Grunsell said that if she was elected as an MP she would only accept the average wage of a skilled worker. She said she hadn’t claimed any expenses during her four years as a councillor, and had donated her basic councillor’s allowance to local good causes. She explained: “If you’re going to represent people, how can you do it if you live a completely different life? How can you know what their lives are like and accurately reflect their needs if your experience is totally different?”
I interviewed Dr Grunsell at her home in Crosland Moor this morning. We also discussed the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition itself, which is a new entity in British politics, and also how best to help small businesses and preserve the communities of the Colne Valley and Holme Valley.
You can listen to the interview in full by downloading it from here.
My interview with the Labour candidate Debbie Abrahams is here, you can hear from the Green candidate Chas Ball here, my interview with the Conservative Jason McCartney is here, and Melanie Roberts of UKIP’s interview is here.
Also standing in the Colne Valley constituency are the BNP’s Barry Fowler, and Nicola Turner of the Liberal Democrats.