How you vote on 7th May will decide two things.
First, who runs the country for the next five years.
One of two people is going to be Prime Minister after the Election - David Cameron or Ed Miliband.
With the SNP projected to win nearly every seat in Scotland, there’s no chance of Labour winning an overall majority. If Ed Miliband does become PM, it will be with the support of Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon.
So what would you prefer - David Cameron or Ed Miliband dependent on the SNP?
Who do you want representing Britain in Europe: David Cameron, who will renegotiate our relationship and then give us a referendum - or Ed Miliband, who is happy with the EU as it is?
Who do you trust to run our economy: David Cameron, who is sorting out the mess Labour left us in - or Ed Miliband, who still doesn’t accept the last Labour Government spent too much?
You may think neither is perfect, but if you prefer David Cameron you need to vote for me. If Labour win here, Ed Miliband will probably make it to Number 10 - and according to the bookies I’m the only person in with a chance of stopping them.
But as well as choosing who runs the country for the next five years, you’re also choosing who you want to be your MP.
It’s been an honour to do the job for the last five years. I’ve lived in Croydon my whole life and I’m incredibly passionate about it.
I hope you feel I’ve done a good job. I got funding from the Government and Boris to rebuild after the riots, I helped bring Westfield here and I recently secured a new A&E Department at our local hospital.
I’ve also helped thousands of individual constituents with their problems, given 200 local young people work experience in my office and done my best to keep in touch with the people I work for (through these email bulletins for example).
But there’s so much more to do - making sure the Westfield development gets underway as soon as possible, regenerating district centres like Central Parade and Portland Road and moving East Croydon station to zone 4 to save commuters money. Unlike any of my opponents, I’ve published a detailed vision for the future of our town.
Finally a word about my values. I got involved in politics to build a fairer society. I’m sure the other candidates vying for your vote did too - we just disagree about what a fair society looks like or what policies will deliver one.
To me fairness is about ensuring there’s a job for everyone who wants one. Labour care about unemployment too, but their policies tend to increase it. Every Labour Government there’s ever been has left office with more people out of work than when they came to power. Under this Government, unemployment in Croydon Central has halved.
Fairness is about ensuring people get paid a decent wage for a hard day’s work. That’s why I’ve supported increases in the minimum wage and back the Living Wage.
Fairness is about ensuring everyone pays their fair share in tax. This year, the richest 1 per cent will pay a higher share of income tax - and the poorest 50 per cent a lower share - than in any year of the last Labour Government.
Fairness is about ensuring that work pays. That’s why a Conservative Government will increase the personal allowance and the 40p threshold so you can keep more of the money you work hard to earn. It’s why I’ve supported a cap on the amount of benefits out-of-work families can receive - under Labour, some were getting over £50,000 a year. And it’s why I support measures to help people own their own home - and oppose our Labour Council’s plan for half of all new homes built to be council or housing association homes, which will make it harder for people to get on the housing ladder.
Fairness is about ensuring all children get a good start in life. That’s why I’ve backed the closure of schools that are letting our children down - and why I value teachers so highly.
Fairness is about dignity in retirement. That’s why I’ve supported increases in the state pension, the protection of pensioner benefits like the Freedom Pass and a cap on care costs.
And fairness is about not having to worry about the cost of treatment if we get sick or have an accident. The NHS saved my life when I had cancer as a child and gave outstanding care to my Dad when he was dying of Alzheimer’s. It’s one of the best things about this country and I will always protect it.
So that’s my pitch. It’s been an honour to work for you for the last five years. Whether I continue is down to you.