Parliamentary Candidate Interviews: TUSC’s Sue Atkins


In the run up to the 2015 General Election, Wessex Scene are interviewing the candidates running in Southampton Itchen. Here I interview TUSC candidate Sue Atkins.

What will be your number one priority if elected?

My number one priority would be to raise everybody’s living standards.  For too many years we’ve had no or very small pay increases and the minimum wage is very low.  I think we need a minimum wage of £10 an hour now, to lift people out of extreme poverty so that people can pay their taxes and not have to rely on food banks and benefits, or even to help them when they’re in work.

What particularly could you offer to students?

I think we need education that is free at the point of use, as it used to be. Our current MPs John Denham and Alan Whitehead both went to university, to this university with student grants instead of loans and didn’t pay any tuition fees.  But now they’ve consistently voted for tuition fees and loans. So I would cancel tuition fees and I’d bring in grants instead of loans, so that students are not incurring massive debts when they leave university. Although some people tend to grin and bear it, it is a disincentive to go to university, particularly for working class students, and those bars shouldn’t be there.

I am a feminist and I see that one of your policies is to ‘Ensure women have genuinely equal rights and pay’. The UK adopted the equal pay act in 1970 – how would you say this has failed women and how will you ensure that this is achieved? And why personally do you think this is important?

I completely support equal pay and I’ve campaigned for it myself but the problem is the way that society is organised at the moment.  We have to fight for everything, every reform and for every piece of legislation.  Although equal pay may be on the statute book, we still have to fight for that to be implemented. You look at all sorts of events recently as well, where people have to go to court, to campaign or to strike in order to achieve equal pay and this is still going on. I think that women’s pay and conditions of service are seriously behind men’s.  We are much more likely to be on short-term or part-time contracts and we need to keep on campaigning.

You say you want to ‘tax the rich’. How do you define rich and what would your top band of income tax be? If you tax the rich too heavily do you think that they would leave the country in their droves and that this would have an adverse effect on the economy?

Well, the wealth in society is created by people like you and me who work for their living. The very wealthy who own it, they cream off the profits.  They need us very much more than we need them. If they wanted to leave, we have the factories, the workers and the skills. We don’t really need them. As far as defining rich, it’s all relative, it’s not so much about the salaries they earn. Although MPs earn or will earn in the next government, £74,000 a year. That puts them in the top 5% of salary earners. But it’s all the unearned income, it’s all the non-dom accounters, the off-shore tax havens. All the un-earned income that I would target.

So what would be the band of income?

Back in the 60s, income tax over a certain level was at 98%.  The greens are talking about 60% and I think that would be a reasonable amount. I think you’d have to look at it, but it would certainly be a lot more than it is now. The rich get away with what they reckon is at the moment about £120 billion of tax each year that goes uncollected. That’s just on the present formulae and I think they ought to be paying a lot more tax.

You want to build affordable council housing. How to you propose that local councils fund this scheme and would you build on green belt land?

No I wouldn’t build on green belt land. There’s plenty of brown belt land. The top 4 property developers are sitting on enough brown belt land to build one and a half million homes. But, sometimes, they buy the land and sit on it, waiting for the value of the land to go up or for building regulations to change.  They sit on the land and this should not be allowed. So there is land there. There are also lots of empty properties.  Particularly when overseas capital comes in to buy up property and then they leave it empty because they see it as an investment because it’s more profitable than putting money into manufacturing. I don’t think that should be allowed. As far as local authorities are concerned, we’ve got the land, the resources and the labour and I think it needs to be brought together to get the houses that we need. Local authorities can borrow money and it’s a good investment.   I’m not against borrowing. If you borrow in order to build the houses that they need, then that’s fine.

I think in the short term this is fine. Yet also, the reason they have to borrow is that local-government is starved of funding by national government.  The reason we’ve got cuts in jobs and services is because of government policy. I think councils need to stand up to the government and say, ‘this is what we need for our local people, we’re going spend this money and demand that you pay it back’. They can spend billions of pounds on Trident. They can find limitless sums for a war in Iraq. Why can’t we have decent homes for the people at home? I also think it’s important to just make the money available to local authorities to build the housing. Also, there is waste in terms of the marketization of the health service, with PFI contracts, where we’re mortgaged so strongly to private companies who syphon off huge amounts of tax-payers’ money into their own  pockets. I think taxpayers’ money should be used to benefit society as a whole.

You say you would re-nationalise services such as transport and prisons. How would the TUSC afford to buy these back from private shareholders?

Well a lot of the time we wouldn’t buy them back.  If you look at rail, that goes out to franchisees every five years.  So as those franchises came up, we wouldn’t renew them just take them back into public ownership. You wouldn’t have to buy it back at all. As to the question of how you would take other industries back in, I think you would compensate on the basis of proven need. If you or I put our life savings into stocks and shares or invested in those companies, then you would compensate them. But, for big business and the people who live on unearned income, they’ve taken enormous amounts out of those industries already and it would work on a basis of proven need.

Smaller parties often have to go into coalition. Would your party be willing to go into coalition with any bigger parties?

Well, we have the word coalition in our name. But that’s coalition on the basis of a common programme. I’m in favour of coalition with people that are like-minded. But I couldn’t go into coalition with any of the bigger parties because there’s too much difference between them and us.

A list of all candidates running in Southampton and Winchester can be found here.

