This morning, Gordon Brown has at last called a General Election. After nearly three years, we finally have the chance to have our say on whether we want him to be Prime Minister - and on the MPs who have brought our politics into disrepute.
On 6th May, we will be choosing both who we want to govern our country and who we want to represent us in Parliament.
Nationally, I believe our country needs a change of government.
We can't go on borrowing money we don't have - it risks damaging the recovery and it isn't fair on our children, who will spend most of their lives paying off the debt that Gordon Brown is building up. We should reduce borrowing mainly by reducing government spending and certainly not - as Labour propose - by increasing the taxes businesses pay when they employ people. That will just mean fewer jobs, making it harder for people to get back to work.
We need urgent action to tackle crime and reform our benefit system so that people who work hard and try do the right thing are better off than those who behave irresponsibly.
And we need a sensible immigration system which admits genuine refugees and people with the skills our economy needs, not people who want to come here to claim - and removes people who are here illegally.
But we will only get a change of government if another party wins more seats than Labour. The only party with a realistic chance of doing that is the Conservatives - and Croydon Central is one of the seats we need to win. You might not agree with us on everything but if you want change, you need to vote Conservative. If you vote for an independent, the Liberal Democrats or one of the minor parties - or don't vote at all - you risk getting a Labour MP and another five years of Gordon Brown.
Locally Andrew Pelling has been a good MP. His record on expenses is better than most, though he did support proposals to exempt MPs from the Freedom of Information Act (which, had they passed, would have prevented information about MPs' expenses becoming public) and Labour proposals to give every MP £10,000 of our money every year to promote their achievements - money he has subsequently used to pay for his leaflets and newspaper adverts.
I am standing because I want to clean up our politics. I think the keys to doing that are accountability and total openess. That's why, if elected, I will:
- publish every expense claim and the supporting receipts as I submit it so that you can see exactly what I am claiming;
- publish my diary so that you can see exactly what I am doing every day of the year, not just when Parliament is sitting;
- hold a weekly surgery and work in local schools, businesses, charities etc when Parliament isn't sitting to keep in touch; and
- hold regular public meetings so that you can hold me to account.
And I will campaign:
- for more police on the streets, tougher sentencing and action to tackle the causes of crime like family breakdown;
- to retain Mayday's A&E Department, which Labour are considering closing;
- to reverse Labour's decision that all in-country asylum applications have to be made in Croydon;
- to raise standards in schools by giving teachers back power to impose discipline in the classroom; and
- for improvements to East Croydon station and rail and tram services.
I believe people have a right to meet the candidates who are asking for their vote. So over the next 30 days I want to give as many people as possible the opportunity to question me and tell me what they want their new MP to do. If you'd like to meet me - or, even better, if you'd be prepared to invite a few of your neighbours round so that I can hear from a number of people what the issues are in your area - let me know.
And if you've decided to support me and are able to help my campaign - by displaying a poster, making a donation, delivering a few leaflets and/or helping on polling day - please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org. The result here in Croydon Central is likely to be very close and your help could make the difference.
PS To see a short video about why I am standing click here.