Local Candidates Pitch Before Election Day


Interviews with Lancaster and Fleetwood candidates – courtesy of Benji Holmes

Other local candidates were asked but did not respond

GREEN – Caroline Jackson

Top 3 priorities?

Do something about the climate chaos… complete change in the way we do energy, transport, housing, and industry in order to reduce carbon emissions.

Education – we have to educate people for a different future

Health – we’ve created a sick population

What can the green party offer students?

We would not have student fees and would cancel the debts for those that have already got them […] Ensure that your courses fit the world that you’re living in, not doing a history course about what happened in the past, but actually doing courses about the sustainability of the world, whatever subject you’re doing […] Making sure you get proper health facilities, mental health difficulties in particular get overlooked and that really affects people’s studies.

How will you balance the views of different age demographics?

Work towards a society in which we have much more integration about the way we view ourselves and those who are vulnerable. We did only vote half and half (almost exactly) for leaving or remaining in the EU […] you wouldn’t find that there’s a great deal of clash.

Do you think you have a solid chance to win this seat?

No. (laughter). I’m a realist. We got 2% of the vote last time and the winning party got 55%. What I have is the opportunity to vote (with their hearts I hope) for the climate.

Why don’t you step down in this constituency to allow Labour a better chance of winning, as others have done in other constituencies as part of the Remain Alliance?

It is not a marginal [seat]. Having a person here step down is actually just a way of saying we’re not important enough to be visible in the voting […] What we’re saying is very important […] The climate emergency is much more important than anything anyone else is talking about.

How do you justify a second referendum, and why haven’t you gone as far as the Liberal Democrats and simply promised to cancel Brexit altogether?

We had a vote that said we were going out. We don’t think that when we voted last time we knew what we were doing […] now it’s much easier to have a vote on something that people know about.

The Conservative 2019 manifesto promises net zero emissions by 2050 and investment in clean energy, how much further would you go?

2050 is far too late, it has to be 2030 […] We’ve got to look at travel and transport and say we’re not going to travel in the same way as we have in the past.

Why do you think young people still tend to support the Labour party over the Green party, despite young people’s concern over climate change?

They are still taken in by the whole thing about voting green is a wasted vote […] The Labour party are very active and good at projecting a social action agenda which many people associate with, whereas the Green social action agenda is almost exactly the same. But it’s about that power to attract. Greens have to work very hard to get themselves on any agenda.

What are the Green party’s plans for funding a transition to a more sustainable country and for improving public health?

I think you have to pay for it, it’s as simple as that. What you decide as a Government to borrow and spend your money on is your choice. We would not do certain things like Trident, HS2 – you can save money. We wouldn’t do the internal market in the NHS which would also save money […] It isn’t inevitable that you get older and sicker, it’s about us encouraging people to be healthy.

Would you support a coalition between the Labour, Liberal Democrat, and Green parties?

I think I would, but I would have to wait and see what the Green party central said […] we are so close [to Labour] in so many of our policies, it’s just they might have to push a bit harder and a bit faster in what they want to do about climate if we want to go in with them.

Are you backing any particular US presidential candidate?

Not Mr Trump obviously. I’m very fearful about what would happen if he gets in again because his view of the world is so limited that he endangers our progress. I have to say I’m probably pretty ignorant, I just want the person who’s got the best handle on the climate.

LABOUR – Cat Smith

Top 3 priorities?

Ensure the climate emergency runs through absolutely everything we do

Defending the NHS from privatisation

Make sure any Brexit deal is put to the people

What can the Labour party offer students?

We would abolish tuition fees and bring back maintenance grants […] Labour would implement a £10/hour living wage for every worker, regardless of age.

How will you balance the views of different age demographics?

I think there’s an awful lot everyone has in common – everyone wants a health service which is free […] It’s also wrong to assume that all young people think the same on a big issue like Brexit, or that all older people would think the same on a big issue like Brexit.

Do you think you have a solid chance to win this seat?

I never take anything for granted, I won my seat by just 1,200 votes, I don’t think Lancaster and Fleetwood is a safe seat […] I don’t care if the river Lune freezes over, I’m going to be campaigning

How do you justify a second referendum, and why haven’t you gone as far as the Liberal Democrats and simply promised to cancel Brexit altogether?

I think that the LibDem approach is really undemocratic. I don’t think you can ignore the votes that were cast by 52% of the country and just pretend that never happened, but nor can you take the Conservative approach to ignore 48% of people, who voted to remain. The Labour approach is very much about trying to bring this country together […] The only way through this impasse is to put it back to the people.

What makes Jeremy Corbyn seem so sure that he can negotiate a better deal than the Conservatives have?

Because the Labour party is going into that conversation with a completely different set of values we’re able to get a different deal. I couldn’t support Boris Johnson’s or Theresa May’s Thatcherite deals […] a Labour deal would be different, it would have different conditions – none of Theresa May’s red lines

The Conservative 2019 manifesto promises net zero emissions by 2050 and investment in clean energy, how much further would you go?

