IN the second of our General Election profiles, the Solihull News speaks to Labour candidate Sarah Merrill
PEOPLE don’t realise how much Labour has invested in education and the NHS, that’s the view of Sarah Merrill, the party’s Solihull candidate.
Moving to the borough when she was six months old, Ms Merrill grew up and went to school locally.
Today she divides her time between Westminster and the West Midlands - she will be using her parent’s old house as a campaign HQ.
The 48-year-old said she became interested in politics for several reasons, all stemming from her Solihull upbringing.
“Firstly I was inspired by a politics teacher at Solihull Sixth Form, who’s still there actually, secondly by my mum’s experiences of teaching at Windy Arbour School in Chelmsley Wood.”
She also recalls how her grandparents’ house had been pulled down in the 1980s to make way for a new car park.
“Without wishing to sound bitter, I think that sometimes people care too much about cars, or shops, or how far the car parks are away.
“And you think, well, what about people who can’t drive, what about elderly people or people who don’t want to drive? It’s important to put the community first.”
After graduating from the University of York, Ms Merrill became a film-editor, working for the BBC.
But eventually she decided that she wanted to move into politics and became involved with the union Unite.
Today she works with Justice for Colombia - a trade union movement that is fighting for Human Rights in the South America country.
When she decided to stand as MP, she wanted to do it in her home town: “I think it’s important to have roots somewhere if you want to represent it.”
The mum-of-two explains that child poverty and the environment are the issues which are important to her. She also feels strongly about Labour’s investment in health and education.
“It would be disingenuous to say that Labour has done everything right, but I do honestly believe that we have fulfilled our pledge of education, education, education.
“There’s been a huge amount of investment in new schools. And in the NHS too, I think it’s been forgotten what waiting times were like before 1997.”
Labour has never won the Solihull seat, but Ms Merrill said that the red rosette would be seen far and wide in the coming weeks.
“With the best will in the world, Solihull has never returned a Labour MP. But it’s important that our supporters turn out and that we build our presence on the council.
“Having said that, Lorely Burt has done an amazing job to take this seat off the Tories and I wouldn’t like them to take it back.”