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Where Do I Stand On…?

1) HS2  2) the NHS 3) The economy and the cost of living

1) HS2

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
http://www.libdems.org.uk/help_us_stamp_out_mental_health_stigma

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.

In October 2014, Simon Stevens, the Chief Executive of NHS England, made it clear how responding to these challenges is a very complex task that faces all governments and all societies. It requires solutions not constrained or imposed by political dogma.   From its very birth the NHS has had a high degree of private sector involvement and latterly an increasing  
involvement from the not-for-profit or voluntary/community sector. Being currently employed as the part-time Director of a grant-giving charity, I am particularly concerned about the impact of any possible changes on the most vulnerable and isolated members of our communities.If elected as your MP in May 2015, I shall work to do all I can to ensure that we have an NHS that we can be both proud of and confident in.

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.