Image: Ana Clara Paniago / The Boar

Interview: Michelle Lowe, Conservative candidate for Coventry South

The Boar interviewed Michelle Lowe, the Conservative candidate for Coventry South in the upcoming General Election.

The Boar: Times Higher Education have recently announced that the University of Warwick is the 17th most international university in the world. How would you take these students into account when looking at Brexit negotiations, especially considering the possible decrease in international students in the coming years?

Michelle Lowe: “David Davis, the Brexit minister and former student of Warwick University, made clear on his visit to Coventry that the final Brexit deal would not impact on universities taking on foreign students. If I am elected as your Member of Parliament, with two universities in my constituency that take large numbers of international students, I will fight hard to ensure that the Universities can continue to benefit from international students.”

Current statistics suggest that 1 in 4 people suffer from mental health problems during their lifetime, with students reporting to be particularly vulnerable. Given the financial and social crises facing the NHS, how would you ensure adequate provisions were made to support this proportion of the population and, if so, what would they be?

“Housing and Public health that promote wellbeing are issues that are close to my heart and I was delighted that Theresa May raised the issue of mental ill health on the steps of Downing Street as she became Prime Minister and that there is a whole section on mental ill health in our manifesto.

Since 2010 we have increased spending on mental health each year to a record
£11.4 billion in 2016/17, with a further investment of £1 billion by 20/21, so that we can deliver the mental health services people deserve. We will now build on this commitment in the next Parliament.

First, we will address the need for better treatments across the whole spectrum of mental
health conditions. We will make the UK the leading research and technology economy in
the world for mental health, bringing together public, private and charitable investment.
Improving  treatment  services  will  not  be  sufficient,  however.

We  will  also  reform outdated laws to ensure that those with mental illness are treated fairly and employers fulfil their responsibilities effectively. The  current  Mental  Health  Act  does  not  operate  as  it  should:  if  you  are  put  on  a   community  treatment  order  it  is  very  difficult  to  be  discharged;  sectioning  is  too  often  used to detain rather than treat; families’ information about their loved ones is severely curtailed – parents can be the last to learn that their son or daughter has been sectioned.
So we will introduce the first new Mental Health Bill for thirty-five years, putting parity of esteem at the heart of treatment.

We  will  transform  how  mental  health  is  regarded  in  the  workplace.  We  will  amend  health  and  safety  regulations  so  that  employers  provide  appropriate  first  aid  training  and  needs-assessment  for  mental  health,  as  they  currently  do  for  risks  to  physical  health,  and  extend Equalities  Act  protections  against  discrimination  to  mental  health  conditions  that  are  episodic and fluctuating. We will consider the findings of the Stevenson-Farmer Review into workplace mental health support, working with employers to encourage new products and incentives to improve the mental health and wellbeing support available to their employees. And,  as  we  did  with  Dementia  Friends,  we  will  train  one  million  members  of  the  public  in  basic mental health awareness and first aid to break the stigma of mental illness.

As your MP I would like to also focus on the pressures that young people, including students face, and how that impacts on their overall mental wellbeing to see what more we can do to help.

The local bus services have largely failed to meet the demands placed upon it by both students and local residents, continuing to raise prices above the rate of inflation whilst failing to increase the volume or reliability of services to meet demands. What would you do to improve the state of public transport within the constituency, both for students and local residents?

“I will work with your local councils, West Midlands Mayor as well as putting pressure on the bus companies to improve bus services in Coventry and Warwickshire.

Last August, it was revealed that Coventry would resettle the largest number of Syrian refugees in the country. What is your stance on the current refugee crisis, given the amount of work that the Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre does and the support from the university?

“The Conservative Party Manifesto has reiterated our commitment to spending  0.7% on foreign aid which helps vulnerable people in their own countries or safe havens nearby. On top of that the manifesto commits Britain’s help to helping the most vulnerable refugees in this country – the people that really need our help and I think that is right and proper.

There is a huge humanitarian refugee crisis at the moment, in particular reflecting the war in Syria, and the UK government is a major supporter of refugees either in the Middle East plus we are homing the 20,000 most vulnerable in the UK.

Coventry has been named the most dangerous city in the UK and the 7th most dangerous city in Europe. What would you put in place to combat this and to make sure students feel safe?

“This is a matter for holding the Police and Crime Commissioner to account for not addressing crime in the city, but also working with him and the Council’s Community Safety Unit to do all we can to bring crime levels down.”

Read our other interviews with candidates in Coventry South:

Aimee Challenor, Green Party

Jim Cunningham, Labour Party

Greg Judge, Liberal Democrats 

We have also contacted the other parties in Coventry South.


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