Interview: Stephen Galton: Conservative Candidate, Southampton Test

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Due to Mr Galton’s demanding schedule, my correspondence was over email.

What do you think is the most important issue in this General Election?

We have so many important issues to tackle.  The most immediate thing to resolve is the current Brexit impasse.  Only a vote for the Conservatives will allow us to move on from the current stalemate and then allow us to tackle the other crucial issues.  For me, the environment is right up there along with strengthening our vital public services like our NHS, Schools and Police.  When looking at tackling climate change we need a national Government that will be able to have a global impact.  I am convinced it would be a majority Conservative Government that could help achieve the vital global change we need to see to reduce rising CO2 concentrations.

There is a great deal of mistrust between voters and politicians.  Why should students and indeed any of your constituents trust you?

I’d say look at my record over the last decade when I have been politically involved.  I am not your typical politician.  It is important to always be upfront, honest and fully approachable.  It took me 4 attempts to win a local election in the Millbrook Ward as a Conservative candidate.  This is the Ward I live in and I was determined to keep trying harder and to prove why I am worth anyone’s vote.  I would say I have the most active online presence of any of the candidates and I try to ensure accountability for what I do and why I do it.  As your next MP, I would carry this on and hopefully show that we can have a better connection to our elected politicians and the decisions made in Westminster.

What steps do you think should be taken to solve the crisis in Student Mental Health?

Mental Health, in general, is an area we are already seeing positive steps in.  Under Conservative plans, we will see even more funding going in to ensure mental health is treated in the same way physical health.  As a local Councillor I have already done a fair bit of work around ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) and I feel understanding the impacts these have on future development and behaviour can really help us to get support in at an earlier stage to help people- but also do our best to reduce future issues by reducing ACEs in the first place.  I am always happy to walk and learn more around this; including listening to ideas for how we could better tackle and help with mental health.

What actions are you personally taking in response to the climate crisis?

As the local Conservative spokesperson for the Environment & Transport, I have been raising this as an issue constantly over the decade within the Council.  When I first appeared as a member of the public, heavily involved in the No Southampton Biomass campaign, at Council meetings nobody was talking about air quality or the environment.  Over the years this has changed.  We could and should be doing so much more though!  Locally the Conservatives moved a budget amendment in February this year that would have seen around £6 Million more funding going in to directly tackle environmental issues. From the £3 Million to secure ship-to-shore power in the docks (meaning ships wouldn’t run diesel generators in port-but would plug into electric) to £1 Million to directly fund the Green City Charter to ensure the funding was there to provide action, not just talk over the Environment.  I personally use the UN carbon credits scheme to offset my own travel related emissions and I feel we need to work with society to encourage a switch to a more sustainable way of living.

What policy from another political party do you most agree with?

I always listen and take on board other views; if there is a good policy then I have no problem supporting it or working to include it as our own party policy.  There is a lot of cross-party working that goes on locally; I chair the Overview and Security Management panel at Southampton City Council and some of the best work we do as a Council is via our cross party inquiries.  As your MP I would always look to work cross party where we can, putting aside partisan politics.  The thing that has most impressed me over the hustings we have done to date is how nearly all parties standing agree on the need to tackle the Climate Emergency.  We should harness this collective agreement to put in place the policies to provide effective action now.

Is Austerity over?

Nobody chose to go through what we have.  Back in 2010 the previous Labour Government left power with a record deficit.  This means we were borrowing £1 for every £4 we spent.  It was not sustainable and was the reason for the hard choices we have gone through.  The economy is now recovering, although the deficit still hasn’t been eliminated. We do now have the ability to invest wisely in our public services due to the Conservative management of finances.  We are seeing funding going into our NHS (£34 Billion) and our Police (20,000 new police officers)- plus billions into tackling our Environmental issues which I welcome the most.  Labour’s prolific spending proposals put this all at risk.  We would see the economy crash and our finances probably return to a worse state than 2010.  This would have serious consequences on our public services and take us back to a worse than square one position in my opinion.

In 2017, the Labour majority in this seat increased dramatically.  Are you confident of overturning the gap come December 12th? 

I am working hard as I always do.  I never shy away from talking about any subject and hope people feel I am a person they can engage with.  I have a ‘can do’ attitude so I do my best and hope that is enough.  If it isn’t then I hope the Conservative Party and local members would support me to try again.  I was born at Southampton General Hospital in 1978 and I’m going nowhere.  This is my home and I want to make it the best it could be, not just for me, but for my family and my children’s future.  Will that be enough to close the gap- it’s over to you to decide.

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