In the run up to the 2015 General Election, Wessex Scene are interviewing the candidates running in all three Southampton Constituencies. Here, I interview Green Party Candidate for Southampton Itchen, John Spotiswoode.
Johanna Blee:What will be your number one priority if elected?
John Spottiswoode: I have many priorities. Changing the tax system is the biggest, so the poor are lifted out of poverty and the rich pay their fair share. Scrapping Trident is also an urgent item.
JB: What can you offer students?
JS: We would scrap tuition fees, write off tuition debts and protect tenants’ rights in rented housing. We would also improve education in many ways such as class sizes of 20, exclusively qualified teachers, and changing the ‘tick box’ culture including scrapping of OFSTED.
JB: What about your background/ experience do you feel sets you apart from the other candidates?
JS: I am not a career politician and I have always stood for the poor and beaten down. I have chaired several Southampton major campaigns, such as successfully with Hampshire Against Fluoridation and less so with the Yes to Fair Votes (Southampton wing of the national campaign).
JB: With your particular interest in economics, how would you respond to criticism that the Green Party’s policies are idealistic and financially fanciful?
JS: That comes from people who do not understand economics, or simply want to smear the Green Party. In fact our core economic policy of a Citizens Income was originally proposed by the top monetarist economist Milton Friedman and is a thoroughly economically sound approach. The details would have to be worked out in government but the approach is solid economically. Our commitments on extra funding are balanced by commitments such as a wealth tax a Robin Hood tax and stopping tax dodging.
JB: Having seen in the previous government a lot of students feeling let down by the U-turn made by the Liberal democrats regarding tuition fees. If elected as an MP of a minority party how would you realistically go about implementing controversial policies? Would compromises be made and if so on which issues?
JS: The Green Party have said that we would not go into coalition with anyone but would support issues on a case by case basis where we agree with them. If there is a roadmap to achieve our ultimate aims whilst doing it gradually in steps then that may also be acceptable.
JB: As the city with the first green council and MP, Brighton is often looked to as an example of Green party politics. What do you think of the problems surrounding, for example, their poor recycling record? And Caroline Lucas’ ‘hands on’ approach to protesting? If elected how would your local approach differ/coincide with the one taken in Brighton?
JS: The Green administration in Brighton is a minority administration. Therefore the Green Party needs the votes of other Parties to get things passed. It often appears like the other big Parties would prefer that the first Green Council to fail by obstructing implementation of our policies. Despite this progress is being made in things like a Living Wage for Council staff, 20 mph speed limits, ‘no evictions policy’ and keeping the City’s libraries open (unlike Southampton). I thoroughly support Caroline Lucas and her hands on approach to protesting. The situation in Southampton and Brighton is different but the objectives would be broadly similar.
A list of all candidates running in Southampton and Winchester can be seen here.