On Remembrance Sunday it's time to reflect on the huge debt we owe to those who defend Britain's values.
Remembrance Sunday is always the most moving day of the year.
At 11am I joined thousands of residents at Coronation Gardens to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. So many people paid their respects– many more than I remember when I marched through the town with the Cubs as a child.
As I laid my wreath I reflected on those who fought for the freedom and democracy we take for granted. We owe a huge debt to all who defend the values that make Britain the greatest country in the world.
Earlier I attended the service at Grazebrook Park which I organise with Councillor Shaukat Ali, Deputy Mayor Steve Waltho and the Friends of Buffrey Park. We were joined by Dudley Air Cadets and local veterans Gordon Willetts and John Deane. Reverend Caroline Wickens led our service and Maggie O’Hara led a beautiful rendition of Abide With Me.
I finished the day at Central Methodist for their annual Remembrance Service. It is always a really fitting end to Dudley’s tribute.
Everyone knows immigration can be controversial, but I wasn’t prepared for the reaction when I raised it with David Cameron.
I told the Commons that people in Dudley don’t think people should come here to be unemployed. People should work and pay taxes before claiming benefits. They certainly don’t think it’s fair that child benefit is claimed for children abroad.
The emails and letters I’ve received show most people think that’s common-sense.
It didn’t go down so well in Westminster.
The Prime Minister scoffed and sneered, saying I shouldn’t raise the issue.
The Guardian said I’d stood up to “add his jackboot to immigrants”!
I knew some would not agree, but I didn’t anticipate being called a Nazi.
I don’t go to Parliament to say what the London elite want to hear. I’m there to speak up for people in Dudley.
I’ve been listening to local people and raising their concerns since I became an MP nine years ago. I told the Labour Government it was making mistakes – including on Eastern Europe - and immigration was too high.
But this Government gets it wrong too. David Cameron promised he’d get immigration down to the tens of thousands but it’s gone up to over 240,000.
The asylum system is in chaos and foreign criminals are not being deported.
It’s no wonder people in Dudley think politicians in Westminster haven’t been listening.
I’ve always said that if you want to live in Britain you must be prepared to work hard and pay your way, obey the law and speak English. There’s no other way to play a full part in British society.
Most people think that if you have the skills we need and are working and contributing you’re welcome, but they also think people shouldn’t be free to be unemployed or claim benefits without paying in first. That’s just not fair to people working hard and paying taxes.
I’ve held a dozen meetings to listen to local people’s ideas. I promise that if elected next May I will push for these measures in a new Immigration Bill:
Reform the benefits system: People must wait before claiming and should only get benefits after paying in. No Child Benefit for children living abroad.
Tighter border controls: The border force has been cut so the number stopped and sent home has fallen by 45 per cent. They need more resources to count people in and out.
Bring back fingerprinting at Calais: The Government scrapped fingerprinting so illegal immigrants can’t be identified and turned round.
Deport foreign criminals: It should be easier to deport criminals. People guilty of serious crimes should be banned from coming in the first place.
Charge for NHS care: People who come to Britain should pay up front or their country should foot the bill. Now I want the NHS to make sure people coming here pay a fair price for care.
Local people should go to the top of housing lists: Councils should adopt the policy we have in Dudley where you only get on the housing list if you’ve lived or worked locally for two years.
Controls on cheap foreign labour: The minimum wage must be enforced to stop unscrupulous employers exploiting foreign labour and undercutting British workers. Raise fines to £50,000, ban exploitative zero hours contracts and stop recruitment agencies hiring solely overseas.
Train our young people instead of hiring from abroad: If a large firm can’t find a British worker to fill a vacancy and has to hire abroad they should have to train a British apprentice too.
I think these changes could be introduced now and I’ve urged the government and the Labour Party to look at them. People in London might not like it, but it's my job to listen to local people and speak up for them.