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GE2019: Leamington candidates on Brexit, crime, climate and more

For this month’s General Election, The Boar interviewed the candidates for Warwick and Leamington to provide information for students at the University of Warwick who are voting in the constituency.

The Boar asked candidates to answer five questions, relating to the topics of Brexit, higher education in the UK, the climate emergency, local crime and healthcare. Candidates were also offered a 10-minute phone interview on questions related to the aforementioned topics.

The Warwick and Leamington candidates who responded to The Boar‘s enquiries in time were Louis Adam (Liberal Democrat), Jonathan Chilvers (Green), Jack Rankin (Conservative) and Matt Western (Labour). Tim Griffiths (Brexit Party), Bob Dhillon (Independent Party) and Xander Bennet (Social Democratic Party) did not participate.

Our live coverage of the official Warwick and Leamington General Election hustings hosted by Warwick Politics Society is available here. To see each question that was asked and the respective answers, click on the Tweets collated in this Twitter Moment, which is also available at the bottom of this article.

Louis Adam (Liberal Democrat)

The Boar: How will you work to mitigate the effects of Brexit on the local economy and jobs in the industrial sector in the constituency?

LA: The Liberal Democrats will to stop Brexit. This will unlock a £50 Billion remain bonus that we will get from remaining in the EU and will spend that on our public services, infrastructure, and strengthening our local economy.

This continued membership will mean that companies, such as JLR or local Games designers, will have full access to the single market that only remaining in the EU can deliver. Unlike other two main parties we are the only party who wants to maintain freedom of movement. This is vital for our local businesses and the university. European citizens, whether it is students on Erasmus or those employed in the local economy, provide diverse experiences which enrich our economy and culture, we want to end the uncertainly around their status.

We have always supported a Peoples Vote as the best democratic way to end Brexit, but a Liberal Democrat majority Government should not be expected to negotiate a deal that it will campaign against.

Barnaby Papadopulos (for The Boar): You have said that your party is committed to stopping Brexit all together, and so has the Liberal Democrats. Yet, in October, Labour, the SNP, and even Kenneth Clarke – it was rumoured – were ready to put Jeremy Corbyn into Downing Street for a limited time to stop a no-deal exit from the EU, and legislate for a second referendum. But your leader Jo Swinson rejected this offer, saying she would never put Jeremy Corbyn into Downing Street. How committed then are the Lib Dems to stopping Brexit really?

LA: It’s been a fundamental aspect of our policy since the Brexit issue came up and we thought it was a bad idea and not within the interests of the country. If you look at parliamentary arithmetic that would have been needed to get Corbyn emergency government, it just wasn’t there, and even with some of the support you’ve just mentioned, I think it wasn’t a realistic option that we would have a number of Conservatives that would still hold the government at the time and support the idea of a Corbyn government. Ultimately that’s what we’re dealing with, that reality check, and that’s why a lot of people are still not turning to the Labour Party now – it’s because they know that that would make Jeremy Corbyn the leader. We have put forward 17 amendments for a People’s Vote over the last parliament. Five of those have gone through to be voted for, and those have not been supported by the Labour Party. This is clear evidence that the Liberal Democrats are absolutely committed to stopping Brexit and are trying to deliver that in every democratic way possible, that we thought is valid. We’re not the problem when it comes to stopping Brexit, the Labour Party is.

The Boar: What do you think is the biggest problem facing higher education right now and how will you help tackle it for students living within the constituency?

LA: From speaking to student I understand that the three biggest issues facing them are: their cost of living, efficient bus services, and housing.

Since 2015 the Conservatives have scrapped all maintenance grants and reduced the total amount that students can get with maintenance loans. The Liberal Democrats will fully restore maintenance grants, back to at least the level we had them in 2015 if not more.

We will also substantially increase funding for buses, enabling local authorities to restore old routes and open new ones. Encouraging our local authority to use their new powers under the Bus Services Act, including franchising powers, a Liberal Democrat government will also repeal the rule preventing local councils from running their own bus companies. The current bus service for students at Warwick University are not for purpose and this needs to be addressed.

