LABOUR leader Ed Miliband launched an attack on Dewsbury and Mirfield's “part-time” Tory MP Simon Reevell .
Mr Miliband spoke – briefly – to local newspaper journalists before taking questions from ‘undecided voters’ at Dewsbury Town Hall.
He pledged a review of plans to downgrade some services at Dewsbury District Hospital if elected.
Mr Miliband also laid into a Conservative plan to make Dewsbury an enterprise zone.
He said: “So after five years of failing Dewsbury, seven days before the election they suddenly have a plan.”
He referred to Labour manifesto pledges to freeze business rates and create more apprenticeships.
But he focused mostly on Mr Reevell’s record and said: “We just have a better plan and it’s one which puts Dewsbury people first.”
Promising to “review the NHS proposals” and back Labour candidate Paula Sherriff’s opposition to the hospital plans, he added: “Her Conservative opponent appears to be supporting the downgrading.
He added: “Do the people of Dewsbury want Paula Sherriff, who would be a full-time MP, or someone who does not seem to spend much time in Dewsbury or to care much about it?”
Mr Miliband said a Labour government would not see councils like Kirklees used as “a soft touch” for funding cuts “which this government has”.
He promised that Labour, trailing in the latest polls, would protect schemes like Surestart to help poorer families.
He denied a recent pledge to make Islamophobia an “aggravated race hate crime” was a cynical attempt to appeal to electorates with large Muslim populations, as in Dewsbury.
“Whether it is Islamophobia or anti-Semitism, we are seeing a growth in some of these hate crimes,” he said.
“We should work across all government departments to tackle the problem ... I don’t think we are doing enough.”
Mr Miliband did not specify what would be different about his new version of ‘aggravated’ Islamophobia, or define what the actual offence would be.
Asked if it was targeted at winning votes in towns like Dewsbury he said: “Not at all. We have been saying (this) throughout this campaign.”
The audience was invited because they had supposedly told Ms Sherriff’s campaign team they were ‘undecided’.
Questions ranged from the spare room subsidy, which he pledged to axe, to school class sizes, tax avoidance and help for first-time house buyers.
On education, he said Labour would ring-fence the entire budget from cuts, including early years and FE colleges.
When asked about the NHS he said: “I can’t think of anyone better to fight for your local health services than Paula Sherriff, who has led from the front on this issue.
“She is such a contrast with your Tory part-time MP who has been a supporter of these changes.”