Ok so the first day of my local ‘campaign trail’. My aim in writing all of these is to remain as neutral as possible so that you get mainly their opinions (although it’s killing me not to add my thoughts and/or sarcasm after every answer!) I trotted off in my lunch break to meet Mike Willis, the Liberal Democrat candidate for my Area. Mike had invited me to meet him at his home which I presumed would be a large pile somewhere in the Country but turned out to be a modern flat that was ultra sleek and minimalistic.
I could describe Mike by saying that he is a Train Spotter who runs a radio station from his back room and whilst this is indeed true, I’m not sure that it gives a very fair impression of him! He talks a lot and struck me as being a typical Politican but was very welcoming and entertaining and I hope this comes across in the interview. Before you start reading you might want to grab a cup of tea or a glass of wine ‘cos it’s a long one!!!
On to the questions:
I’ll start with a nice easy question! Why should I vote Lib Dem next week?
Ok three reasons: 1) we actually care about the community 2) we really have costed all the programmes that we want to do. Much brighter and much more costed and a more positive future than the other 2 parties who have messed us up for 65 years! Our future is us and we are part of Europe and we have to admit that.
So how did you get into politics in the first place?
Utter frustration. About 4 years ago I was sitting on my bottom chuntering and muttering away about how awful the Country was, as indeed we all do. I was a member of the old Liberal party and used to part of the Conservatives. So, 4 years ago I got out all of the manifestos and said which one resonates with me, which one can I identify with and far above everything it was the Liberal Democrats.
So you didn’t fancy the Monster Raving Loony Party?
No, the reason being I didn’t like the colours!!! (he was joking by the way!!)
Who do you think will win the election?
I have no idea and if you can tell me who is going to win it then I would get down to the betting shop quickly and put your bets on! It’s a three horse race....all three are within a point of each other but the current voting system favours Labour.
What if, as I think it will, it goes to a hung parliament? Positives? Negatives?
I think it’s all positive. Over 60 Countries in the world have coalition governments including Germany the most thriving economy in Europe.
What about the negatives?
I can’t see any because it means there will be talent from two parties in one government rather than preferment of one party in the government. There will be some yelling and screaming and the media will make a show of it as usual. Really it’s only the Conservatives and the Media that are afraid of a Hung Parliament.
What do you personally do in the local community that voters may not be aware of?
I do a huge amount. When I started this campaign, I decided Emma that I wouldn’t take the camera around with me and I haven’t. I have met virtually all the Community groups now in the Town and surrounding Villages and sat down and had a cup of tea with them. I have met 60% of the different pressure groups in the Area. I am a Trustee at JSH. I decided that I didn’t want to be a cheesy politician who turns up in deprived Areas to take a picture and then whips off down the road again, that’s not my style.
I am a Single Mother who works to try and make the best life for my Daughter and I, when actually I’m not that much better off financially than sitting at home on benefits. What incentives would you as party offer to me to make work a worthwhile option?
Under Liberal Democrat policy you wouldn’t pay anything at all on the first £10,000 of your salary, that’s on average that’s about £700 a year more in your pocket. We want to put much more money into Primary and early years education that means you could have more of an opportunity to either be with your child in the Nursery or Reception class or you can leave them there and then go to work. These are proposals and I’m not going to fib to you, they do need to be costed but this is a first year aspiration.
What is your party’s stance on Immigration? Should we allow it, should we put a cap on it? In some area’s i.e. Boston/Peterborough there is a strain on resources i.e. maternity wards, schools etc. How would you deal with this?
First of all under the EU rules we have no control under EU migration in every direction. While places like Boston have a huge Polish community, I have to tell you that places like Spain, Portugal and Italy have a huge numbers of British people living there so it’s the other way round.
Now, what will we do about immigration? For non EU Countries, there will be no cap. First of all we’ll count ‘em in and count ‘em out . Re-establish and give proper powers to the Borders Police Force which Labour got rid of. In terms of the numbers, people will only be able to come here if they have proper jobs in a specific industry, in a specific place and that job is guaranteed by the Employer.
How will you run the NHS? I read yesterday on the BBC website that Nick Clegg is giving Nurses more decision making power? Surely we need to concentrate on clean wards and treatments rather than decision making or pen pushing?
It’s funny you should say that because what Nick Clegg was actually talking about was the huge amount of bureaucracy and pen pushing in the NHS. 41% of all staff in the NHS are Managers which is totally outrageous and 30% of these Managers could go immediately because nobody would know that they’d gone. What we actually need is less Managers and more Nurses.