More articles in General Election 2015
  1. Labour Party and Business: A Difficult Relationship?
  2. Chameleon Conservative Cameron Shows True Colours
  3. An Election Reflection for a Majority Minority
  4. Mhairi Black: Giving Politics a Makeover
  5. Galloway Threatens Legal Action Over Election Result
  6. Voter Turnout: What The Numbers Tell Us About The 2015 General Election
  7. Looking At The Reaction to the Election Explains its Result
  8. The Polls Were Wrong Because People Lied, it’s That Simple!
  9. Russell Brand “Resigns” from Politics following General Election Result
  10. It’s Not The Cold War Anymore, We Don’t Need a Nuclear Deterrent
  11. The Future of Labour: Who Will Be The Next Leader?
  12. The Future of the Liberal Democrats: Who Will Be the Next Leader?
  13. The Future of UKIP: Who Will Be the Next Leader?
  14. A Tale of Three Ends
  15. The Tory Legacy
  16. If the Party Leaders were characters from Friends…who would you vote for?
  17. The Ten (Well, Six) Commitments: Is Stone Legally Binding?
  18. Tuition Fees: A Hollow Attempt to Pander to the Student Vote?
  19. 6,417 Ed Milligrams – What Do You Actually Vote For?
  20. Boris Johnson to become Gangster Rapper
  21. Political Engagement: The Calm After the Storm
  22. Parliamentary Candidate Interview: Green Party’s John Spottiswoode.
  23. Parliamentary Candidate Interviews: TUSC’s Sue Atkins
  24. Parliamentary Candidate Interview, Independent Candidate Chris Daviss
  25. “I don’t think the Liberal Democrats should be in government just for the sake of it” – An Interview With Nick Clegg
  26. Parliamentary Candidate Interview, TUSC’s Nick Chaffey
  27. Parliamentary Candidate Interview: Conservative’s Jeremy Moulton.
  28. Should Young People Be Made To Vote?
  29. The Nationalist Parties
  30. No Votes for Women?
  31. None of the Political Candidates Ticking Your Box? There is Another Option.
  32. The Other Parties
  33. Liberal Democrats Party Profile
  34. The Green Party
  35. Labour Party Profile
  36. In Defence of the Coalition
  37. Why Labour Should Win the Election But Won’t
  38. The Protest Vote: The Weapon of the Disenfranchised.
  39. Why Young People Must Use Their Vote
  40. An Interview With Natalie Bennett
  41. What Will a Multi-Party System Mean for Britain?
  42. Tuition Fees: Must Try Harder Ed
  43. Science and Policy
  44. This Election is Far Bigger Than Party Politics
  45. Parliamentary Candidate Interviews: Ian Callaghan, Green Party
  46. Parliamentary Candidate Interviews: Lib Dem’s Adrian Ford
  47. Paliamentary Candidate Interview – Labour’s Darren Paffey
  48. Parliamentary Candidates Interviews: Lib Dem’s Eleanor Bell
  49. TV Debates: The Crucifixion of David Cameron
  50. Parliamentary Candidate Interview – Labour’s Rowenna Davis
  51. Parliamentary Candidate Interview, the Green Party’s Angela Mawle
  52. Can We Trust Politicians Who Act Like Schoolchildren?
  53. Parliamentary Candidate Interview – UKIP’s Sandra James
  54. Manifesto Focus: Labour
  55. Why Nuclear Weapons Are Imperative For The UK’s Security
  56. Southampton’s Role in the General Election Should Not Be Overshadowed by a Sausage Roll
  57. Just When You Thought UKIP Couldn’t Do Anything Right…
  58. What the Hell Do You Want?
  59. Which Political Leader Are You?
  60. The EU: To Be or Not To Be
  61. Your 2015 General Election Candidates
  62. What a Silly Sausage: Southampton UKIP Candidate Accused of Bribery
  63. UKIP Party Profile
  64. Conservative Party Profile
  65. The Leaders Debate: The Insurgents, The Pretender & The Incumbent
  66. SUPA’s Short and Sweet Guide to Voting on 7th May
  67. TV Debate: Clash of the Titans
  68. Leaders Debate Brings Hope For Progressive Politics
  69. TV Debates: David Cameron and Ed Miliband Versus Britain
  70. 14,000 Voters Missing From Electoral Role in Southampton – Register to Vote Now!
  71. Men’s Rights Party Set To Contest in General Elections
  72. A Royal Coup? – Queen Guitarist Brian May Considering Standing for Election
  73. Debating Over Debates
  74. Galloway Demands Inclusion in TV Debates
  75. The General Election 2015 – A Disunited Kingdom? 
  76. 99 Days To Go: The Most Unpredictable Election Yet!
  77. Poll Indicates Demand for Green Party to be Included in Election Debates
  78. Have You Registered To Vote?
  79. Is Sol Campbell running for Parliament?
  80. Salmond to Stand as MP
  81. Students May Hold the Key!
  82. The Green Party Should Not Be Included in the 2015 General Election Debates
  83. Parliamentary Candidate Interview: Alan Whitehead MP
  84. What’s at Stake for Students in the General Election?
  85. It’s Time For Politicians To Get Down With The Kids
  86. The Debates Debate
  87. Who Will Run The Country in 2015?
  88. New Year, New Government? New Politics?
  89. Newly Elected Itchen MP Accused of Helping UKIP Secure Labour Votes

Leave A Reply