Steve Ladyman was Labour MP for South Thanet from 1997 to 2010, and Minister of Transport from 2005. He was a hugely popular local MP, and before that, a Thanet councillor and Chairman of Finance. This is a letter to his 'old friends' in South Thanet.
Work took me away from South Thanet after the last election but I still have huge affection for the area and many friends who live there. The Labour Government drove the area forward, halved unemployment, brought in the HS1 fast train service, delivered the East Kent Access road scheme, transformed the NHS in East Kent and provided Children’s Centres and new school buildings so young people would get the start in life they deserved.
Watching that progress come to a grinding halt under the Tory led coalition has been heartbreaking so I can understand local people wanting a fresh start. But the mean-spirited, little England policies of UKIP are not the answer. Nor does the new Tory candidate provide a meaningful alternative. He only offers UKIP policies in a different colour. He was a leading member of Ukip for many years, standing for election for them on five occasions, and has no connections with South Thanet.
Indeed, the fact Mackinlay is not local is a massive disadvantage for him as a candidate, and would be a glaring hindrance for him as the elected MP. South Thanet is utterly unique, and needs a representative who can unite and champion the different parts of the seat, rather than someone weaned on the politics of isolation and division. I lived in the area for many years before becoming MP, and Laura Sandys, to her credit, also spent four years getting to know the area before running. I disagreed with her on many things, but on this point I must give her her due.
Will Scobie is, of course, as local as they come. Every inch of him is South Thanet, and this is exactly what the area needs: a candidate who cares about the constituency because he lives there, and one who will bring the various parts together so as to build something positive for the future. The area needs a change and the only way of achieving this is by voting for Will.
MP for South Thanet, 1997-2010
Steve Ladyman was Labour MP for South Thanet from 1997 to 2010, and Minister of Transport from 2005. He was a hugely popular local MP, and before that, a Thanet councillor...