Frequently Asked Questions

I’m traditionally a conservative voter but am considering voting for you to stop brexit. Can you reassure me that this will not hand Boris, or worse Corbyn, a victory. 

As a passionate Remainer, I recognise the dilemmas facing many Remain-sympathetic voters, who have, in the past, voted either Conservative or Labour: Many are struggling with whether to lend the Lib Dems their vote at this particular Election, given their past loyalties. In addition, there is a lot of media coverage of the whole issue of tactical voting

If I may offer you my perspective on your dilemma:
  • If you are very reluctant to put your support behind either Boris or Jeremy, we are clearly at least the third strongest Party in Tatton
  • I cannot conceive of Labour ever actually winning in Tatton - even were some Conservatives to decide to switch over: such a win for Labour would be the equivalent of a political earthquake
  • The only candidate who could unseat Esther McVey would either have been another Independent, or me; as you know, there is no Independent candidate this time
  • I accept that winning this seat as a Liberal Democrat is a huge challenge, but I guess that your choices are: Esther, me, Greens or not voting
  •  I am confident, from all the canvassing and leafleting that I have been doing, that i will benefit from quite a number of Conservatives switching to Lib Dem
  •  It is also very clear, 'from the doorsteps', that possibly 50% of voters are still quite unsure about where they will place their X
  •  All I can say is that a vote for me is extremely unlikely to let James Weinburg in, and just might help me towards unseating Esther
  •  Above all this, I am clear that the biggest possible Lib Dem vote, nationally, will both boost the continuing attempts to prevent any kind of Brexit, and will strengthen the Lib Dem case to be give a 'seat-at-the-table' of key media events in the future.

I am a Tatton resident and have previously voted either Conservative or Liberal Democrat. On Brexit I voted Remain but was unsure myself which way to vote but was swayed by the viewpoint of my children, who it would effect much more than me. I say this just so you know I am not a manic 'Leaver',  but I do strongly question your party policy on actively reversing Brexit?

You can argue that the 2016 question was so vague, but the public voted according to the question asked, so how can a party with the word 'Democrat' in their name turn that majority vote around and still claim to be democratic?  The decision was taken by the public as asked, and it should have been respected by Parliament, which now stands in the lowest opinion of the vast majority of people it is supposed to represent. You say in your letter the next Government 'must respond to those who voted Leave'. What on earth does that mean....probably some more condescending
sound bites and little more.
  

May I first of all say that I am not interested in "condescending soundbites", and agree with you that these are one of the reasons why people think so little of politics right now. On that latter point, then, I am referring to the strong commitment made by Ed Davey, in his Shadow Chancellor speech to the Lib Dem Conference in Bournemouth in September, that his first priority for a Lib Dem Budget would be to begin tackling the economic causes of why many people voted to Leave. I accept, of course, that the vote to Leave wasn't just and economic one, but this, the Party believes, is one place where we need to start. Our manifesto is strong on a fiscally-sensible (re. the IFS judgement) increase in public spending, on much greater devolution to regions and Local Authorities, and on finding an immigration system that the majority are happy with.
Turning to the question of "democracy", I can offer the following for your consideration:
  •  My view of a healthy democracy is that no democratic decision is forever, and can always be challenged, but only by another, legitimate, democratic process - not by executive dictat, military coup, or neglect
  •  Our campaign is to Stop Brexit through democratic means: either this General Election, or a People's Vote
  •  If a Referendum is forever, why did we have one in 2016, when the result in 1975 was clear cut: presumably because people thought that things had changed a lot
  •  Which brings me to my second point: even Boris did not know what was going to be in the Brexit deal he and the EU signed, even the night before the conclusions of the negotiations. So, what were people who voted Leave thinking would be the deal they were backing in 2016; or do you feel that they were giving the Government a completely blank cheque? 
  •  If, as I suspect, most of the current Conservative leadership know that any version of Brexit will harm the country, it is a massive failure of leadership to simply let the 'car crash' happen
  •  No-one, locally (on the doorsteps or at the Hustings) or nationally, has attempted, throughout this Campaign, to argue that, actually, Boris' Brexit would improve the UK: there are only two arguments that are used against the Lib Dem position, namely, the democratic one, and "Let's Get Brexit Done"
  •  Which brings me to my final thought: "Let's Get Brexit Done" is the scandalous deceit at the heart of the Conservative campaign. Voting in a majority Conservative Government would result either in No Deal in 12 months' time, or many further years of uncertainty. It will also propel us towards the disintegration of the UK: Boris has succeeded in achieving the impossible - uniting Unionists in Northern Ireland, and giving oxygen to the advocates of a united Ireland and an independent Scotland.

  What is your chief reason for remaining in Europe and not having any truck with Brexit?

The inspiration and vision for what became the EU came directly out of the catastrophe and carnage of the Second World War, with the determination that a European war should never be allowed to happen again. The EU, and its predecessors, have been the most successful project the world has ever seen in multi-lateral peace and cooperation.

