1) HS2 2) the NHS 3) The economy and the cost of living
The economic imbalance between London and the South East with the rest of the UK is a longstanding major problem that needs many years of investment in capital projects in our regions, including major cities in the Midlands and the North as well as in areas like Kenilworth and Southam. But HS2 is not the best solution to this issue; too expensive and too late. Overcrowding on trains is also a problem, but mainly in London and the South East. Already we have two reasonable routes northwards and southwards using the Chiltern Railways line or the Coventry line and even with today’s mobile technology the idea of ‘wasted time’ on current trains is a misnomer.
Over and above these arguments, I believe it is the first duty of an MP to represent the needs of his/her constituents. Having visited various parts of the constituency to meet with local residents and to see the damage that building and operating HS2 will cause, I have made it clear that I would have voted and, if elected will continue to vote, against any legislation that sought to pave the way for HS2. This makes me unpopular in certain parts of LibDem HQ, where it is official policy to be in favour of HS2 as currently planned. It worries me not one iota that taking this position on HS2 may be a career-limiting move for me within the LibDem party.
2) the NHS
I fully support an amendment passed at the October 2014 Liberal Democrat Party Conference, in a debate about the NHS, calling for the repeal of any parts of the ‘Health & Social Care Act dealing with competition if they are shown to make NHS services vulnerable to increased privatisation through international agreements on free markets in goods and services’.
I also believe that mental health should be treated as seriously as physical health and I encourage you to support our campaign
As the husband of a part-time NHS employee, as an active member of my local Patient Participation Group and as a member of South Warks Foundation Health Trust, I am well aware of both the great work done by NHS employees and the scale of the challenges that it faces (e.g. an ageing population, increasing levels of obesity and a rising birth rate). Neither I nor my wife has any private health insurance.
3) The economy and the cost of living
The first job of any government is to build the Common Good. Inevitably, the financial implications of doing so have to be taken very seriously. For me there are two important principles for us as individuals, as communities and as a country: a) we have to live within our means and b) we have to work to ensure a fair and reasonable distribution of wealth and income.
In practical terms these principles mean that I’m in favour of
1) continued focus on balancing government income and expenditure and on reducing our national debt.
2) helping the private sector to create even more jobs than the 1 million new jobs it’s provided since 2010
3) investing even more in apprenticeships (2 million created since 2010)
4) investing more in manufacturing (especially in high-tech areas such as the motor industry) so that we’re less reliant on financial services (where I once worked!)
5) tax reforms where Liberal Democrats have led the current government in giving lower income earners a £825 tax cut and stopping tax avoidance by big businesses and high earners, whilst pushing for a Mansion House tax on properties worth £2 million or more and blocking plans to give inheritance tax cuts to the wealthiest, and
6) specific proposals to help families, with free school meals for all infants, and to help pensioners with the ‘triple-lock’ rule that has increased pensions by £800 per year since 2010. .
Of course there’s always more that can be done. Yes we’re not in the mess that we were in 2010 but there’s absolutely no cause for complacency.