In the run up to the 2015 General Election, Wessex Scene are interviewing the candidates running in all three Southampton Constituencies. Here, I interview Conservative’s candidate for Southampton Test, Jeremy Moulton.
Jeremy Moulton: I feel that it is my responsibility to simply be a really good constituency MP. Southampton is my hometown; I grew up here, was educated here and still live here. It’s really important that an MP should stick by his constituents and do a generally good job at representing them at Westminster.
JN: What can you offer to students?
JM: As a Conservative, I think that it’s really important to keep up the good work of the last five years. Since the Conservative Party took office, the number of University places has gone up and because of this there is generally more money in higher education to provide services to Students. Really, for Students what I can offer is a continuation of the good employment prospects created under a Conservative Government (we’ve created 2 million more jobs), and on the whole better chances for getting ahead and into employment in graduate life.
JN: You’ve had involvement in academies in Southampton, given this, what is your stance on fee paying education; both school and higher?
JM: Well, on fee paying schools I think that it’s important that people should be able to exercise their democratic right to freedom and choice. There’s also the fact that if private school children all required a place in a state school the system would not be able to handle it, it would add millions to the education budget and ultimately probably result in higher taxes. If a family is able to send their child to a fee paying school I see no reason why anyone should resent them for it – we live in a free society after all.
On University fees it’s undeniable that the Government were faced with tough decisions. But I feel that on the whole University fees as they stand are fair and serve to encourage students to take responsibility for their education should they wish. Apart from the difficulty of charging overseas students, tuition fees at present are for all intents and purposes a graduate tax, just due in a slightly different manner. The Conservative Party takes the stance that a focus on early years investment is important, so funds must be raised somewhere!
JN: Given the concerns expressed by business leaders on the Labour Party’s competence with the economy, and Southampton being a relatively safe Labour area, how would you go about encouraging the growth of business big and small in Southampton?
JM: First and foremost, on a local level we need to stop taxing the night-time economy in Southampton with excessive evening parking charges. They have a real negative affect on the Pub and Restaurant trade and really deter people from making the most of what our City has to offer.
On a slightly larger scale, Southampton has real potential to be a top regional economic hub; the prospects for business are very good, we just need to ensure that infrastructure can keep up with business development – just take a look at the lorries queuing on the M271 and you’ll see what I mean. Also, Southampton is a City with many social challenges – there’s a lot of poverty in the City, business investment and job creation can only serve to improve this. It would be terrible if Southampton were to lose out on investment just because its infrastructure cannot keep up with demand. Talking of infrastructure, Southampton is only an hour and a half away from central London, if you’ve tried get a commuter train into London from Southampton during rush hour you’ll know how difficult it is – it’s like sardines in a can! The Conservative party have got plans for real capital investment, and I want to ensure that Southampton gets a slice of that pie.
JN: The Conservative Party has vowed to run a budget surplus by 2018, how feasible do you feel this is?
JM: In short, totally feasible and sensible. Granted this Parliament hasn’t met all of its economic aims fully, but there are lots of variables that are simply out of Government control – the affect of the crisis in Europe for example has had an unprecedented affect on the UK’s economy. No household would be able to spend more than they earn for a particularly long time, people aim to run a personal surplus, so why should the state be expected to behave any differently?
JN: David Cameron has pledged an in/out EU referendum for the next Parliament, do you feel it’s wise to trust a potentially apathetic electorate with such a complex economic decision?
JM: Absolutely yes. The last time the public were consulted on Europe was in the ‘70’s, when much of our population wasn’t even alive, let alone voting. It’s our democratic right to have a say no matter what the outcome. If the Scottish can hold a referendum on independence and get such a high turnout I see no reason why the electorate cannot be informed of the importance of an EU referendum and have their say – no matter what the result it’s good for democracy in this country.
A full list of all the candidates running in Southampton and Winchester can be found here.