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General election 2024: Communist Party of Britain candidate Lorraine Douglas outlines vision for South West Norfolk

A parliamentary candidate has pledged to provide “an alternative based on hope” ahead of next month’s general election.

Lorraine Douglas, a former housing and homelessness manager in Lynn, was announced as the Communist Party of Britain’s candidate for South West Norfolk last week.

She joins the likes of Independent James Bagge, Labour candidate Terry Jermy, Josie Ratcliffe of the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party’s Pallavi Devulapalli and Toby McKenzie for Reform UK in standing against Liz Truss, who has held the seat since 2010.

Lorraine Douglas, the Communist Party of Britain's candidate for South West Norfolk
Lorraine Douglas, the Communist Party of Britain's candidate for South West Norfolk

Earl Elvis of East Anglia, of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party, and Gary Conway from the Heritage Party make up the rest of the constituency’s options.

In the first of a run of exclusive candidate interviews with the Lynn News, Ms Douglas has outlined her vision for the area.

Locally, she wants to see major improvements to housing, education, healthcare and the environment.

Meanwhile, she also backs the Communist Party’s national agenda, which includes the re-nationalisation of rail, mail, energy and water services - and she also wants to see an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

Ms Douglas’ first campaign event took place in Thetford last week, and she feels she received “quite a positive response” - particularly from younger people and Labour supporters.

“I know that there will be people who will attack us and I know there will be people who try and misrepresent what the Communist Party of Britain stands for. But overall, it's positive,” she said.

“The principal reason we're standing is to bring a message of hope to the people of South West Norfolk, and to show them that there is an alternative to more of the same and more cuts, more austerity.

“It's time to stop making working people in this country pay through the nose for the necessities of life. It shouldn't be necessary to do that. And we can organise ourselves a lot better than we are.”

Ms Douglas believes the cost-of-living crisis would be more aptly named the “cost-of-profits crisis”, and also condemns what she feels is “inherent racism” in the Conservative Party’s stop-the-boats plan.

Locally, she wants to get behind plans to improve Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital - which is set for a rebuild in the coming years. She describes it as “a horrific place” to work and be treated due to its unsafe facilities.

She would back “genuine socialised childcare”, and wants to help farmers who are struggling this year due to excess rainfall and other environmental problems.

And having worked in West Norfolk Council’s housing team up until 2010, she is aware of issues facing people in that regard.

“We don't need more executive home developments in Norfolk. We've got more than enough of those,” she says.

“What we're missing is genuinely affordable homes for our young people and for people who can't afford to rent in the private market and can't afford to buy.

“We want an end to austerity, we want to see public services properly invested in and we want to see the needs of our population met.

“To me, it’s an indication of barbarism in the country that we've got now that the most needy, the most vulnerable, are unable to get the help that they need to be able to live decent lives and to live independently in the community.”

As a Lynn resident, Ms Douglas has also witnessed first-hand some of the pollution problems which have plagued the area in recent years.

She saw with her own eyes pollution flooding through a chalk stream near her home in 2020, and says that many fish died as a result.

But why is she standing herself? What motivates her?

“The first thing we want to do is to get the message to the people of South West Norfolk that there is an alternative, and it's an alternative that is based on hope and based on meeting people's needs,” Ms Douglas says.

“The key issues for us in terms of what we would do in the unlikely event we got power in this election - and there's not that many Communists standing this time round - we would take immediate steps to renationalise or to nationalise the banks, to bring those privatised industries back into public control and ownership.

“We would tax the rich and make them pay their fair share, instead of putting the entire burden of the economy onto the poorest people in in our society and onto people who can least afford to pay. So there are some immediate things that we can do.

“There is a huge job to be done to reconstruct the country after the damage that's been done, particularly in the last 14 years.”

Ms Douglas admits that winning the South West Norfolk seat for the Communist Party would be unlikely, but would be “honoured” if chosen.

She also stresses the importance of constituents having an MP local to their area.

On those parachuted in by their party leaders, Ms Douglas says: “You've got no link to them, and in some cases really quite unpleasant characters are being imposed on local constituency parties.

“So I think it will be a very interesting election. I'd be surprised if Labour got the landslide that everyone is currently predicting because there are so many unknowables, and because there is a still a huge number of undecided people.”

As for plans for between now and July 4’s election, Ms Douglas is planning to visit as many towns and villages as possible, speaking to residents about the Communist Party of Britain’s message.

She hopes to have an election address landing on the doorstep of every home in South West Norfolk, and already has one hustings event planned.

“I would ask people to consider what kind of society you want to live in,” she concludes.

“Do you want to live in a society which is run and functions for the interests of the majority, or do you want to continue living in a society which is being run for the benefit of the super rich and the corporate elite? That, I think, is is the choice that's facing people in South West Norfolk.

“If you vote Communist, you will get an MP who is strongly committed to working for the people and for the interests of the majority, not for the minority.”

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