Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

Jake Bowers, Green Party

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.

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?


Jake Bowers I couldn’t agree more with that analysis. It’s very clear that our institutions of power, once the envy of the world, are tired, corrupt and in drastic need of renewal. Politics has become a career whereby the privileged hobnob with corporate lobbyists to pursue policies that favour the richest 1% of our society while the remaining 99% are locked out.

For me reform has to start at the top and go all the way, our monarchy is an offensive symbol of deeply entrenched inequality that I would like to see abolished, no matter how nice the Queen may personally be. The House of Lords needs to be replaced with a second directly elected chamber. Proportional representation needs to be legislated for so that those who do not back the winners in our out-dated electoral system can still have their views represented. We should also look at state funding of political parties so that rich individuals cannot adversely affect government policy.

But it’s not just the formally powerful institutions that should be reformed – the media should too. We need to have far tighter rules against concentration of media ownership so people like Rupert Murdoch cannot twist and dominate the news agenda. We also need to make sure the media is properly regulated by the principles established by the Leveson enquiry.

What is your vision of the ‘good society’ and how might such a society be organised and financed?

A good society is one that balances equality for all with opportunity for all. This requires a socially progressive state to regulate the market and the actions of individuals so that human rights and environmental sustainability are the benchmarks by which we judge our quality of life, rather than mere Gross Domestic Product. Green politics put the health of our biosphere and our personal wellbeing above the right of companies or individuals to amass great wealth. Countries in Europe that have gone a long way to creating such a balance, such as Denmark, Sweden or Iceland, are proven to have much happier, healthier people. They have high taxes that create equality for their populations and strong welfare states. I’ve lived in Sweden and think we can learn a lot from it. I’m politically socialist but economically capitalist as a small business owner, and have always been inspired by countries that can blend the ability to create wealth with the ability to redistribute it.

How is 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 runs healthcare programmes in the US, UK, Australia and Saudi Arabia) reconcilable with any concept of a ‘good society’?

In short, it isn’t. Declaring war on the poor is one of the nastiest legacies of this coalition government. The bedroom tax, benefit sanctions and forcing people to subsidise big business through cheap labour are all things that a Green MP would dedicate themselves to abolishing.

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?

We would tackle bad housing by building many more new council houses so that people weren’t dependent on slum landlords.

We would tackle bad employment by increasing the minimum wage to a living wage of £10 an hour.

We would remove any private involvement in public sector areas such as the NHS and education and renationalise the railways.

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?

Personally I’d like to see our pubs freed of the disparately high tariffs on serving alcohol when compared to the prices in supermarkets. They are a British institution that needs protecting. Those that are independently run and offer paid employment to live music acts should be given a special status in tax law, much in the way private schools currently are.

Why do you think people should vote for you personally?

I’m a local self-employed man with three kids and wife that works in the public sector and not a career politician. I have experienced firsthand how hard it is to make a living in Hastings and seen how the decline of our NHS and academisation of our schools has had a massive impact on my family. They shouldn’t just vote for me personally but vote for the policies that will create a truly fairer society. Hastings is a funky irreverent town that needs a radical MP that will champion its real needs without fear or favour to big business or other special interest groups. I believe only a Green MP can do that.


Posted 16:00 Wednesday, Apr 1, 2015 In: Election 2015


Please read our comment guidelines before posting on HOT

  1. Nicola Waring

    Hastings Borough Council Annual Plan 2007/2008, 22nd February 2007, committed to: “Explore the new European standards for bathing water in partnership with the Environment Agency and water authorities.”

    The Sunday Times, 8th May 2011, quotes Kevin Boorman, head of tourism at Hastings Borough Council, saying: “The worst case scenario is that if the beach quality does not improve, we will have to put up signs telling people they should not bathe.” Laurence Bell, White Rock Hotel, said: “I’d be horrified to see warning signs.”

