Sandra Gidley is the Lib Dem MP for Romsey and Southampton North. After her debate at the Uni I managed to catch up with her and ask her a few question about the Lib Dem policies and the recent bout of ‘Cleggmania’ sweeping the nation.
Q. Why do you think Nick Clegg is the right person to run the country?
SD. Nick Clegg is the right person to run the country because he’s the only one with fresh and costed ideas about what’s needed for the country. It’s been the Liberal Democrats who have tried to clean up Parliament, and that has been opposed by the other two parties.
The other two parties want to keep the world the way it is so that they always have a turn in government, but the Liberal Democrats want to change the voting system, so that every bodies vote counts, and this way parties have to work together for the good of the people.
WS. There is quite a cult of the personality surrounding Nick Clegg and to an extent Vince Cable, do you think that the Liberal Democrats are playing a policy of style over substance?
SD. Absolutely not! We’ve always had lots of substance that nobody’s recognised before. We haven’t gone out to manufacture what you saw in any way. What you saw in the first leader’s debate was Nick being Nick. Now anybody who meets Nick is always bowled over by him. He’s very charismatic, people remember meeting him. When he came to Romsey he bowled over everyone who met him. I wasn’t sure that would translate to the television screen, but I think it has, people like what they saw. They see that here is somebody who is genuine, who is straightforward, who tells us as it is, but also most importantly has ideas about how we can do things differently. That’s substance, it just a bonus that you have the style to go with it.
Some of Your Policies have come under more scrutiny-
SD. They’ve always been under scrutiny.
Would you say that you’re now having to rein in some of your policies that are in your manifesto, now you’re in the position that you may form a government?
SD. Absolutely not, why should we, it would be cowardice of the first order to start flip-flopping around now because the Murdoch press prefers a Conservative government and is writing up our polices in an absolutely scandalous way.
So if you read The Mail or The Times or The Sun
WS. That’s a lot of people
SD. But don’t believe everything that you read. The only reasons those papers are having a go at what we stand for and misrepresenting what we stand for is because they realise that there is a threat to their favoured Prime Minister. They want David Cameron in place, and I don’t see why Rupert Murdoch should be able to manipulate to try and swing the voting system.
WS. What is it that the Lib Dems can offer students that no other can?
SD. The Lib Dems are the only ones who have a costed plan to abolish tuition fees over a six year period. I think that that is very important.
WS. Where are you going to find the money for this?
SD. In our manifesto there are a whole range of savings we have identified that will go towards funding out manifesto. We haven’t identified specifically for tuition fees, because we have identified a big basket of savings, if you look at our manifesto, it’s all there, things like taxing profits on banks, scrapping Trident [Britain’s nuclear weapon system], scrapping ID cards, scrapping Biometric Passport, all things we don’t need, because we to attract the right skills if we are to compete on a global scale.
WS. And finally describe your own style of Liberalism in 3 words.
SD. Fairness…Equality…. and Opportunity… had to think about that last one. (Laughs)