Saturday 1 May 2010

Election Edition Part 2 - Conservatives

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So day number two and over to the Conservatives.  I met Nicky Morgan at her local office which handily for me is right around the corner from my house!  I arrived right on time and had a good look around the office....nothing bizarre to report apart from a slight 'thing' for a certain Mr. Cameron, judging from the pictures on the wall!!!!

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Nicky as I’d heard conflicting reports as to other people’s opinion of her but I thought that (much to my disgust, as I never thought I’d say it!!) she came across very well.  If I could describe Nicky in three words I would have to go with articulate, intelligent and (seemingly) genuine.  I asked similar questions to yesterday (and again this is a monster post so I suggest grabbing a tea or vino) here goes:

I’ll start with a nice easy question! Why should I vote Conservative next week?
Because a vote for the Conservatives here is a vote for change and I think that Britain needs to be changed, we need action to sort out our Economy, I think there are elements of our Society that are broken, we need better support for Families and better Childcare arrangements and I think our Politics is broken and sick and having a whole new raft of faces in the House of Commons would be a good thing. I’ve been a candidate for 6 years in this town and hope that I have a good understanding of the views and think I would be a good voice for this Area in Westminster. It would also be good to have a Female MP in this Area and think that actually I would be the first one. Those are just some of the reasons. Locally I have a business background and have been a candidate for 6 years here at my own expense.

So no Monster Raving Loony Party then?
No!!! (with lots of laughing!!)

Who do you think will win the election?
My instinct is that the Conservatives will certainly be the largest party, whether they would win outright or not or if they could pick up enough seats and then work with the Lib Dems, I don’t know. But that’s what makes it so exciting and that’s why people are so engaged is because it’s an unknown result.

What, if as I think it will, it goes to a hung parliament? Positives? Negatives?  How do you see this working?
I think people will be interested in seeing whether parties can work together and there may be some areas for compromise so whoever the largest party is will have to take notice of other political views, so I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I have equal numbers of people saying it will never work and why not try it and see.

What do you think the biggest challenges of that would be?
There are some areas that I’ve no doubt the parties can work together on, for instance care for the elderly because I kind of think that we are already coming together on some of the big issues. Same with things like childcare arrangements and families but with things like voting reform certainly the Conservatives have very different views from Labour or the Lib Dems and I think that will be a big sticking point so it’ll be interesting to see if we can compromise.  The other thing will be to see what message it sends out to the rest of the world. My particular concern is about the strength of the pound and the Conservative government is committed to sorting out the deficit situation!

What do you personally do in the local community that voters may not be aware of?
Well, I’ve only really done things through being the Parliamentary Candidate but through that I’ve done things like setting up a Business Club so supporting businesses of all sizes.  We’ve done things like having an anti-social behaviour workshop so, getting together the Council and Police and local Residents to try and get people to talk to each other and understand what can be done and we have also held two Careers workshops getting together people to talk about CV writing etc. I think it’s all about practical demonstration and there is no point talking, if you want it to work you have to do it.

I’m a Single Mother who works very hard to provide for my Daughter however financially I’m not much better off working than I would be sitting at home on my backside claiming benefits.  What would you do to encourage parents into the work place and off benefits?
Iain Duncan Smith the ex-Leader of the Conservatives has done a lot of work for the Social Justice Office on this and basically found that your wage has to be over a certain level before there is any benefit in working which is just crazy, what we should be doing is kind of tapering the benefits and things that people do get so that people don’t lose it instantly. The Conservatives will say yes that you still need help with your Council Tax and your rent until you get yourself sorted. I was recently contacted by a Lady who as soon as she said she got a job she lost her benefits but she didn’t get paid until the end of the first month so how is she supposed to live? This is where a bit of common sense wouldn’t go amiss because one more month of benefits in the grand scheme of things I think is worth investing.

 So what about your policy to offer tax incentives to married couples?  What’s the idea behind that?
The idea is not just for married couples, it’s for civil partnerships too, straight or gay but the idea basically is that couples don’t lose out. I think that single parents get help and widowed parents get help but the people who seem to be missing out are the ones who manage to stay together and sometimes people have to pretend that they’ve separated to try and get more money.  It’s not a huge amount of money and we understand that people aren’t going to get married for £3 a week but it’s more a signal that we attach much importance to the people that are together.

