Key Things We Learnt From Surge’s Parliamentary Candidate Interview


Over the last couple of weeks Surge have been interviewing candidates running for the three constituencies which students based in Southampton fall into; Southampton Test, Southampton Itchen, and Romsey and Southampton North. Here is a rundown of all the key points made by the major parties, from Labour candidates defending Jeremy Corbyn, Conservative candidates not turning up, and the sole UKIP candidate discussing the New World Order.

Southampton Test

Alan Whitehead – Labour Party candidate and current MP

When asked how confident he was of being returned as the MP for Southampton Test again, he explained “I’ve always been worried that I was going to lose my seat!” – he has a relatively small majority at the moment so that’s not entirely surprising. He defended his record as an MP and argued during his time in office he has helped students wherever possible, having formerly been Union President at the University. On support for Jeremy Corbyn on the doorstep, he argued support has been “about neutral” – some love he’s a different kind of politician, others say they don’t see him as PM, although he refused to blame the Labour Leader if he failed to get reelected, arguing “if I lose the election it will be about circumstances in this particular constituency”.

To listen to the interview, click here.

Paul Holmes – Conservative candidate (no interview)

Paul was scheduled to come in for an interview on Tuesday 30th May, but pulled out the night before due to “another meeting”. Rescheduling wasn’t possible due to an “exceptionally busy” diary, and he instead spent his day with Conservative Party Chairman Patrick McLoughlin, according to Twitter.

Thomas Gravatt – Liberal Democrat candidate

Tom’s a student at the University, but argued “it’s important to have young representatives in parliament”. He seems to be enjoying the campaign, but admitted there was one strange occasion: “I got stalked a little bit on Gordon Avenue by a conspiracy theorist… who wouldn’t leave me alone for about half an hour. I called it a day after that!”

He denied the Lib Dem campaign was Brexit orientated, and argued a second referendum would be about the deal offered. He spoke about NHS funding, and admitted there was still a trust issue amongst students due to tuition fees but said he didn’t regret the 5 years the party spent in coalition with the Tories.

To listen to the interview, click here.

“I got stalked a little bit on Gordon Avenue by a conspiracy theorist… who wouldn’t leave me alone for about half an hour. I called it a day after that!”

Southampton Itchen

Royston Smith – Conservative candidate and current MP (no interview)

Despite repeated emails, there was no adequate response from either Royston Smith or his office. The one reply Surge did receive said “Unfortunately I am not available on Thursday due to prior commitments.”. There had been no mention of an interview on any Thursday.

Simon Letts – Labour Party candidate

Simon is currently leader of Southampton City council and believes it was “perfectly possible” for Labour to overturn the small majority held by the Tories in Southampton Itchen, but admitted it would be an “uphill task” for Labour to win the election. He argued the tuition fees policy proposed by Labour would be funded by an increase in corporation tax, and said universities and Higher Education institutions are at risk of suffering after Brexit, stating “this university depends a lot on the research and collaboration it does with other European Universities”.

To listen to the interview, click here.

Eleanor Bell – Liberal Democrat Candidate

When Eleanor was asked if she can improve on her percentage of the vote this time around she said she “hopes so”, describing the 2015 election as “a low point in our fortunes”. She criticised David Cameron over the EU referendum, claiming “he shouldn’t have done it, he didn’t need to do it”. When pressed on tuition fees she admitted she “understands entirely those who are angry about it”, but highlighted “there are more young people in University than before”. On enfranchising 16 and 17 year-olds, she also admitted she “didn’t used to be convinced”, but the Scottish referendum convinced her.

To listen to the interview, click here.

Rosie Pearce – Green Party candidate

As a recent graduate of the University, Rosie explained “young people ought to have a voice”, and signalled out climate change as a major issue, saying “society will be judged on how we responded to climate change”. She highlighted the Green Party were the only party who have always held a no tuition fees stance, and argued rent controls could benefit students who live in under-par housing. On the party’s radical proposals to changing the working week and introduce a Universal Basic Income, she questioned whether “we work to live or live to work”.

To listen to the interview, click here.

“Young people ought to have a voice.”

Kim Rose – UKIP candidate

Kim openly admitted he was expected to be mocked for some of his views, which included arguing “there’s no difference between the Tories, the New Labour and the Liberal Democrats – no difference at all. They’re all establishment parties, all parties that are controlled by the New World Order, Bilderberg Group and the EU”. He didn’t rate his chances in the upcoming election, describing it as “a bloodbath”, and when it came to Theresa May he wasn’t equally optimistic: “How can you actually believe a word that woman says”. He did however rebel against his party’s stance on banning the burqa, but insisted through the education system, including universities, we have been “absolutely brainwashed by the EU”. He also said David Cameron tried to fix the referendum and incorrectly quoted Ghandi (“first they ignore us, then they hate us and then they fear us”), thinking it was Nelson Mandela.

To listen to the interview, click here.

Romsey and Southampton North

Ian Callaghan – Green Party candidate

Ian said funding the NHS and reversing welfare cuts are a priority, and also mentioned the Green Party “are the only party that’s never changed our mind on tuition fees”, mentioning they would write off existing debt too. He said not fielding a candidate in Test seemed “the responsible thing to do”, noting Alan Whitehead is “as green an MP as you can get whilst still being Red”.

He also spoke at length about Brexit and the effects this will have, especially on the city of Southampton.

To listen to the interview, click here.

Caroline Nokes – Conservative candidate

The only Conservative candidate to be interviewed, she stressed the need to protect those from EU member states currently working here, despite voting against protecting their rights in Parliament. She mentioned the pride in the work she’s completed on body image, saying “if my time in parliament ends on the 8th June then i will look back on that and think ‘you know that’s something that I did that was a force for good’”. She admitted to being “not particularly proud of” voting against gay marriage, but dodged an answer on whether she fancied one of the top jobs stressing “as long as I’m continuing to represent the people of Romsey and Southampton North to the best of my ability then I am content”

To listen to the interview, click here.

Darren Paffey – Labour Party candidate

A lecturer at the University, Darren said despite finishing third in 2015, he argued “anything is possible”, in hope that he wins. He also believed Labour can still win, and said his experience as a councillor has taught him to listen – instead of waiting for people to come to him, he goes out to the people to knock on their doors every Saturday morning to talk to them. On the issue of social care he recognised there was a problem but one which requires more than “throwing money at it”, and similar to Alan Whitehead, he admitted support for Jeremy was mixed, “some love him, some have a problem with him”.

To listen to the interview, click here.

“There’s no difference between the Tories, the New Labour and the Liberal Democrats – no difference at all. They’re all establishment parties, all parties that are controlled by the New World Order, Bilderberg Group and the EU.”

Catherine Royce – Liberal Democrat candidate

Catherine is “hoping to make significant gains and maybe even take the seat”, and denied it is undemocratic to have a second referendum on the EU. On tuition fees she said “we regret not being able to abolish tuition fees whilst we were in government”, and admitted “I think we were naive in government, I think we didn’t see the ‘Nasty Party’ coming for us”. She defended the legalisation of cannabis as a doctor, saying “medical evidence shows that it’s harmless”, and money can be raised through taxing it.

To listen to the interview, click here.


Station Manager at Surge Radio and occasional political ramblings at the Wessex Scene, with the odd music review for The Edge and the Independent. Once worked as a giant penguin on an ice rink.

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