THE clock is ticking down to the general election on Thursday 12th December which has been billed as one of the most important in a generation.
To help A&T readers make up their minds, all 13 candidates from the three local constituencies have been invited to write up to 400 words to make their pitch for your vote.
Nick Bubb, Green
NOW more than ever, we need to be represented in parliament by someone with integrity, vision and a real passion for positive change. I truly believe that I am a strong, energetic and credible alternative to Desmond Swayne.
My relevant experience stretches from four years working as an investment manager, to six years working in environmental conservation and also includes four years in local politics, as a town councillor.
In my youth I spent 10 years as a professional offshore sailor (having previously obtained an engineering degree) and I’ve lived in the New Forest with my wife since 2009. We have two young children and I am a director at the international wildlife conservation organisation, Fauna and Flora International (FFI).
Ever since sailing around the world in a non-stop race 15 years ago, I believe that the principles of a ‘circular economy’, which govern much of life at sea, can and should be applied to society more broadly.
I fully support the principals of a Green New Deal, which includes revolutionising public transport, rapidly rolling out renewable energy infrastructure – in order to phase out fossil fuels – and building efficient and affordable homes away from green belt areas.
The other key area of focus for me is healthcare. We desperately need a huge boost in NHS funding, an end to privatisation of the NHS and better access to GPs. I’m also demanding reduced A&E waiting times and significant investment into mental healthcare.
Having studied and worked in finance, I understand that people are concerned that some of the Green Party’s spending plans are too ambitious. The reality, though, is if we don’t deal with the climate emergency now, it will be way more costly in the long run. Urgent and decisive action is needed and, if elected, I would provide the leadership and the drive necessary here. We must consider the needs of future generations, alongside immediate needs when taking major decisions.
Every vote for the Green Party sends a powerful message that we must do whatever it takes to tackle the climate emergency. Let’s unite as a community and show the country who we really are!
I will be a breath of fresh air and a safe pair of hands for New Forest West and I will represent the whole community properly. I am the type of leader that this country so desperately needs!
Jack Davies, Liberal Democrat
THE upcoming general election is the most important in our lifetime. Well, mine at least but I’m 23 years old so that’s perhaps not quite the statement it could have been! However, this election really is going to impact the future of our country in ways previous elections haven’t. That’s why it’s important we have the right person fighting for us in Westminster.
Growing up and working in the New Forest has given me a unique perspective of the issues which really matter to local people.
The lack of affordable homes to rent or buy in the New Forest overwhelmingly impacts the lives of young people and working families. There simply isn’t enough public investment in building affordable homes. The government would much rather leave it to private developers. The problem with this is that private developers are predominantly motivated by short-term financial gain rather than long-term social good.
The Liberal Democrats have an ambitious plan of building at least 100,000 new homes for social rent each year and we will introduce a “Help to Rent” scheme for people under 30.
Another issue which flies under the radar in a general election is public transport. The lack of decent public transport routes in much of the New Forest primarily affects young and elderly people who rely on good public transport to get to work or access services in our communities.
It’s ludicrous that, in order to get to Ringwood or Fordingbridge from Lymington or New Milton, you have to go via Bournemouth. We need a direct bus route running between the north and south of the forest.
I would also like to see the Ringwood to Brockenhurst branch line be brought back into use. This is unlikely due to the issues of land ownership but it’s a personal ambition of mine because it would help to reduce the strain on the A337.
Our high streets are struggling. Independent shops are closing down and being replaced by nationwide chains and charity shops. Our high streets are the beating heart of our communities and need our support.
I’m proud that the Liberal Democrats have committed to giving New Forest businesses a 15% tax cut by scrapping business rates and replacing them with a much fairer Commercial Landowner Levy.
On Thursday 12th December, vote Liberal Democrat to build a brighter future for New Forest West.
Jo Graham, Labour
I GREW up in Southampton, where I went to a comprehensive school and was the first generation of my family to go to university. I studied history at York, trained and worked as a teacher, then joined the Science Museum in London as head of interactives. In 1999 I set up my business, Learning Unlimited, working with museums and galleries across the UK to make culture engaging for everyone.
Being a Ringwood resident, I love the New Forest. I’ve lived here for almost 20 years and my children went to the local state schools. As a parent and former teacher, I’m passionate about how education can improve life chances. Tory education cuts have left many New Forest schools with fewer teachers, huge classes and less help for students with special needs. Labour will fund schools properly.
I’m not a politician. I stood here for Labour in the last election because I saw our country heading in the wrong direction. Wealth inequality was rising under Tory austerity. We were definitely not “all in it together”. In 2017, I was proud to come a clear second, doubling the Labour vote. This time there’s even more to fight for. We’ve become so used to relentless cuts and rising poverty. This is not how it has to be.
The climate emergency and inequality are top of my list. We need a green, sustainable economy that works for everyone. The clock is ticking, but Labour’s manifesto sets out a truly bold plan for helping us find a better way to live together and with our planet.
Brexit has sucked the oxygen out of politics. Labour’s customs union-based leave deal would remove the need for years of wrangling over trading rules. So if the result of a final-say referendum was Leave or Remain, that would genuinely be that and we could stop fiddling while Rome burns. Personally, I would back Remain.
We live in a prosperous area but for many here housing is unavailable or unaffordable and jobs are low-paid or insecure. Wage stagnation has left many with no savings and spiralling personal debt. Renters need fair protections and all of us need good quality public services. It’s time for real change.
So that’s what’s important to me – working for a fairer and happier Britain, leading the way internationally on combating the climate crisis.
Sir Desmond Swayne, Conservative
I HAVE represented New Forest West in parliament since 1997. In the last year I have contributed in nearly 300 parliamentary debates and voted in 97% of divisions, in both cases much higher figures than for most MPs.
Prior to my parliamentary career, I was a teacher for seven years and a bank manager for 10 years. I was also an army reservist for 30 years, seeing active service in Iraq in 2003.
I have raised a family in the New Forest and my son and two daughters all went to our local schools.
Whilst I would not have wished for another election so soon after the last one, I believe that it is essential: parliament has been paralysed by indecision about Brexit because there is no majority to deliver the instruction to leave the EU that was given by the voters in the 2016 referendum.
It is vital therefore, that we secure a majority government with a clear mandate to end the dither and delay by getting Brexit done. Only then can we unleash the potential of the British people, and make Britain the best place in the world to live and work.