What is your party’s stance on Immigration? Should we allow 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 that?
Our overall policy on immigration is that yes it would continue as Britain has benefitted enormously from the tradition that we have of people moving here and I don’t think that should stop. EU we have signed up as a Country and so cannot control that but what we can do is control new Countries joining the EU which is what the government didn’t do when Poland and Bulgaria joined.  For non EU we are saying that we would have a cap on the number of people who could come here and they would need to be skilled workers and they would have to have a certain number of points. Immigration is one of the issues that is mentioned to me all the time and I think any Politician, ala Gordon Brown for instance that is surprised when people talk about it, well shouldn’t be surprised as it’s mentioned all the time. We would have stronger Border Police and so monitor people coming in and out, crack down on the student visas. If people do want to come here with their families they all need to speak English and I think that helps with integration into the Community too!

I’ll come on to budget cuts in a second but how would you pay for the extra immigration and border police?
There’s a phenomenal amount of waste in the government, you know Management Consultants, government advertising, Quangos, pen pushing. So that kind of thing can be scrapped and we can re-deploy the money where it’s better used on the front line.

How would you run the NHS? What people are concerned about are waiting lists, clean wards and nurses looking after patients rather than pen pushing?
Well it’s less paper, having appropriate targets that are set by the Doctors and Nurses, so there may be some targets that are really useful i.e. being seen quickly in A&E but these don’t always work. There are too many bureaucrats and there are more Managers now than there are beds but it’s also about encouraging responsibility and pride in your work.  In our jobs at the end of the day the responsibility stops with us and to be honest David Cameron isn’t going to be coming down and cleaning the wards, that has to be the people that are actually on the wards.

What’s your opinion on Trident?
I think we do need to re-new it.  I appreciate that it’s a lot of money but it gives us a voice at the top level in the World and in foreign international affairs.  The trouble is that we don’t know what our biggest threat is and that’s what makes it so scary. If Iran get nuclear weapons and we’ve done away with ours then we would be scrabbling to keep up.

What about inheritance tax? I read that you are going to lower the limit but surely that benefits the rich rather than the poor?
It’s for Estates over a million pound that they would pay so actually in certain parts of the Country if you own a family home and have savings or whatever then you get pretty close to that level amazingly without being rich in terms of cash. A lot of people have put their money into property but don’t consider themselves to be that well off and then the families find that when they die you have to pay a vast amount of money on it.  Everyone keeps asking about inheritance tax but you’ve already paid money on it all during your lifetime with paying income tax on it and stamp duty when you move house.

Whilst we’re talking about money we all know that we need budget cuts but where are you going to make them and how will it impact our day to day life?
We have three areas that are protected: One is the NHS and we are the only party to promise to protect the NHS in real terms, International Development but of course in an effective way and defence but only on the basis that we need to review the defence budget as we need to ensure we are spending it in the right areas.  Everything else is going to be up for review but our priority is to make sure that the cuts don’t hit the front line, so not Policing etc. The kind of things that we can out on hold for a few years are road bypasses, IT Projects so that we can afford to keep the Police, Doctors, Teachers on the front line.

What about the war in Afghanistan? Would we stay there or will you bring the boys (and girls) home? Secondly will they get the kit they need?
Yes they will get the kit they need because I think we have a very serious commitment to our Military. If you are going to send them into danger you need to give them the equipment.  We don’t have a response for an immediate withdrawal but we need to think very seriously about why we are there and what we are hoping to achieve and I’m probably more bullish than the party on this because I think it’s very difficult to achieve what we want to achieve as it’s a Country of very different culture and customs and we need to ask ourselves at some point, how many more deaths do we want.

I work in education and I know that we are facing a couple of lean years due to cuts that we’ve already heard about, what other cuts are likely to be made in education?
Well I would think that the spending on buildings would stop.  I can’t write the budget and it will depend on how Michael Gover views these things but the things that will be affected are big projects and maybe things aren’t renewed as quickly for example but the plan is to try not to cut front line staff like Teachers and Lecturers. In terms of Adult Education we are setting up a million pound fund for this, so actually investing in Adult Education.

My other question on education is this.  How, apart from throwing money at it, are you going to deal with the 30,000 people a year that leave school barely literate?
Well that’s why I think we want this Community Learning Fund. There are lots of different groups at the moment and they are not achieving what they set out to achieve so we need to bring them all together to make it much simpler and to focus on making sure people are literate and numerate. As well of course as making sure our schools are no longer turning out people that are not literate and numerate.

Can you guarantee our pensions and will we have to work beyond the current retirement age?
Yes we can guarantee the pensions but we will have to work beyond the current retirement age and I don’t know how old you are (30ish actually!!!) but I will have to work until 67. We hope it won’t be extended any further but people are living longer so the idea that we used to retire at 60 and then be dead within three or five years that’s changed now and people might live 20 or 30 years even.

