Were you brought up in the area, and do you live in the area now?
I have been adopted by Stourbridge having chosen to live here rather than Andalusia!
Outside of politics, what are your main interests and hobbies?
Reading: I host the Socialist Ladies book club. We read and discuss uplifting literature. You don’t have to be a Lady but you do have to be a woman to join!
I enjoy walking my dog, although he is losing out to campaigning at the moment. He has behaved badly when I’ve taken him leafleting. (I think he might be a Tory).
I volunteer with the Citizens Advice Bureau once a week.
What are your key local priorities?
Unfortunately, national decisions have a huge impact on local issues. This Government’s austerity program affects every area of local policy. I hate that we now have the concept of the deserving poor versus the scroungers (at least we are all under achieving together!)
The Welfare system is broken, with anyone involved in the benefits system being under scrutiny. It appears that entitlement in the top 1% is acceptable but an entitlement to a safety net into which you have contributed will be questioned and often refused.
Health care is a concern. I worked in the NHS for 30yrs, and I’ve seen the money men move in and prioritise finance over clinical need. I worry that the health service is now so far down the road to privatisation that we may never get it back.
National education policy is now led by ideology, competition and endless testing this divides society and will put us back years.
I’m afraid that Parks and Libraries, which are community assets, will be casualties of austerity. However, I hope that volunteers and skeleton staff may well save them until Labour are back in government.
Which issues do you hear most on the doorstep?
Immigration and Gordon Brown are responsible for most things that have gone wrong, apparently!
What have been the best and worst moments of the campaign so far?
Best: when someone recognised me from my leaflet… yay!
The worst is always when a woman tells me she doesn’t vote.
How would you go about protecting local libraries?
We have to prioritise, so no choice but to ask for help from the community.
In challenging times, what do you think have been the key successes of Dudley’s Labour council?
Difficult decisions have been taken while trying to maintain services, particularly to the vulnerable. Dudley council plus do a great job. The overall management during the EDL protests was impressive .
Where do you see yourself on Labour’s political spectrum, and what are your feelings about Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the party so far?
I am of the Left so agree with Jeremy Corbyn on most issues. He has been consistent throughout his political career and he’s a socialist. What’s not to like? I also think John McDonnell is doing a great job as Shadow Chancellor.
What would be your strategic advice to the Labour leadership between now and 2020?
We are greatly disadvantaged by an almost totally right-wing press, so we need to get the message out on social media. I think we are getting better at this but the Daily Mail is a formidable opponent!
The parliamentary party need to get behind the leadership and stop briefing against JC. It’s divisive and he is our choice – get over it!
— Julie Baines is the litter-pickin’ Labour Party candidate for Amblecote.