Housing is a giant issue for student. Too often tenants are left with very few rights. We are looking to set minimum standards for the quality of housing, ensure appropriate caps on rents and improve protections against rouge landlords through mandatory licensing.

BP: The Liberal Democrats have pledged to reinstate maintenance grants to support the poorest university student. Given that, before 2010, the Liberal Democrats promised not to increase tuition fees, why should students trust you to keep your promises now?

LA: Ultimately, I’m unhappy with the fact we weren’t able to stick by that pledge in the 2010 election. And that’s something I’m uncomfortable with as a Liberal Democrat. That said, I wasn’t in the party at that point and we’ve actually come a long way. What we’re looking at in terms of funding higher education now is the need to have set tuition fees, so that there is a sustainable economy around the higher education sector. But the impact that I see on students is now more about maintaining those living costs and making it sustainable for any person from any background to even want to access higher education.

Ultimately, I think investing in people by allowing them to have maintenance grants, by allowing for those people from lower income backgrounds to get into higher education without them feeling that they can’t afford to live day to day, is actually a stronger incentive towards delivering higher education. What we’d then look to do is make sure that any low-income student can sustainably pay back their loans through a sustainable graduate tax.

We’re also looking to go further and make sure that it’s not just university-focussed because there’s clearly a lot of opportunities for people outside of university and higher education. What we’re looking at is things like vocational training through interaction with the industrial sector, which I personally benefited from before my university career, which made a real difference to me. You then have to look at what investment we need to give to adults so that they can retrain and reskill themselves, so that they can invest in skills they will use over the course of their life. So, these are the signs we’re looking to invest in and as Liberal Democrats, I think we’ve always had a very strong head on our shoulders for the economic arguments and what people want to change, and that’s why they should trust us.

The Boar: A recent poll by ClientEarth indicated that almost two-thirds of people agreed the climate emergency was the biggest issue facing humankind. How will you ensure that the climate crisis is addressed in the constituency?

LA: Every aspect of the Liberal Democrat Manifesto considers the need to be carbon-zero, from economics and business to housing and local services.

We will re-institute the Green investment bank to provide the capital our green industry needs to innovate and provide more renewable energy for less. We want to encourage the use of new technology such as heating homes with hydrogen instead of natural gas and we want to see real investment in renewable energy sources such as solar panels, generating power close to where it is used. We will also ban fracking.

We will end the sale of diesel and petrol cars by 2030. We want to ensure a massive expansion of electric vehicles, and better sustainable public transport to reduce the need to personal cars. This can be achieved in part by giving local councils greater powers to promote green public transport, electric vehicles, cycling and walking.

Additionally, to address air pollution and the need for a better ecosystem, we have pledged to plant 60m trees every year, increasing the UK’s forest cover by 1m hectares by 2045. Our plan includes the largest tree-planting programme in UK history, which will increase the green in our towns and countryside to absorb damaging emissions.

BP: On climate change, you described “every aspect of the Liberal Democrat manifesto” as considering “the need to be Carbon neutral”. Your manifesto pledges you to achieve a net zero carbon emissions target by 2045. In light of a UN report yesterday that showed, despite the Paris accords, average yearly temperature increases of 1.5°C over the last decade. Is the 2045 target too little, too late?

LA: I think it is on board with government targets and I appreciate that we need immediate action. The targets that we set out in our manifesto are aiming at the massive dramatic reduction in carbon emissions by 2030. But what we are trying to do is have a sense of pragmatism and a sense of reality about how we do that and how that change is effective. Realistically, what we’re looking at is completely cutting petrol and diesel car sales by 2030. We’re also looking at having an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 as well. So, while I know having a target of 2045 is later than lots of people would like, but we are making sure that it’s not, that we are actually putting a lot of work in ahead of time. So that by the time we get there, it is easy to say that we are, absolutely, carbon neutral. So, I think we need to make sure that people are able to manage this on a personal level, on an industrial level. I was at a NFU hustings last night with lots of people from the agricultural sector, and they were very concerned on the impact some policies could have on their sector, without considering the actual communities that are a part of them.

