How does your Labour Party conference speech in which you spoke about “One Nation” relate to Doncaster?
The idea of “One Nation” is that everyone has a stake. It’s very relevant to Doncaster. When I think about young people who can’t find work, giving them a stake in the country is good for them and it’s good for the country. We’re never going to succeed without sharing prosperity. We also have a fairer approach to banks which care for small businesses.
“One Nation” is about the things that really matter to people like education and the NHS. People want a sense that the country is working for them. I recognise that one speech doesn’t have all the answers but we are going to be taking the notion of “One Nation” forward. No-one denies that these are hard times but under a Labour government, we believe that we can make life better for people.
Why isn’t more done to deal with the amount of young people in Doncaster North who are not in employment, education or training?
It is a big problem. I spoke to the Labour conference about the forgotten 50 per cent that don’t go to university. What about those who are not academic, where is the proper career route for them?
Previously, people used to go down the mines but that opportunity doesn’t exist any more. We need more apprenticeships and under a Labour government we would tax bankers’ bonuses to help fund more apprenticeships.
Recently, I was at Mexborough job centre and there wasn’t anyone saying they were sitting around not wanting to work. People do want to work but they need the opportunities. While I welcome the recent figures about the economy, I think more can be done to create more jobs so there are more opportunities.
Why don’t you spend more time in the constituency?
I’ve already done 14 surgeries in the constituency this year (and carried out 27 surgeries through 2011). I make sure I do at least one a month. There’s no doubt that being Labour leader puts big demands on my time but my first responsibility is to be an MP here. I hope that people feel that I do take it incredibly seriously.
I love being in Doncaster, it keeps my feet on the ground. There are lots of people here that I know well and that I consider to be good friends. When Justine and I got married, we had a great wedding party in the area. It’s a fantastic area with many challenges but also an amazing sense of community spirit.
What are your thoughts on the mayoral system following the no vote to the system in other cities across the UK?
I have been a supporter of the mayoral system and it is the right system for Doncaster. We will be fielding a mayoral candidate and we will do everything we can to win back control.
We are currently in the position that we dominate the council chamber but there is not a Labour mayor.
Do you have what it takes to be Prime Minister?
I think it’s for other people to take that judgement. I’ve set out where I think this country needs to change and where I think this government is not achieving.
I want to show that Labour has learned lessons from its past and that what we want is for people to have a sense that they’ve got a fair crack of the whip. It’s not fair to cater for the few. That is the real problem with this Government.
What do you think about the news that traders on Mexborough Market have won their battle to prevent a 500 per cent rent increase?
It is relatively good news. A 99 per cent rent increase is hardly good in anyone’s language.
Markets like Doncaster and Mexborough are real community institutions. It’s important that they are protected. They provide many people with a real sense of belonging.
What do you think of the Government’s programme of cuts in the public sector?
I think they’ve gone too far and too fast and it’s been extremely difficult for councils to adjust. It’s not been good for the economy and we are now back to about where we were a year ago.
What do you think about the crime commissioner elections coming up later this month?
I do think that the money would be better spent on frontline policing. The Labour candidate is a strong advocate for frontline policing, which is the main concern of most people I’ve been speaking to.
Do you have plans to see the new James Bond movie, Skyfall?
It is difficult getting out to the cinema when you’ve got two young children. We’re more usually at home with a DVD. But Bond is a great institution and it’s fantastic that it’s the 50th anniversary this year.
I think the Bond that stays with you is always the one you grew up with.