    In August 2011, Government analysis found that 51 beaches in England and Wales are projected to fail new water quality standards to be introduced in 2015. Many are blighted by raw sewage from storm overflows and other pollutants. Hastings and Bexhill-on-Sea are on the list. In a follow-up article, on 19th August 2012, Marine Conservation Society said: “We have got to get to grips with this problem, if we don’t it could be the death knell for some resorts”.

    Hastings & St Leonards Observer reported that in March 2012 the Seaside Road storm water tank had become septic and ‘waste material is discharged into the sea’. A surfer saw ‘the sea was black with pollution and the beach littered with waste’. Southern Water hoped to ‘resolve concerns’ and ’discussions are underway’.

    On 7th September 2012 Cllr Chowney wrote in the Observer: “The current issue with sea water quality is caused not by quality deteriorating, but by the standards changing. There is no prospect of beaches being closed.” And: “Poor sea water quality is of concern, but it’s an enforcement problem rather than a planning problem”. He told us that toilets have been fitted in houses and plumbed into surface water drains instead of sewers, admitting that householders ‘may not even know that their toilet is plumbed illegally’.

    Sea water quality has not improved. The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) is the respected source of information about sea water quality around Britain’s coasts. In March 2013, Rachel Wyatt, coast pollution officer for the MCS, said: “The St Leonards rating is downgraded because of a higher level of bacteria.”

    All candidates for Member of Parliament for Hastings and Rye reckon they have green credentials, none is tackling the deteriorating condition of our sea water quality. East Sussex In Figures, Dataset: Bathing Water Quality By Selected Beaches, uses measure parameters: 1=best, 5=fail. Across 2003-2012 Hastings ranks 4, eight times out of ten.

    The Sunday Times 16th March 2014, under the heading ‘Kiss me quick before 45 top beaches close‘, reports Hastings’ council leaders ‘considering abandoning their designated bathing beach and creating another, further along the shoreline‘. Cllr Birch, the council leader, says: “We are considering moving the bathing area to a new location”.

    Comment by Nicola Waring — Sunday, Apr 12, 2015 @ 10:10

  2. John Faulkner

    Remember that Nick Perry the Lib Dem is also a local person who works locally. He has actively supported environmental issues consistently over the recent years. Voting for him is a vote for the environment combined with a sustainable economic policy.

    Comment by John Faulkner — Thursday, Apr 9, 2015 @ 09:27

  3. Kitaj

    More than anything else I want to vote for a local person who understands the needs of our town, not some TV so-called celeb, not some ex-banker career politician flown in from anywhere. I have yet to decide where my vote goes but someone who lives and works in Hastings and understands our town’s needs is a priority for me.

    Comment by Kitaj — Thursday, Apr 9, 2015 @ 02:24

  4. DAR

    I like some Green policies, but your “open door” policy on immigration just doesn’t square with wanting to protect green spaces, ancient woodland etc. as it is annual net migration figures of a quarter of a million plus (about half the entire population of East Sussex, folks!) that is mainly fuelling housing demand, particularly in areas like our own where people are moving out of London to surrounding counties whilst immigrants move into the capital (because there will be a kindred community already there). Some might say that high London house prices are the reason for this phenomenon, but this has occurred mostly over the last 25 years – which exactly correlates with ever-increasing net migration figures over that period. That’s when housing demand in London started to vastly outweigh supply, thereby pushing up prices. The BHLR and its associated housing and business developments are an example of this analysis, and the proposal to wipe out Harrow Lane Playing Fields to build a housing estate there is another. Sorry, but I can’t vote Green until this issued is faced up to by the party.

    Comment by DAR — Thursday, Apr 2, 2015 @ 17:10

  5. Leanne Smith

    Very well said Jake. Our town really does need a person like yourself to step in and make some very import changes for the better of everyone. I will certainly be backing you and the the Green Party all the way. Keep up all your hard work and dedication as It will have such a positive benefit to our town.

    Comment by Leanne Smith — Thursday, Apr 2, 2015 @ 12:54

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