So, I think if we lost sight of the fact that we have to get people to buy into these carbon saving initiatives, then we might lose the public will to enact this. It’s not just something that can be proscribed by government, it has to be brought into by the public. And that’s something I want to see across the board. I think, actually, the real thing that will actually make a difference is having an impact on the retail sector so that the interface between the public and agriculture is more sustainable and reduces those stresses, so industry can respond to those incentives.

The Boar: There has been a significant rise in both knife crime and hate crime in the local area. How will you tackle this, and how will you work with the police to do so?

LA: Knife crime is one of urgent public health crises in the UK at the moment. It is important that students feel safe both on and off campus. To solve this problem we must treat the causes not just the symptoms.

A Liberal Democrat government would create a £500 million ring-fenced fund for Local Authorities in England to spend on youth services. This would provide young people with positive, safe and healthy opportunities to prevent them being drawn into youth violence and gang-related crime. We would also make local youth services a statutory service, protecting them from future cuts whilst improving funding to education and the police to allow for early intervention and community policing.

BP: On knife crime, you sad it was important to treat the causes of knife crime, not just the symptoms. What symptoms are you referring to, and how should they be treated?

LA: What we’ve got is a lot of potential in our young people to be exploited by criminal gangs, by people who have malign intent and have accessibility through these communities, to the areas that these people live in. Ultimately, what I think we need to have are public services available to intervene so that this accessibility isn’t out there. One of the aspects I concentrate on there is youth services, because ultimately, that is something that has a positive and productive way of dealing with some of the things that cause young people to fall into these circles. We also have things like gang culture associated with things like drug trafficking and drug abuse. That’s where we do need an active police response, and we need to make sure we have investment in those services. But because this is so broad, we need to make sure those services are invested in and available for young people. And obviously, people, as they grow up in and around this culture, there’s somewhere for these people to go that is safe and available. They want to deal with the acute causes before this escalates into a problem for these individuals and helping those individuals should then help society as a whole.

The Boar: In an area densely populated by students, how will you tackle the increasing waiting times at A&E and healthcare centres in the constituency, especially during peak times such as flu season?

LA: We need to alleviate the stresses on GP’s and A&E’s to ensure the capacity is there for those who need acute care. This means investing in wellbeing not just treating ailments.

Along these lines we have to realise the real issue for students is access to world class mental health services. A Liberal Democrat government will invest £11 billion into mental health services such as: child and adolescent mental health care, ensuring healthier teaching environments and awareness in education, and expanding our mental health workforce to be able to match waiting time standards to those in physical health.

This is so important for our existing A&E facilities because we see so many students struggling with their mental health, dealing with these issues at an early stage will help those affected before it gets to the point where someone experiences a mental health emergency. This is what will relieve the pressure on waiting times, and if they do need to go to A&E then we can ensure the NHS has the necessary funding and specialist staff to help them properly at this point.

BP: As you said in your answer, one of the most prominent health issues for students is being able to access world class mental health services. If you are elected as MP, what will you do to increase mental health support services in the local area?

LA: Well, ultimately, it does need investment and that’s across the country. Locally, I think what is really needed is coordination between the trusts that manage healthcare. Generally, wellbeing is something that needs to be considered a lot stronger, and we want to be delivering on that, so that has to be delivered across the board. So, we’re looking at investing in schools and scrapping the SATS system and Ofsted system so that those students and teachers have a healthier environment to work in. That should help educate and promote a healthier environment at a younger age.

We’re then looking at investing more in the NHS, providing more services, acute services, for health, mental health in particular, so it has parity with physical health care. Ultimately, there are some fantastic people working in the NHS in this region, they just don’t have the resources to manage this. They’re very well-meaning and I have personal experience of that. When we’re dealing with the crisis that’s coming about, which is that lots of people are willing and able to talk about mental health in a way they wouldn’t before, I think that’s very good. We haven’t got the number of resources that we need to manage that, so it’s about increasing wellbeing across all sectors, but also making sure there are the resources and availability for people to have care when they need it.