Getting on to a completely different topic now. The Conservative Policy Green Paper, Open Source Planning, states: 
"We will maintain national Green Belt protection, Areas of Outstanding Nature Beauty, National parks, Sites of Special Scientific Interest and other environmental designations which protect the character of our county's landscape, stop unsustainable urban sprawl and preserve wildlife."
Leicestershire's precious Green Wedges do not have the designation of Green Belt but serve the same purpose without the same protection.   What action would the Conservatives take to protect these Wedges and preserve and protect the character and beauty of Leicestershire?
If I was elected I would work together with the other Leicestershire MP’s so that even if we couldn’t get official protection, we want to work with the Councils to make sure that these green wedges aren’t built on.  Once we lose these green lungs we’ve lost them forever and one of the big things is about not having Regional housing targets but for local Councils to decide what the demand is and part of the open source planning is to give local Communities much more of a say over where new buildings go.

What do you think are the Oppositions weakest policies?
In terms of the Lib Dems that slightly easier, I think the immigration policy which I’m not impressed with and also getting rid of prison sentences that are under 6 months. You need flexibility and that for the judges and the courts to decide.  There maybe people for whom Prison is a short sharp shock and they think I don’t want to come back here.

As far as the Labour party is concerned I think the problem is that it’s not the policies so much as the lack of credibility. Gordon Brown thought he’d ended boom and bust and so carried on spending and when we did hit a recession we had no cushion that we needed!

This is probably a silly question but do you really think David Cameron can lead the Country?
I do.  I mean I’ve looked him in the eye and said do you realise what problems there are and he said yes!

But what about the opinion of some that he is just a posh boy?  Do you think that’s true or is he more Streetwise then he’s given credit for?
I think he’s a lot more streetwise.  I don’t think anybody can be a Parliamentary candidate or Mp in this day and age without understanding how people live their lives.  Just because you are from a privileged background doesn’t mean you can’t understand other people’s lives and I think that sign a good politician is listening and finding out for yourself. His children go to State schools, he has the best understanding of the NHS and personally I think he’s mad to want the job!!!

How well do you think he has performed in the televised debates?
I think he was stronger in the second one than the first as the weight of expectation was very much on his shoulders and that’s a huge thing to have to deal with. I was really impressed when he got really angry about the Labour lie leaflets, he was furious and quite rightly because we were all furious about them.

Tonight is the final debate and it’s the Heavyweight one talking about the economy.  Who do you think will be pulling the most punches? (This was on Thursday before the debate)
Well I think Gordon Brown would’ve done but I’ll be very interested to see how he has bounced back from yesterday’s saga but I think no-one will mention it because none of the other parties need to talk about it. David Cameron studied Economics at University whereas Clegg will claim that Vince Cable forsaw all the disasters and he is well respected. Let’s see what Gordon Brown has to say. The fact is that he was Chancellor and now here we are in a dire economic situation.

So what do you think about yesterday’s saga? (Gordon Brown called a woman a Bigot!)
I think it’s really unfortunate and I think it is bad news for all politics and politicians. People were beginning to get really engaged in the election and they still are but it just kind of confirms in people’s minds that I always thought that said one thing in public and one in private.

That’s all my official Politician questions done!  So onto the ‘fluffy’ questions......How would you describe yourself in a Twitter statement i.e. 140 characters or less?
(Nicky’s Assistant chipped in at this point with Hardworking!!) Hardworking, Committed, Good with people, loud laugh and in touch with reality! (76, so that you don’t have to count!!)

What is your secret guilty TV pleasure?
Hahaha....doing this I don’t really have time to watch TV.  Let me think erm.....I would probably sit down and watch Friends ‘cos they are quite easy to watch. Oh and I loved Mistresses when that was on last year!

With all my questions done we sit and chat about Motherhood and my Town for a few minutes, exchanging pleasantries, before I step out into the rain and head back to my real life in the Ghetto where my 7 year old isn’t remotely bothered about Politics and wants to know what she can eat in the next 5 minutes and why she has to have a bath and can’t stay dirty!!!  Not sure the Conservatives can help me with these issues!!!!

Again what are we thinking? Do the Conservatives maybe 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? Feel free to leave me your thoughts and opinions in the comments!


  1. Good questions again, I like that you asked some different questions that are more relevant to the party. I did think some of her answers came across as a bit rehearsed. Defintely more so than the Lib Dem guy (but I've always voted for the Lib Dems so I am biased!), however she seemed a woman who believes in what she's saying and that's all you can ask for.
    Love Aunty Nelly xxxx

  2. @Nelly.....I like that you think my questions are good!! She really did seem genuine and I liked her a lot....if she was running for Prime Minister I would think about voting Conservative!!!

  3. Yet a want to be politician with responses to questions that look great but nothing, I am sorry but if the Conservatives get in to power, it will take them an age to sort out the country from the previous government before they can put any of their good ideas into being.

    breathing, lips moving, sorry same old again.
    The organ Grinder.