The EU has (and is doing so now) been a bulwark against the rise of extremism – both fascism and communism – and a protector of liberal democracy, human rights, an independent judiciary, and an open, fair society.

In a world increasingly dominated – both economically and politically – by 3 super-powers, the UK has no chance in becoming a major influence again, outside the EU.

The gift of free movement across 28 countries is one that my generation has enormously benefitted from: I do not what my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren to have their life opportunities restricted more than mine.

The EU will remain our most important trading partner: any Brexit deal will disturb and weaken this key trade agreement.

The biggest threat we face is the climate emergency: we can only hope to reduce its impact in Europe by working collectively with the other 27.

Essential, multi-lateral cooperation in tackling international and organised crime will be disrupted by leaving the EU.

European citizenship is a privilege: I object ot anyone taking it away from me and my family.

What is so wrong with the NHS that it needs rebuilding? I have had excellent service from the NHS for many years whenever it was required.

My experience, both professionally and as a patient, is that, in the health and social care system, there are five major deficits:

  1. Of accountability: most people do not know who is running services, how decisions are made, and where to go for redress
  2. Of patient centred-ness: the planning and design of services (e.g. location) are mostly not done with the primary interests being that of the patients/clients
  3. Of funding:modest inputs of finance, spread over many years, will not get close to what is required
  4. Of recruitment:exacerbated by the 2016 referendum, and by Government failures to invest in training, health and social care are almost on their knees through lack of staff
  5. Of co-ordination:despite many experiments in greater integration, within the NHS, and between health and social care, services have become increasingly competitive and disjointed.

That is why I say that the NHS requires nothing short of a “rebuild”, to re-establish its core values and principles.

Are you aware that carbon-neutral nuclear power is the only viable solution to the climate emergency on the scale now required? British engineering skills in this field, manifest half a century ago, should have had much more support from the country's politicians.

At the Lib Dem Conference in September 2013, the Party adopted a new policy, as reported by the BBC:

“Liberal Democrats have voted to support the building of a new generation of nuclear power plants - a policy U-turn which marks an important victory for the Party's leadership.

Party members at the Glasgow conference voted 230 to 183 to support nuclear power in "limited" circumstances.

Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey earlier warned the Party not backing nuclear would be "reckless".

He said he had changed his mind because of climate change.

The motion also backed continued operations at existing nuclear power stations until the end of their working lives.”

 

Just heard on the news you want to legalise cannabis !   Are you serious?

Within what is a 96-page Manifesto, there is the following on cannabis

"The prohibitionist attitude to drug use of both Labour and Conservative Governments over decades has been driven by fear rather than evidence and has failed to tackle the social andmedical problems that misuse of drugs can cause to individuals and their communities. Liberal Democrats will take a different approach, and reform access to cannabis through aregulated cannabis market in UK, with a robust approach to licensing, drawing on emerging evidence on models from the US and Canada. To combat the harm done by drugs, we will:
  • Move the departmental lead on drugs policy to the Department of Health and Social Care, and, crucially, invest in more addiction services and support for drug users
  • Divert people arrested for possession of drugs for personal use into treatment, and imposing civil penalties rather than imprisonment.
  • Help to break the grip of the criminal gangs by introducing a legal, regulated market for cannabis. We will introduce limits on the potency levels and permit cannabis to be sold through licensed outlets to adults over the age of 18.

Our approach will support and encourage more clinical trials of cannabis for medicinal use to establish a clear evidence base. In the meantime, we will allow those who feel that cannabishelps to manage their pain to do so without fear of criminal prosecution."
 
I believe I understand why our continuing position on introducing a regulated cannabis market remains controversial. My own professional experience in both Social Services and Health have left me in no doubt as to the damaging effects of cannabis, especially on young and/or vulnerable people. I have also seen, over my lifetime, no clear evidence that any previous legislative responses have made any significant impact. 

 

What is the main reason you’ve decided to stand in this election?

There are many reasons, including my deep commitment to the role of a local MP in having, as their core responsibility, the serving of the needs and aspirations of all residents and voters across the Constituency. However, at this election, no issue matters more than Brexit. This is because, as we now know, the toxic Brexit nightmare has changed our country beyond recognition, to one that is less tolerant, more divided, less welcoming, and more inward-looking. I am clear that, in Tatton, as elsewhere, Liberal Democrats are fighting for the very soul of our country. Like so many of us, I took for granted the huge advantages in being at the heart of the most successful, and longest-lasting international collaboration in peace and prosperity. I had assumed, until 24th. June 2016, that my children, grandchildren and future generations would continue to benefit from the precious birth-right of European citizenship, freedom of movement, and membership of a strong, liberal democratic ‘club’. I was wrong: these are not being guaranteed, and are at huge risk. I am proud to be representing the only major Party that has consistently stood for EU membership. 

 

Which local priorities would you take forward as our MP?