That’s the real issue and that affects students, it affects young people, it affects people across all ages, across all sectors, of our economy and our services. That’s why we need to consider it at every level.

Jonathan Chilvers (Green)

The Boar: How will you work to mitigate the effects of Brexit on the local economy and jobs in the industrial sector in the constituency?

JC: I think that we should have a confirmatory referendum between Mr. Johnson’s deal and an option to Remain. I would campaign to Remain partly because of the impact on the local economy, particularly in areas which reply on international cooperation like cutting edge scientific fields and other R&D particularly in Green technologies. If we do leave the EU we should mitigate this by staying as close to the Single Market as possible, but I don’t think this would be as good a deal as staying in and retaining a say.

Odysseas Digbassanis (for The Boar): Seeing the similarities between your stance on Brexit with regards to a People’s Vote and having the choice between a deal and Remain, how would you differentiate the Green Party’s position on Brexit from other political parties such as Labour, with which a coalition may be a plausible eventuality?

AS: I think there are certain similarities with Labour but the difference is that the Green Party is very clear that we would campaign for a vote to Remain, in a confirmatory vote. Whereas Labour haven’t decided what they’re going to do. I think there is a certain possibility on that particular issue of people voting for a complimentary vote. So I would see that as a prospect, but that would not be a full coalition, that we would be a coming together on that particular issue.

The Boar: What do you think is the biggest problem facing higher education right now and how will you help tackle it for students living within the constituency?

JC: I think there’s 3 main issues:

  1. I’m concerned about the uncertainty that Brexit is causing a lack of investment in the sector.
  2. Cost of living and accommodation for students is an issue. As a councillor I represent part of South Leamington and I’m active in trying to ensure better housing standards in private properties to ensure fairness, safeness and lower bills.
  3. Finally I’d say ensuring that there are good high quality jobs for students to move into. I would work with businesses to improve ongoing training and career progression in a whole range of sectors so that there is a clear route through for graduates so they can reach their full potential and contribute fully to society around them.

OD: For students living in the constituency, that you represent as a councillor, you say that the cost of living in South Leamington is an issue. But as an MP, how would you mitigate rising rent?

JC: It is a big issue to people and what we need is for a government to take action on the enforcement side of rent. At the moment, landlords can get away with pretty much anything they want. You know the the rogue landlords think, “Oh yeah, I can make a mint out of buying houses and then renting it out to students”, and they don’t need to worry about whether the boiler is fixed or if there is a good fire escape or that kind of thing. So if the government was to do better on enforcement and say, “right, we’re really going to be on top of you and give money to councils to do that enforcement”, they need to make a less good proposition for rogue landlords, and so that makes that investment less worthwhile. Cost of living side of things, if landlords are forced to improve the heating systems and the insulation in the houses, again, just enforcing the existing rules, that will lower energy bills over the four seasons. A big problem at the moment, you can look at what energy level rating your house is and a lot of properties score really, really low on these because landlords haven’t bothered to do the basic insulation and put the good heating systems in to keep energy bills down. Rent levels themselves are harder to control, but actually, there’s loads that we could be doing to make sure that fuel bills come down considerably for students.

The Boar: A recent poll by ClientEarth indicated that almost two-thirds of people agreed the climate emergency was the biggest issue facing humankind. How will you ensure that the climate crisis is addressed in the constituency?

JC: How we respond to the climate emergency in the next five years will define our future. It’s bigger than Brexit and we cannot allow the next government to just pay lip service. Time is running out and we must act now. The Green Party has laid out how it would decarbonise the economy through providing emergency-level investment for insulation; replacing gas central heating; safe and enjoyable cycling and walking infrastructure for short journeys; wind, solar and geothermal energy; investment in research and development for green technologies; and a comprehensive range of other measures.

I also sit on Warwickshire’s climate change adaptation group and am pushing for significant investment to prepare us for the impact of climate change, already ‘baked in’, for example, increased flooding, disease and extreme heat events. We must increase our resilience and prepare now.

