In the run up to the 2015 General Election, Wessex Scene are interviewing the candidates running in all three Southampton Constituencies. Here, I interview Trade Union and Socialist Candidate for Southampton Test, Nick Chaffey.
What will be your number one priority if elected?
Our main objective is to oppose all cuts, so we want to stop and even reverse the austerity cuts the Government are implementing. We are also against the privatisation of the NHS and are in full support of the social care act. In fact, we want to reverse privatisation. I have experienced cuts first hand, as in the area where I worked as a youth worker in Southampton, there were 40% cuts. So to summarise, I want to see all cuts stopped and reversed.
What can you offer to students?
Firstly, we do not agree with tuition fees, as we believe access to education should be open to everyone, including mature students. Tuition fees act as an obstacle to education. Secondly, housing is a major problem for students, so we would ensure rent is capped both in halls and in private rental properties, making it affordable for everyone. Thirdly, I am aware that graduates are not being employed in their subject fields, which is frustrating for the individual. It is therefore important to invest in new technologies and public services so that graduates can use their skills to the full. I also believe that all courses are important. I dislike the view that some courses are inferior to others. I don’t think these so-called inferior courses should be dropped, as they can all be useful in society. Fourthly, I supported the university strikes last year as I think lecturers should be properly paid. Nowadays there is not enough staff, and with less admin, that means the lecturers have to take on more duties which results in less contact time with students. This can only have a negative effect. Finally, I want to see the student voice empowered, bigger and stronger student unions and improvements in education. Many students across the country have got involved with TUSC and I would love to see even more getting active with us.
What makes you the ideal parliamentary candidate?
Our candidates are working people, myself included. I believe the Government needs more working people who understand the real world and who understand day-to-day problems. We fight every day to protect people’s jobs, yet we feel that this voice is not being heard. Politics really has got out of touch. Parties are now being bought by big businesses and seemingly only represent the 1%. Some politicians accept money from lobbyists and others take advantage of the expenses system. I consider all of these unacceptable. As a member of parliament I would refuse an MP’s wage, opting to have an average wage instead. MPs should be honest and accountable and they have to keep their promises. I am strongly in favour for the recall of politicians if they fail to do their job properly. If they don’t keep their promises, the constituents have a right to recall their MP.
Not many people have heard of TUSC. What does your party stand for?
Not many people have heard of us because we are a new party. We were founded in 2010, when the trade unionists and socialist party formed a coalition in response to our belief that Labour no longer reflects our values. We want to ensure a better life for the majority and we feel Labour have abandoned that. We want to give a voice to those who oppose austerity and we believe everyone should have a fair deal at work. We are against zero-hour contracts and we would like to see the minimum wage raised to £10. We believe apprenticeships should be paid at trade union rates and lead to permanent jobs. Young people should be given real opportunities and shouldn’t face a lifetime of debt. Many will ask “where will the money come from?” It’s clear that wealth doesn’t trickle down from the rich, so instead we would enforce corporation tax on big businesses, tax the rich and stop tax aversion which costs our country £100 billion. With that amount of money, we could stop the deficit tomorrow.
TUSC (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) is the 6th largest political party in the UK, larger than Plaid Cymru and SNP, with 136 parliamentary seats and 630 local council seats. An increasing number of councillors are voting against cuts now so I think more people will begin to join the movement soon.
Some people might think you focus solely on cuts, and not enough on other issues. What would you say to that?
Cuts have affected everyone across the board, in the health service as well as in education. Austerity has had an impact everywhere. So whilst it does appear that our main focus is on stopping cuts, we do have a wide range of policies in other areas too. Where young people are concerned, we want to see them have greater access to grants again, as well as more opportunities to ensure they have a more secure future. They are our future and we do not want to sentence them to a lifetime of fixing the problems our generation created. The environment is also a key concern for us. We would invest in renewable energies such as solar and wind, and reject plans for fracking as it is harmful and unsustainable for the future. We would invest in public transport making it more affordable and more environmentally-friendly, as well as renationalise the railway services and utility companies, such as electricity and water. On a global level, we stand in solidarity with trade unionists worldwide. We want to see an end to the wars in the Middle East, where many lives have been unnecessarily lost. We also want to see an end to poverty, as we believe the world has enough resources, if only they were managed more effectively.
Why should we vote for you?
I think you should vote for politicians with a track record of doing what they say. I have been a trade unionist and socialist for over 30 years, and have actively supported other trade unionists. For example, I have stood at picket lines, protesting against the closure of services such as leisure centres and NHS facilities. I am standing for election because I want to continue the work that I already do. It is not just about me, I am representing a campaign. As an individual I can’t change the world but I can certainly support others who want to see change. I advise people to get active and do something about the things that affect them and that they care about. If you have any more questions, I can be contacted at: email@example.com
A list of all candidates running in Southampton and Winchester can be seen here.