In my campaigning across the Constituency (canvassing, leafleting and talking with people, from Barnton and Rudheath in the west to Alderley Edge and Wilmslow in the east, and in many parts of Knutsford, Mobberley and Chelford) I have heard local people expressing – in addition to the impact of Brexit, were it to happen, on local businesses, local science and research, and public services - particular concerns about: climate change, public transport, school funding, empty shops, declining high streets, poverty, the rise in neighbourhood crime, and the NHS. I have already taken steps to: better understand and support key local environmental issues (e.g. peat extraction on Lindow Moss, and protecting the Longridge Greenbelt); experience for myself the disastrous state of the Mid-Cheshire railway line; raise the profile of crime in Wilmslow; find out the true facts behind the “winter pressures” crisis in health and social care, which is already upon us; encouraged local action to prevent the cutting of key local bus services; and taken in the depressing state of corporate neglect of some of our old housing estates. These issues would form the essence of my first programme of local action and intervention, as the new MP for Tatton.

 

Which national priorities would you take forward as our MP?

With my Liberal Democrat colleagues, and working with all other Parties and individuals, who are as resolved as we are to Stop Brexit, I would do everything in my power to persuade the country that Leaving the EU, particularly on Boris’ terms, or, even worse on No Deal, would accelerate the decline of this great nation. 

Secondly, and linked to the above, I would seek to ensure that the next Government takes urgent, practical steps to address both the economic and social reasons behind many of the 2016 Leave votes. Alongside these, I would press for the earliest implementation of the Liberal Democrats’ Emergency 10-Year Plan to reign in climate change. In order to begin the huge challenge of re-establishing trust in politics and politicians, I would fight for the introduction of proportional representation for all our elections, and for the workings of Parliament themselves to be radically modernised. However, above all, and on the very day following election, I would set about generating action and concern amongst politicians and leaders alike to immediately tackle the impending health and social care crisis.

 

What is it about your party and/or its manifesto that makes you proud to represent your party? Are there any manifesto pledges or commitments you’d like to see changed (and why?)

I am proud to represent a Party whose constitution reads: “The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no-one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity.” This is where there currently exists the most danger for our country, given the rise of populism, nationalism, protectionism, and intolerance. Sometimes, it is not fashionable to speak up for human rights, to advocate for the most vulnerable, to champion the cause of refugees and asylum seekers, and to challenge narrow-minded attitudes. The Liberal Democrats do, have always done, and will continue to do. I am also proud at our approach to the economy, seeing responsible spending on e.g. public services, infrastructure, life-long learning, and new technology, as essential if we are to give people a brighter future. We are neither complacent about the state of the country, nor unbridled in our ambitions and plans. I am keen that a future Liberal Democrat Government should recognise that, alongside a continuing commitment to HS2, the people of Tatton have to see a transformation in the level of investment in, and management of some local train services.

 

Please tell us a little about yourself. (ie: your background, your experience, your hobbies, your non-political interests)

I was born and brought up in London, and trained in Liverpool as a social worker. My wife, Alison, and I have four children and five grand-children. Some of our family have lived, or are still living and working in Europe. I progressed into management, and became a Director of Social Services in Tameside, which is when we moved, with our family, to Bowdon – in 1993. Later on, I spent three years as a Strategic Director for Coventry City Council, and, then, moved back to work closer to home, with an NHS Chief Executive post in Warrington. In the last thirteen years of my career, I became a specialist in children’s services, working with the NHS at all levels, with local government, and with the voluntary sector, retiring in March 2018. My senior career in public services prevented me from engaging, publicly, in politics, but, in 2015, dismayed by the way the Lib Dems were treated in that election, I decided to become an approved Lib Dem candidate. I fought the 2017 election in Oldham East and Saddleworth, and chaired the Trafford Lib Dems for 18 months until recently. I have a full and endlessly-interesting family life. I love music, sport, the arts, and travel. 

If an attempt were made in Parliament to liberalise it further,would you vote for such a motion,or against it?

On abortion, I am not in favour of a further liberalising of the law. In addition, I thought you would also be interested in the key extract from the Lib Dem Manifesto:

"We believe that everyone has a right to make independent decisions over their reproductive health without interference by the state, and that access to reproductive healthcare is ahuman right. We will:

  • decriminalise abortion across the UK while retaining the existing 24-week limit and legislate foraccess to abortion facilities within Northern Ireland.
  • enforce safe zones around abortion clinics, make intimidation or harassment of abortion serviceusers and staff outside clinics, or on common transport routes to these services, illegal
  • fund abortion clinics to provide their services free of charge to service users regardless of nationalityor residency."
     
What are your views on assisted dying? Would you vote in favour  of removing the legal restrictions against it,or not?
I find this a particularly challenging issue. Overall, I am very cautious, but am prepared to continue to listen to arguments for its use in limited circumstances, and with comprehensive safeguards.
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