I’ve seen the impact that the increased Green vote in May have had on other parties – they are now more receptive to our ideas. But they’re still not moving anywhere near fast enough. In summary, if you want to send a message that you want the climate emergency taken seriously, vote Green.

OD: Given that over the past decades, multiple governments have heavily subsidised solar farms through the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) scheme – which has led to decreased competition and less incentive to produce green energy through the subsidies as a side effect – how would you make sure that government subsidies are correctly administered in order to ensure the ‘decarbonisation’ of Britain?

JC: What’s your evidence that it has not worked in the past?

OD: I have some numbers in front of me that say large funds such as Cubico sustainable investments make £1.3 million on the subsidy alone, that also led to a decrease in competition for smaller-scale producers.

JC: My experience of the FIT scheme is that the government’s job is to set fair regulations and incentives to then get businesses to be able to invest. Actually, the government failed to do that. So lots of small businesses did set up working within the frame that the government provided, and then the government pulled the rug from under their feet by changing the rules of the game. We’ve actually ended up going backwards. So the most important thing is the government providing a clear framework for businesses to be able to invest over a period of time, and actually, a Conservative government has been irresponsible in the way that they pulled the rug out from under people’s feet, and yet they continue to invest in the government to continue to put money into fuel subsidies, while also claiming that they’re dealing with the climate crisis. So the government have been very irresponsible in the way that they handled it.

The Boar: There has been a significant rise in both knife crime and hate crime in the local area. How will you tackle this, and how will you work with the police to do so?

JC: Knife Crime and hate crime have been getting worse because since 2010 the Conservatives have cut police numbers by one third and have decimated youth services. The frustrating thing is that we know how to address this. There was extremely successful community partnership working in the early 2000s between police and the community and youth centre with worked with young people to give purpose and relationship in people’s lives and address issues around isolation and gangs and knife crime fell significantly. I’d fight to get that investment back and apply this kind of approach in Warwick & Leamington and nationwide.

OD: You pointed out the need for an increase in funding in order to develop the successful partnership that you outlined. Apart from increasing funding, what would you promote as MP as a way to tackle knife crime in the constituency?

JC: We’ve got evidence that the best practice is when police work with community groups, to address the reasons that people get involved in gangs and knife crimes. This has been very successful working say, in the past, with safe groups, and as I say with youth services, it means the police having the time to sit down with those groups. Also, the police having the funding to be able to invest in services that are working. Over time, that makes a real difference, but the last 10 years seen the police cut, after cut, after cut. We need those extra police officers, but we also need that will to invest in those services.

The Boar: In an area densely populated by students, how will you tackle the increasing waiting times at A&E and healthcare centres in the constituency, especially during peak times such as flu season?

JC: Increased times in A&E are caused by three main issues:

  1. A scandalous lack of investment in GP and other primary care (Particularly mental health services) which is pushing staff out of the profession and causing a downward cycle in care
  2. Outsourced 111 services which are peopled by unqualified staff to save costs who are then overcautious and send people to A&E
  3. A lack of joined up working between health and social care meaning that we’re not preventing accident and illness amongst older people in the community which puts more pressure on A&E.

If we invest in the right places and prevent people needing to go to A&E in the first place we can solve these problems so that the NHS is there for us when we need it.

OD: You pointed out that you saw three main issues: a lack of investment, outsourced services and a lack of joined-up working between health and social care. How would you tackle these issues on a constituency level as MP, apart from advocating for increased funding?

JC: Again, an MP has no control over the local system. They have do it through getting change in the law in Parliament, or supporting government measures. The MP only has certain powers that they can exercise. To me, it’s getting the government to make sure that the financial incentives at the first place travel to our social care. At the moment, the financial incentives are not there to make social care with older people work for the NHS. Providing those financial incentives to the councils and the NHS to work better together, so actually the system works better. Because at the moment, they don’t have the incentive to provide spaces, and it affects all of us whether it’s students or old people. But I just think we’re investing in the wrong places. We need to put the money into walk-in services and GPs and training surgeries, and that in return will relieve the pressure.