I don’t trust the Conservative party an inch that they can do anything to deliver the level of changes that we need as a country to be able to stop the catastrophic changes from the climate emergency

Some fact-checkers claim the Labour manifesto is not fully costed, how do you respond to that?

Our manifesto is fully costed […] yes we do have ambitious spending plans but that’s because we have to be ambitious […] we can’t afford not to.

Do you think there’s an antisemitism problem in the Labour party?

Yes there have been people who are antisemitic who have joined the Labour party […] part of that was the challenge of our membership quadrupling overnight in 2015, our systems were designed for a party of much smaller numbers. I don’t deny that people who hold abhorrent, racist, antisemitic viewpoints have joined the Labour party and do exist in society

Are you backing any particular US presidential candidate?

I don’t like it when American politicians come here and tell us what we should be doing as UK voters […] so I’m not going to as a Labour politician say who US voters should vote for. This is our election and that’s their election.

Would you support a coalition between the Labour party and other left-leaning parties?

I’m campaigning for a Labour majority government […] I don’t envisage that situation.


Top 3 priorities?

In the event of a majority Liberal Democrat government […] we would be revoking Article 50 […] In all other circumstances we would want to put a clearly understood ‘Leave’ proposition and a ‘Remain’ proposition in a second vote.

The climate emergency […] we need to move away from burning fossil fuels […] and into using electricity.

Public services generally, it’s not just the NHS. It’s the NHS, it’s education, it’s policing.

What can the Liberal Democrat party offer students?

We would now want to review the way universities are financed. We would want to introduce maintenance grants […] I would like to see many of the students who come out of this university feeling able to stay in this area and work here, so the prosperity of the local economy is very important.

How will you balance the views of different age demographics?

I’m not sure the division you highlight is always the right one. The part of Lancaster which is just south of the river Lune […] is very much a University-dominated area – there’s a significant population of academics and of well-educated people. That is a very different population, whatever its age demographic, than the population of Fleetwood and of the population of many of the villages that are in this constituency.

Do you think you have a solid chance to win this seat?

I’m going to be painfully honest. It seems unlikely as things currently stand that we will win this seat. I think there are very solid reasons why people should vote Liberal Democrat […] But realistically, I think that this is a relatively safe Labour seat. It’s Conservative target seat number 97. If the Labour party are really in danger of losing this seat, then they are going to be having a very bad night indeed.

Why don’t you step down in this constituency to allow Labour a better chance of winning, as others have done in other constituencies as part of the Remain Alliance?

Those negotiations took place at a national level. I wasn’t personally involved. No proposition was put forward to me, or as far as I’m aware to the Green candidate, that either of us should stand aside.

How do you justify cancelling Brexit altogether?

If we won a general election, if we went from 20 seats to 330 seats, I think it would be entirely reasonable to say that, ladies and gentlemen, is a mandate for delivering our manifesto, including the revocation of Article 50.

How can students trust the Liberal Democrats again after they failed to push back against student fees?

Well, if we want to look back at the past, we’ll find things that all parties have done that we don’t like. We could point to the Labour party and say, ‘you took us to war in Iraq’. We have apologised for our failure to deliver on that promise. Everybody, I think, should understand a coalition’s a coalition. If you’re the minority party, you don’t get to put your entire manifesto into effect […] It’s broadly not true that we didn’t do any good at all in the coalition. I think you had a better government than you would have had in a Conservative majority government.

Would you support a formalised coalition with Labour?

I wouldn’t see the Liberal Democrats supporting a formalised coalition with anybody. I think you would find that the experience of the 2015 election is still a deep wound for us. What we wish to do is rebuild our party. In 2010, membership locally is about a quarter of what it is now, so we have made a lot of progress. We would not risk that progress by going into a formal coalition but we certainly would in delivering policy that we believe in.

If the Liberal Democrats’ main priority is to stop Brexit, would the best thing not be to stand down so as not to split the remain vote?

Electoral arithmetic is more complicated than the binary choice theory makes it sound. In this election we have a Labour party which is well to the left of where it’s traditionally been, and a Conservative party which is extremely far to the right of where it’s traditionally been […] The Liberal Democrats provide a home for people who say to me ‘I’ve always voted Conservative but I cannot vote for this Conservative party’ […] I also have members and supporters who have left the Labour party because of its trajectory, because of momentum, because of the strongly socialist proposition it now puts forward. If the Liberal Democrats don’t stand then those people don’t have a comfortable home to go to.

Are you backing any particular US presidential candidate?

I think it’s a safe assumption that it would be a Democratic presidential candidate. I’m not really a close follower of American politics and at the moment there are so many Democrats in the race that it’s really hard to make the distinctions between them. I suspect that Michael Bloomberg would be the Democrat most likely to defeat Trump and for that reason alone I’d be very tempted to say he’d be the candidate I’d most like to see.

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