Farnborough 6th Form College is huge with thousands of students, in Aldershot constituency.
The Green Party was asked to send someone, its only ½ an hour away so I went.
The difference with my local politicians is quite shocking as you will see.
As usual this is written from my notes, if there are any differences of opinion please comment.
The other PPCs were:
Gerald Howarth MP(Conservative) Shadow Defence Minister
Jonathan Slater (Labour)
Adrian Collett (Liberal Democrat) Contested Aldershot 1992, 1997, 2001, 2005.
Robert Snare (UKIP) Born 1932, Retired squadron leader.
Unfortunately Dale Fontaine (Official Monster Raving Loony) Didnt come, he is a veteran Elvis Presley impersonator!
After a brief introduction, we went into questions.
Q1 How would you change funding after Ashcroft and Unite?
L Unions founded Labour, they are democratic and pay taxes.
C Ashcroft has been very helpful. We need to limit funding, but not pay it from taxes.
G Limit party funding as the wealthiest can have too big an influence with posters. The suspicion is that lobbyists are buying influence with big donations, so should be state funded.
LD Reform the system first then state funding. Ashcroft has avoided paying £127 million in tax.
U I'm not a politician, a plague on all your houses. My funding is from my pension.
C Rebuttal – disputes Ashcroft tax figure, he made a deal wih HMRC, £2.5 m gift to LD then ran away.
Q2 David Cameron and the Gay Times Interview
C Equality for all, there are 'gay guys' on the shadow cabinet.
L Before 97 many things were illegal, Lab have made progress. David Cameron has brought the Tories into modern times.
An audience member asked an additional question about marriage equality.
LD Equality for all, while L&C have made progress, not all C have signed up. In EU the Cons sit with homophobes.
U In my working days as a pilot half the cabin staff were gay. Marriage would be downgraded if gay people included.
G Marriage and civil partnership should be equal, available to all. I think Cameron made a gaff, we are all human, we have just heard another gaff. (audience laughter).
C rebuttal. Not apologising for my voting record, I agree with the squadron leader. Marriage is the union of man and woman, anything else is bad for children. We are a Christian country.
Q3 Lisbon Treaty
U Eastern European EU people are 45% ex KGB(!!!!) 27 nations cant work together without imploding.
L Thanks to the Lisbon Treaty we have more rights, can tackle climate change, more democratic, cheaper phone roaming and cheaper flights (!!!!)
C We don't want a united states of Europe, a President whose name we can't pronounce (Herman Van Rompuy EU President) (he thought it was Baroness Ashton at first).
G We were promised a referendum and should have one, people are angry. The EU has brought peace to Europe.
LD We would be mad not to stay in the EU. Longest period of peace, the treaty tidied up laws. We should have a referendum on staying in.
U Peaceis thanks to Nato not EU, wars in Bosnia and Albania, loss of habeus corpus, European arrest warrants (then got a bit confused with USA extradition). Gary McKinnon did the USA a favour. China has 3000 hackers attacking.
Q4 How to restore the trust in British Politics.
LD difficult to have total transparency, LD had attemped to get bills passed but L&C voted against. MPs in safe seats are less careful, electoral reform needed.
L We have had a low point this year in politics, MPs should have 1 home, MPs salary should be determined by an independent body. I was the first to pledge on transparency.
G MPs salary is determined by an independent body, they decided to increase it! Proportional Representation would help things become more fair. If within commuting distance then one home, but for those with constituencies in the North of England will need a second home.
LD rebuttal. I was the first to pledge on transparency!
C Referred to personal attacks on him as he has a second home, being an MP isn't a 9 to 5 job and he needs it. The attack on MPs by the Telegraph was a sad day. I'm in politics for power, to use it to help people. Its not a job but a way of life. I will pay capital gains on my second home so the country benefits. As a shadow minister I can't be expected to drive back and forth to London every day, the congestion it impossible.
U I am aloof from all this! In my last job people were court-martialed and cashiered for this. Theft of taxpayers money. (Ashley More, Tom Wise ex MEPs fraud)
Q5 Is defence spending adequate.
U increase it 40%, Ukip discussed it at a recent conference and will release it to the press soon.
G At a time when things are tight, the troops don't have proper equipment, either increase spending or bring them home. Why are we in Afghanistan anyway? Cut Trident and all nuclear weapons.
The chair asked me to specify, I said I was a member of CND and so against nuclear proliferation.
C Who here knows what the PSBR means? Darling said cuts deeper than Thatcher. Iran is the threat we need the nukes for, they could kill us! We want to play a role in the world.
L 10% more defence spending than '97, we are in Afghanistan or al qaeda will regain power!
LD If not for Iraq we would have done better in Afghanistan. We should have listened to Vince Cable on the economy. Soldiers are without proper equipment. No need to renew trident now, leave it 20 years. Nuclear non proliferation treaty.
C had to make a phone call so left at this point.
Q6 University Fees.
LD Cut after 6 years, phased out gradually.
U EU wants a 5 year degree. Cut University places to save money. State scholarship in my day. Cut dodgy degree. (He was asked for an example) Politics. Discussed foreign students. (Roused the audience to anger, they pay moe to study here). I am old fashioned and proud of it. I don't need approval of namby pamby types. (He really did say namby pamby!) (Audience roused in anger, why are you here if you are not listening to new ideas).
L Pledged not to raise tuition fees. Created vocational training.
G Apprenticeships have been around a while, not created by L, there are too few of them, in construction we need to train up young people.
After a closing speech of thanks, the LD asked to make a few words. He plugged his website. Cheeky.
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