Jack Rankin (Conservative)

The Boar: How will you work to mitigate the effects of Brexit on the local economy and jobs in the industrial sector in the constituency?

JR: The Conservatives will protect the economy by getting Brexit done. Businesses and families want certain to invest and get on with their lives. If elected, I will vote for the withdrawal deal so we can all move on. A vote for any other party is a vote for more damaging dither and delay.

The Boar: What do you think is the biggest problem facing higher education right now and how will you help tackle it for students living within the constituency?

JR: I think one of the biggest problems in higher education right now is mental health support for students and staff. We need t he resources to follow recognition of parity of esteem.

The Boar: A recent poll by ClientEarth indicated that almost two-thirds of people agreed the climate emergency was the biggest issue facing humankind. How will you ensure that the climate crisis is addressed in the constituency?

JR: I work in renewable energy and am passionate about green issues. Under the Conservatives, Warwick District Council has declared a climate emergency and will be releasing proposals for net zero carbon emissions in Spring next year.

The Boar: There has been a significant rise in both knife crime and hate crime in the local area. How will you tackle this, and how will you work with the police to do so?

JR: Warwickshire Police under Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe has seen a 20% increase in police numbers this year. With 20,000 more police officers being recruited by the Conservatives over the next 3 years, that number is set to rise further. I attended Warwickshire Pride this year and having spoken to the police there, they are committed to reducing hate crime.

The Boar: In an area densely populated by students, how will you tackle the increasing waiting times at A&E and healthcare centres in the constituency, especially during peak times such as flu season?

JR: South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust is one of the best in the country. They are experts in patient flow – preventing those who don’t need to be in A&E from putting pressure on the department by diverting them to other treatment centres, including pharmacies and GPs. The Conservatives are putting £650m into the NHS per week.

Mr Rankin did not respond in time for a phone interview.

Matt Western (Labour)

The Boar: How will you work to mitigate the effects of Brexit on the local economy and jobs in the industrial sector in the constituency?

MW: I will support, in Parliament, Labour’s position of holding a further public vote. In that vote, I will campaign to remain (as I did in 2016) as this is in the best long-term interests of our community and the country.

This is a position that I declared over a year ago and which I’ve stated repeatedly in Parliament, the media and my newsletters. I’ve voted against a damaging no-deal Brexit at every opportunity; as someone who worked in the automotive industry for over thirty years, I know how vital it is for the automotive industry to remain in the single market and customs union to maintain frictionless trade with Europe.

In Warwick & Leamington, it’s a straight choice between myself and a hard-Brexit, Johnson-supporting Conservative candidate. Allowing them to get in would be a disaster for our community – catastrophic as automotive industry leaders have described it.

Manu Petter (for The Boar): What is the reason you are categorically pro-Remain when the current deal would still be subject to renegotiations before a second vote?

MW: Because the best deal is the deal that we presently have with Europe. And my absolute priorities are to ensure the significant benefits that we have by association of being a member of the European Union. So the Erasmus program, for example, or Euratom, or our range of social security arrangements, European medical agency, but as well as the single market and the Customs Union which has hugely benefited UK. And obviously, specifically with the Erasmus program, the student community and academic network that they enjoy. In such uncertain times, leaving the EU, when you have the threat posed by Trump nationalism, Putin’s Russia and a resurgent China, now is the time that we should be in the safe haven at the EU. And working to reform the EU. And I believe I could bring a lot to the table in that respect. I worked for the European corporate Peugeot, I worked in Paris, and I recognize some of the failings of the EU, but Europe and the UK would be much stronger if we stayed.

The Boar: What do you think is the biggest problem facing higher education right now and how will you help tackle it for students living within the constituency?

MW: Cost of living is undoubtedly the biggest issue. Labour has a raft of policies which will drastically improve the living standards of students.

We will offer under-25s free bus travel, which would save students hundreds of pounds a year who use the bus to travel into university. I personally intervened a couple of years ago to ensure that Stagecoach reversed their decision to charge students the cost of a full travelcard to replace a lost one – and instead charge a small admin fee.

