The Boar talks to Haseeb Arif, Liberal Democrats candidate for Leamington and Warwick in the 2015 General Election.
The Boar (Samantha Hopps): What made you stand in this election as the Lib Dem candidate?
Haseeb Arif: One of my main reasons for running is getting more people involved, and I’ve been asked before whether it’s just young people I’m focused on. That’s not the case. Disenfranchisement doesn’t take place from 17 upwards, it takes place in all walks of society. You know, there are 60-year-olds who don’t want to vote any more. It’s about getting everyone more involved. And where it comes from I think is about passion, making more people passionate about it and inspiring them to get more involved in it.
Boar: The Lib Dems have a bit of a tough time with the student vote at the moment based on tuition fees and broken promises. Do you think that this has had a big impact on the party’s popularity and how would you propose gaining students’ trust in the party again?
HA: I think there’s a danger where politics has become about a single issue for some people, and that’s been tuition fees, and they’ve completely disregarded everything else the Liberal Democrats have done. So there’s a danger when the NUS, for example, launch a campaign which is aimed purely at the Liberal Democrats. If they’re going to just not vote for the Liberal Democrats on one broken promise, I would then argue never vote for Labour again because they lied about tuition fees, never vote for the Conservatives because they promised not to hike up the VAT but they did, never vote for any party because they’ve always changed their image, they’ve always changed what they stand for, and that in essence is a broken promise.
Now, the broken promise of the tuition fees was ill-advised. The Liberal Democrats didn’t think they’d ever get into government, so it was one of those things they just whacked in because it looked good, but even with the fees, more people from poorer backgrounds have gone to university anyway. But people forget also that it wasn’t even our policy to begin with. We didn’t push for £9,000. It’s been portrayed as if we got into government and suddenly said “we want it”. We fought against it in negotiations, it was a Conservative Party policy first and foremost. They wanted uncapped fees, let’s remember this, because the Liberal Democrats made sure it was capped at £9000 to try to compromise. It was also us that made sure the repayment was reformed from the old system to make it fairer.
So whether or not the Liberal Democrats can gain their trust again, I think it’s more about just opening up, showing what we’ve done, showing what we’ve delivered on. So if anyone ever asks can we trust you, well yeah in the past five years we’ve delivered a hell of a lot which we actually said we were going to. It’s just some of the things we couldn’t do.
So if anyone ever asks can we trust you, well yeah in the past five years we’ve delivered a hell of a lot which we actually said we were going to. It’s just some of the things we couldn’t do.
Boar: You briefly mentioned the anti-Lib Dem campaign by the NUS. What do you think about that?
HA: I don’t think the NUS should be politicising themselves because they are an apolitical organisation. It’s very wrong to do so. It also makes politics out to be single issue, and it’s not. Politics, democracy, is about a whole wide range of things, and the NUS, despite their good intentions, they’re going about it the wrong way. I would like the NUS to perhaps review what this campaign is about. Though of course I am completely in favour of politicians not breaking promises! I think politicians should tell the truth, but painting them as liars when they were pushed into a position where they can’t actually follow through on their promise is a bit different than them planning to break the promise in the first place.
I’m a paying member of the NUS still, so my money’s being used to target me. I don’t think I’m happy about that to be quite honest with you. And not every single student is anti-Lib Dem.
Boar: So my final question is…this is the new logo for Warwick University…what do you think about it? (shows old and new logo)
HA: Umm, can I say I prefer the old one? Am I allowed to? I think I like the older one, because that [the flick in the R] looks like a smiley face. It’s saying “look at me, I own this place”. I don’t know what this is supposed to be. Is this a W? Why are the pyramids upside down? It looks modern. From that I couldn’t tell it was a university logo.
Read interviews from the other candidates here;