Andrew Michael, UKIP
On behalf of Hastings Online Times, Sean O’Shea (SOS) asks parliamentary candidates about their image of the ‘good society’, how it might be organised and financed, and what they would do to address some of the specific problems affecting the people of Hastings and Rye. Our thanks to all of the candidates for participating in this exercise.
SOS: Some people have become cynical about the way our society is organised, e.g. finance, education, work, politics, the tax system and legal system, to mention just a few sectors. Furthermore, in the midst of growing inequality many of our core institutions are now perceived as serving a privileged elite, and neglecting or exploiting ordinary people. What is your view on this issue and what might you do to address the problem?
Andrew Michael The question implies the existence of an establishment and a political class that seeks to exclude ordinary people from access to the corridors of power. I believe that this situation exists and UKIP believe that the three established parties have closed ranks to create a Lib-Lab-Con where the promotion of European Union membership and mass immigration does not meet the needs of the British people. The UK’s withdrawal from the EU, and therefore our ability to control immigration with a points-based visa system, would restore the country’s national sovereignty and enhance the economic well-being of the populace. Big business and the political class may benefit from EU membership, but small businesses and ordinary people do not benefit. In fact, with all issues considered (not just fees to the EU), the total cost to the UK is 7% of GDP. This is a huge loss of resources that could be spent on the British people. There is indeed a privileged elite that run the country, largely from Oxbridge and the top public schools. Our core institutions are dominated by a political and financial elite that cares little for the common people. The bankers are a prime case where they should be far more accountable for their actions. The ‘ruling class’ must be challenged via the political and educational system so that people with working class backgrounds are able to access positions of authority and take decisions in favour of ordinary decent folk.
What is your vision of the ‘good society’ and how might such a society be organised and financed?
The ‘good society’ is one founded on the importance of community, starting with neighbourhood, and moving upwards, through regionalism to the nation-state. At each level the prime consideration is for the members to look after each other, so the less fortunate are always afforded a safety net. Social change through government policy should always improve the welfare of those in need before benefiting other groups. This principle should extend all the way to the global level, in the manner of observing international law through the democratic operation of the United Nations. Such a society should be organised democratically at all levels, and financed by minimal but fair taxation, that carefully balances the need for economic growth with the welfare concerns of the most needy. The ‘good society’ should also reward individual responsibility, initiative and hard work.
How does the tough regime of the DWP (Dept. for Work and Pensions) and their partners ATOS (a French multinational IT services company), and now MAXIMUS (a multinational company who run healthcare programmes in the US, Australia and Saudi Arabia), fit into the concept of a ‘good society’?
The government should look very carefully at the process and outcome of sub-contracting decision-making to outside bodies. The ‘good society’ requires that decisions affecting the most needy should be democratic, fair and delivered by one’s peers, whilst retaining the principle of individual and familial responsibility. I have personally come across cases of disability assessment which certainly do not appear to be fair and decent outcomes, and which I would challenge on behalf of the constituents. We need to bring this decision-making back into British and possibly local frameworks.
What do you consider to be some of the specific problems and challenges affecting the daily lives of people in Hastings & Rye and what would your party do to address them?
AM: The people of Hastings and Rye face the daily problems of a shortage of GPs, a shortage of affordable housing, an unemployment rate that’s double that of the rest of the south-east and an unacceptable level of crime. This constituency has 20 wards, eight of which are officially designated as deprived, and many of the problems stem from this situation. There is central government regeneration funding available, but although Hastings is in the top 6% of deprived L.A.s in England, the town is simply not getting its fair share of funding. Far greater resources should be put into funding for the top 10% most deprived towns, with Hastings qualifying as a worthy prospective recipient. UKIP have pledged to increase spending on the NHS by £3 billion a year with this money going to fund significantly more doctors, hospital nurses, and community nurses. This constituency should receive its fair share of new NHS funding, especially as it is receiving services that are being transferred from Eastbourne, and the Conquest Hospital needs a better funded A & E department. The shortage of affordable housing is a pressing problem, so we should look at the feasibility of a licence payable by private landlords as a method of funding greater social housing. The local unemployment rate could be reduced by a proper youth apprenticeship scheme that equips young people with the practical skills needed in the workplace. Also, controlling immigration would give local people a better chance of finding employment in an increasingly competitive labour market. Policing the streets of Hastings and reducing anti-social behaviour should be given a greater priority. Funding is available for these improvements if we re-prioritise our policies to focus on national needs rather than international grandiose schemes. Hastings is a classic case of where ‘Charity should begin at Home’!
Hastings is known for its atmospheric pubs and vibrant music scene, yet pub landlords and musicians – not to mention the fishermen – are struggling to make a living, pubs in the UK are closing at a rate of 31 a week (Campaign for Real Ale, CAMRA, 2014) and it’s likely that there will be few left if the decline continues. How would you address this issue?
UKIP is the party of small business, and pubs are an integral part of British culture. I would remove smaller privately-owned pubs from the need to pay business rates and raise the VAT threshold, making them viable businesses again. UKIP also want to allow ventilated smoking rooms in pubs, in addition to a proper non-smoking area. It is also time that the relentless increases in beer duty were somewhat reversed. The local fishermen have been getting a bad deal for a generation. My fisherman friend can only work for two days a month until he has reached his quota, so how can he properly support his family? By coming out of the EU and scrapping the Common Fisheries Policy, our small-scale fishermen would be freed from the need to adhere to pernicious quotas, thus having viable livelihoods again. UKIP would also scrap the raft of EU regulations that small businesses find increasingly burdensome. These measures would revitalise small businesses in Hastings and Rye.
Why do you think people should vote for you personally?
I am East Sussex born and bred, and passionate about Hastings and Rye. I’m a loyal, trustworthy and hard-working guy who doesn’t let people down. I attend church in St Leonards. I am a former hotelier with extensive business experience. I am state educated and I have a Master’s Degree from the London School of Economics. As the son of immigrant parents, I can show that UKIP is pro-immigration that is controlled, responsible and fair. I left the award-winning TV show Gogglebox because I wanted to stand up for what I believed in politics. I promise the people of Hastings, Rye, and the villages in this constituency, that I will work tirelessly for their interests at all times. So I ask you to ‘Believe in Britain, Believe in Me’ and vote UKIP!
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