I also support Labour’s policies to cap rents to ensure students and others aren’t putting absurd amounts of money straight into the pockets of private landlords. Everyone over the age of 16 will also receive a real Living Wage of £10 per hour so part-time jobs will pay properly, rather than the £6.15 the 18-20 year olds currently receive.

There are of course other huge issues for students including tuition fees, which Labour will scrap, and mental health – which is why we would invest an additional £1.6 billion a year in mental health services.

MP: Since you want to abolish tuition fees, how would you finance universities? Would the budget come out of the general tax revenue?

MW: Yes, I think I was lucky enough to get into university back in the early 80s. And I don’t believe that my parents would have been able to afford for me to go to university. My dad was a primary head teacher, my mom was a part-time administrator. So we didn’t have much income in our household and I was the third child. I don’t think I would have been able to go to university. Fortunately, I was and I got a maintenance grant and I want the same opportunities afforded to this generation, as I was lucky enough to enjoy them all those years ago. The support for it would come out of general taxation, out of a corporation tax and out of tax on the higher income bracket, a higher income bracket, the top 5%. But also, there are significant opportunities when you look at the investments being made, say, in property by overseas investors. And I think we need to be looking at opportunities with taxing those as well as the taxation on dividends and – like the Robin Hood tax – on financial transactions. These would be small fractions paid by each transaction, but would actually make a significant contribution to general tax. Of course, on corporation taxes, you will understand we’ve seen our tax rates for the corporates go from 30% now down to 18%, one of the lowest levels. I think we’re lower than the US, and France and Germany are both about 29 and 31%.

If we want to pay for services, if we want to pay for the next generation’s education, then we have to raise tax revenues. I don’t mean by raise, necessarily increase, but what I mean is actually fair taxation that delivers social justice and opportunity.

MP: Where do you think the University should draw the line on the issue of hate speech and free speech, for example, in terms of allowing external speakers on campus?

MW: Well, of course, we’re a democracy and this is something that is entirely down to the University to decide what it feels is appropriate, and I respect the independence of the universities and campuses on what that should be. I don’t think it’s actually for politicians to be involved with. I, of course, abhor hate speech and it makes me very uncomfortable.

I would prefer that universities do not allow that onto campus. But other than speaking out against it, it is determined by the University what is hate speech and what is not.

The Boar: A recent poll by ClientEarth indicated that almost two-thirds of people agreed the climate emergency was the biggest issue facing humankind. How will you ensure that the climate crisis is addressed in the constituency?

MW: I agree that the climate emergency is the biggest global issue we face. I am personally committed to the issue and have shown leadership on this – I voted for Parliament to declare a climate emergency and co-signed the Plastics Pollution Bill.

Labour are the only party offering urgent solutions to tackle the climate emergency. We are pledging £250 billion to decarbonise as much as the economy as possible before 2030. We would build 37 new offshore wind farms, ban fracking and legislate to ensure all new homes are zero carbon within three years.

Our programme will create one million green jobs, including 320,000 new climate apprentices. This would hugely boost our production of electric vehicles in the region, as well as upgrading 64,160 homes in our local area which itself would create 1045 jobs.

MP: Since your campaign runs on the climate emergency as the biggest issue we face, what can you do and have you done to improve transport in the surrounding area of the University of Warwick, especially for students?

MW: Several things, actually. There are many things I’ve done on climate, the climate emergency, even when I was a county councillor. So, I called for the Warwickshire pension fund to be addressed, but let me come to that in a second. The first issue is that we need to change is the bus fleet that is being operated by Stagecoach. When they changed their depot two years ago, I asked them if they were going to put a hydrogen tank, a hydrogen cell into the new depot. And they said they weren’t, and I said “why, you should be future proofing your depot”, and they said we can’t afford to do it. Now, this is the short termism I’m afraid that’s been going on under the Conservative government and the coalition government. And we should be ensuring that bus operators are future-proofing their facilities, but also encouraging the switch over to hybrid and to hydrogen units and electric. Now, that hasn’t been happening. You just have to witness the terrible air quality at the bottom of town, which is where I live. To know that, you know, if you’re a student sitting or standing by the bus stop outside the Victoria Terrace and the Parish Church, just how poor the air quality is, and it’s one of the worst air qualities in the whole UK. I’ve spoken out about that and I want to see the fleets changed.