The way our Pensions work is changing and so at the moment I’ll have to work until I’m the grand old age of 68. I currently pay into a private Pension Scheme so my questions are a) what age will I actually have to work too and b) why should I get less of a state Pension just because I pay into a private scheme?
We quite agree! What we are saying is you don’t have to work until you’re 68, I don’t know where you’ve heard that but that’s not true! (Pension Forecast on the HRWS website.....am aware that I need to get out more!!!) Labour put that out as a frightener! Our plan is quite simple, if you work past the retirement age of 60 and 65 the income tax/capital gains on your private pension will disappear. The tax bill will be 5% on income of over £10,000 per year which is 12% less than you’d be paying now and you also won’t pay National Insurance.
Where will you make the cuts that are obviously needed?
Is that in Government or the NHS or......?
Get rid of the Regional Development Agencies. Regional Governments....what do they do? We’ll also save a £100 billion on Trident as there is no reason for it. Our biggest threat quite frankly are Terrorists sitting somewhere with a bomb belt on and walking down the Street. Do you think Trident is going to worry them? I don’t think so! The other way that we will save money is with Aeroplanes. At the moment they are flying around with no-one in them as they only pay when they have over a certain amount of Passengers. What we are going to say is no, no, no, we are going to charge it on the aeroplane whether it’s full or empty.
I work in Education so I’d like to know what cuts you are planning to make in this area?
We’ll get rid of the Quangos, quality assurance rubbish will all go which will then be monitored by one body. We want to get everyone into a Foundation Degree and then onto a BA Honours degree through Colleges which is equal to being at University. So principally there are no cuts.
What about the people that can’t achieve that because they aren’t academic enough? Not everyone is intelligent enough to be able to complete a Foundation Degree or a BA!
We are investing in them so we will ensure that they get to go to College and do practical courses, vocational course.
What about our Troops out in Afghanistan? Will you be bringing them home and how will you do that and secondly will you put more money into the Armed Forces so that when we send them off to fight wars they at least have the kit to do it with. At the moment it’s quite frankly a disgrace!
What President Obama has said is that within five years the troops will be out. We want to pull out before then but you don’t give a date to the Enemy because then they will just sit back and wait for three years until we have gone. In terms of the investment you are so right....how morally wrong is it to send our troops into battle without the right kit? The awful thing about Emma is that they knew. While these Buggers in Whitehall were having cream tea and scones out guys were out there with the wrong kit.
Do you really think Nick Clegg can lead the Country?
Yes and let me explain why. I’ve met Nick personally twice and I think he is one of the most moral men I’ve ever met, if he says it he truly believes it. He’s a bright, intelligent man who speaks five languages, he is well versed in European law and he can negotiate with Europe in their own language. He is one of the most brilliant negotiators I have ever known.
In the first debate Nick Clegg talked a lot about the expenses scandal in relation to the other two parties but he claimed almost the maximum in allowances. How will he clean up your party?
That’s one of the most serious questions you’re talking about because you’re talking about fraud and the reason that three MP’s are now in Court. About a year ago Nick Clegg and Vince Cable put together an early motion in the house to look at a white paper to clean up the expenses. This was all before the Daily Telegraph started the printing the stories that led to the whole expenses scandal being revealed and it was totally blocked by Labour and the Conservatives. If I’m elected my expenses would be on the website every year and would be completely public.
Nick speaks five languages. How many do you speak?
I speak two.
Not a pre-requisite for joining the party then?
Not really, no!!
How would you describe yourself in a Twitter statement i.e. 140 characters? You might need to think about this one and write it down a few times!!!
A funny chum , who knows how to keep his tootsies on the terra firma (51 characters to save you counting!!!)
What is your secret guilty TV pleasure? Is it like Jeremy Kyle or something?
Anything by Jane Austen, absolutely love Jane Austen.
Tell me something about yourself that your voters may not know?
I run a radio station called B24 today, I have one of the smallest cars in the world a Smart Car, I’m an absolute maniac for Technology!!!
And with that I take a couple of pictures of the radio station studio and myself and Mike:
And scurry back off to my day job! So what are we thinking? Do the Liberal Democrats sound like the right party for you? Have you already decided which way you are voting? Did I ask the right questions or miss out something crucial? Did Mike answer in enough detail? Did you get a good feel for their policies? Feel free to leave me your thoughts and opinions in the comments!