Lancaster MP: Why I’m backing Corbyn

Cat Smith and Jeremy Corbyn on the campaign trail in Lancaster in January
Cat Smith and Jeremy Corbyn on the campaign trail in Lancaster in January

Lancaster MP Cat Smith has revealed she is backing Jeremy Corbyn in the hotly-contested Labour leadership battle.

Three months after she became MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood, Ms Smith has said Mr Corbyn is the right man for the job, and she will be fighting his corner in Westminster when the vote is cast next month.

Cat Smith at the RLI

Cat Smith at the RLI

The 30-year-old Lancaster University graduate has already had the “almost unheard of” privilege of asking two questions at Prime Minister’s Questions.

The first - about when the UK would regain its Triple A Credit Rating - earned her the tongue in cheek suggestion from David Cameron that she herself should run for Labour leadership.

But it’s Jeremy Corbyn that Ms Smith is rooting for, having herself nominated the left-wing Islington North MP for the party’s top job, saying “his vision for the country is closely aligned with my own”.

Ms Smith is openly critical of fracking in the county, as well as cuts to public services, and the recent 10 per cent pay rise for MPs.

When he talks to you it doesn’t feel like he’s got that spin training going on

Cat Smith, MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood

She would also like to see the breaking up of the “big six” energy companies, and more investment into green energy, especially community energy projects like the one at Halton Mill.

She said: “I’m outraged about the latest proposals to fast-track fracking.

“You’ve got a government that says it’s committed to localism, and committed to giving local communities control over energy generation in their area, but it seems to be one rule for fracking companies and another for wind energy companies.

“The government has been hell bent on forcing it through but I don’t think it’s inevitable. I think we can stop it.

Cat Smith being sworn in as an MP

Cat Smith being sworn in as an MP

“Lancashire has a history of changing the world with transport and manufacturing, and we should be leading the next revolution with an energy coast focusing on renewables such as tidal and wind.

“We have very little control over energy companies in this country but it doesn’t have to be this way.

“I’m a big supporter of community energy, Halton has proved it’s possible but the current model we have can’t be used to make any real difference and that’s why we need to break up the big six.”

Ms Smith says more needs to be done to protect people affected by cuts to public services.

“There are a lot of issues with the tax credit situation and housing in terms of government agencies not working properly,” she said.

“The tax credit situation is the worst.

“It seems like the system just doesn’t work for some people.

“There’s been a huge number of cuts and the public sector is having to do a lot more with a lot less people.

“What we need is wages to rise.

“Real wages in the country have been declining since the 1970s. Now if you think about most people’s lives, they need two adults wages coming in just to get by.

“That has a huge impact, while wages in the financial sector have gone through the roof, real wages have not seen a proper increase.”

She describes MP’s pay rises of 10 per cent as “horrendous”.

“MPs are vastly overpaid,” she said.

“It’s horrendous that we have just received a 10 per cent wage increase, while voting for a one per cent public sector increase.

“It’s wrong that MPs have held back pay for working people.

“A good way of building the economy is through wage rises and people are quite rightly fuming that this has happened.

“I have increased my donations to charity and have been able to start paying off my student loan.”

Ms Smith speaks fondly of Jeremy Corbyn, who she worked for prior to entering parliament.

“A lot of people hadn’t realised how in touch he was with people,” she said.

“His vision for the country, and for social justice, equality and foreign policy is closely aligned to the way I see things myself.

“He knows how it works, and he’s been incredibly consistent in his views.

“When he talks to you it doesn’t feel like he’s got that spin training going on, with some politicians you wonder if it’s actually them speaking.

“A lot of them sound the same.

“When I speak to people in Lancaster, no-one has told me that I was so left-wing they couldn’t vote for me.

“We the people own public services, so the idea of selling them off is just crazy.

“The government holds services in trust for the people and to see them take them away and sell them off to their mates really upsets me.

“If Jeremy was to win, I’d like to see the pressure applied there. It seems as if public services are being stolen from us and that winds me up. Jeremy is giving people the hope they’ve been looking for.

“People want sign posts, not weathervanes, as Tony Benn once put it.”

Over the summer, Ms Smith has been out visiting communities in Lancaster and Fleetwood.

Last week she spent time with Lancaster Fairtrade Group, and visited Dolphinholme to see the progression of community broadband with B4RN.

She is also arranging informal meetings in community spaces.

She says her “Chat With Cat” meetings have been taking place in village halls, with the next taking place in Cockerham Village Hall on August 24 between 6pm and 8pm for my Chat With Cat.

Tonight, Thursday August 20, she will be at the Trades Council meeting about the Trades Union Bill at Lancaster Town Hall. It’s a public meeting and it starts at 7.30pm.

She added: “I’m also looking at doing something called Politics in the Pub. Meeting your MP should be informal.

“People don’t meet together as much as they used to, they don’t go down the pub and talk openly about things.

“In human nature we’ve got this huge desire to be around people and speak face to face and I want to bring some of this back so people can become excited and engaged by politics again.”