I want to see a bus interchange at Leamington Spa train station. I want to see more students going by train into the University campus. So I’ve met with ministers to call on them to urgently spend investment into a new station for the Warwick University campus, and to prioritise that ahead of HS2.

HS2, personally, I would like to see the backup. I think it’s a shocking waste of money that does not address the principal transport issues that we have in the community.

The second thing is, I called for the Kenilworth to Leamington cycle route to be agreed, to be approved, so I spoke about that in Parliament and I’m pleased to see that Warwickshire County Council, after 20 years, have actually got round to that. And by the way, I cycle around the constituency a great deal. I was even described by The Sun on Sunday as a cycling fanatic.

The Boar: There has been a significant rise in both knife crime and hate crime in the local area. How will you tackle this, and how will you work with the police to do so?

MW: We’ve had two incidents of knife crime in the constituency in recent months. I’ve raised this issue in Parliament, highlighting damaging police cuts – in Warwickshire we’ve lost 172 police officers. I also noted the Boar’s recent article about the increase in hate crime in Leamington. This is shocking and should have no place in our constituency.

I’m happy to help with the police locally wherever I can, but the main thing is that we get a Government who is committed to reversing the police cuts and taking a public health approach to violence by investing in things like youth centres. Over 750 have been lost since 2012 and Labour have pledged to invest £1 billion into rebuilding our youth centres to help prevent young people getting caught up in gang violence.

We will also commission an independent review into the threat of far-right extremism to begin to tackle incidents of hate crime in our community.

The Boar: In an area densely populated by students, how will you tackle the increasing waiting times at A&E and healthcare centres in the constituency, especially during peak times such as flu season?

MW: Due to years of Conservative and Lib Dem cuts, our NHS is in crisis. A&E waiting times are now the worst on record. Only Labour will stand up for the NHS.

Locally, I have opposed the loss of mental health inpatient services at our local mental health hospital.

We have pledged to end the NHS crisis with a £40bn healthcare funding boost to provide safe quality care, recruit the thousands of staff needed, rebuild crumbling facilities and provide modern state of the art equipment.

This is an annual average 4.3% funding increase for health spending over the next four years – compared to the average 1.1% increases under the Coalition Government and 2.3% increases under this Conservative Government.

MP: What can be done about the mental health crisis in cooperation with universities, apart from putting more money into NHS?

MW: Well, I think there are several things that could be done. Firstly, of course we need more resource generally across the NHS, but specifically at mental health, and mental health is very much in poor relation on the expenditure in our NHS.

And we see that with a complex in terms of community services, even at Warwick and Leamington, where there are significant issues actually, relative to other parts of Warwickshire, but also to the rest of the country. So high incidents of mental health issues being recorded and a relatively high figure for the suicide rate, which is extremely concerning.

Now, I believe that services really need to be in neighbourhood, in community. And my concern is that these are becoming increasingly distant from the people who require them in the way that we have GP surgeries – very much local. I think that we need to ensure that these services are as available really, as a GP surgery is in our communities.

With respect to the University, I think there should be more done in cooperation with the NHS on campus. I think that the recognition of issues amongst the student community needs to be understood by the teaching academic staff and elsewhere, so people are much more attuned to recognise these issues. And then, I think there needs to be an anonymous and robust way of being able to register this within the University, so that people can get fast-tracked into the NHS whilst they’re in the student community on campus or elsewhere. I think the difficulty so often is that students, because they’re away from home, feel more alienated from the safety net of the NHS when they’re living away. We need to make it easier and to ensure our registration I think, I’m not sure if that does happen.

Written answers from the candidates are presented as they were given to The Boar. Interviews with candidates for Coventry North East and North West, Coventry South as well as Kenilworth and Southam are linked accordingly. You can view all of The Boar‘s interviews with local candidates here.

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