Love Think Pray Vote

The Joint Public Issues Team of the Methodist, Baptist, United Reformed Churches and Church of Scotland produced questions for church members to ask parliamentary candidates.

Nine of these questions regarding UK Public Services, UK Poverty, Refugees and Asylum Seekers, Climate Change, and Britain and the World were sent to, and received from, all candidates in the Cambridge constituency.  Candidates were asked to answer the questions in no more than 100 words each.  Responses which exceeded the word limit were précised.

Responses are printed in alphabetical order of party names, namely Brexit, Conservative, Greens, Independent, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Rebooting Democracy and Social Democratic..

UK Public Services

Q1 As needs change and populations age, how will your party reach long term decisions about social care for the good of all?

The Brexit Party/ Peter Dawe: I speak for myself not my party!  I will argue and vote for sustainable solutions to social care. Solutions that do not discriminate. Solutions that can be delivered and solutions that do not disenfranchise those receiving care. For example, I am supporting a local group who will build a “Care Village” which will be managed, and where possible, manned by the residents. This way not only is the care what is needed provided, but it is provided inexpensively.

The Conservative Party/ Russell Perrin: The Conservative Party have pledged £1 billion extra funding every year for more social care staff and better infrastructure, technology and facilities. We will commit to urgently seek a cross-party consensus in order to bring forward the necessary proposal and legislation for long term reform. The prerequisite of any solution will be a guarantee that no one needing care has to sell their home to pay for it.

The Green Party/ Jeremy Caddick: The Green party proposes the creation of a National Independent Living Support Service and a legal right to independent living for the elderly and disabled. These proposals have been drawn up in consultation with groups of disabled people. 

Independent/ Miles Hurley: As I don’t have a “party”, I’m standing more for the people of Cambridge. However, I generally believe that our current tax system needs overhauling. On e.g. corporation tax, we can increase this, but still make it lower than competitor countries in Europe to those that need it?

The Labour Party/ Daniel Zeichner: Labour built the NHS. Now we will build the National Care Service. We will provide community-based, person-centred support, supporting independent living. We will provide free personal care, beginning with investments to ensure that older people have their personal care needs met, with the ambition to extend this provision to all working-age adults. We will develop eligibility criteria that ensures our service works for everyone, including people with complex conditions like dementia. We will ensure no one ever again needs to face catastrophic care costs of more than £100,000 for the care they need in old age.

Liberal Democrats/ Rod Cantrill: We believe that our health and social care services are on their knees, due to lack of funding and investment.  Our plan to address this includes: Providing £7bn of additional revenue a year ring fenced for the NHS and social care, funded from a 1p increase in income tax.  In the longer term we will establish a cross-party health and social care convention, building on the previous work to agree the long-term sustainable funding of a joined up health and social care service.

Rebooting Democracy/ Keith Garrett: Rebooting Democracy is about changing the way we make decisions. Randomly selected people, stratified to ensure they are representative of the population, listen to evidence from experts and stakeholders. They then deliberate about this in small groups and come to decisions. This allows for real people based decision making and was the original form of democracy. This process is called a Citizens’ Assembly and is being used all over the world now. One has recently taken place on social care:…

Social Democratic Party/ Jane Robins: The Social Democratic Party is a grass-roots party, community-based and with a strong emphasis on social care. We intend to involve members from all backgrounds in our policy-making, and to set up a National Care Service for elderly people needing social care. The idea is that there will be a cap on how much individuals should have to pay for their own care. Once the cap is reached, state finance will kick in.

Q2 How will your party ensure that there is sufficient good quality affordable housing available to those that need it?

The Brexit Party/ Peter Dawe: I speak for myself not my party!  I believe the only solution for housing is matching supply and demand. Subsidised housing is divisive it generates inequality. Taxing holiday homes as hotel businesses (which they are), would I believe release many under-occupied homes. Using New Town Development Corporation laws to create new sustainable communities is the best way to increase housing stock, bypassing the monopolists who conspire to keep supply restricted to maximise profits.

The Conservative Party/ Russell Perrin: We will:

- encourage a new market in long-term fixed rate mortgages, opening up a path to home ownership for first-time buyers in all parts of the UK

- offer more homes to local families, enabling councils to use developers’ contributions via the planning process to discount homes in perpetuity by a third for local people who cannot otherwise afford to buy in their area – including possibly prioritising key local workers (police, nurses and teachers)

- bring in a Better Deal for Renters, including abolishing ‘no fault’ evictions and only requiring one ‘lifetime’ deposit which moves with the tenant.

The Green Party/ Jeremy Caddick The Green party supports rent controls on private tenancies tied to local income levels. We will take the heat out of the housing market by introducing a tax on the value of land to replace Council Tax and other taxes.

The Labour Party/ Daniel Zeichner: Labour will create a new Department for Housing and put councils in the driving seat. By the end of the Parliament we will be building at an annual rate of at least 150,000 council and social homes, with 100,000 of these built by councils for social rent in the biggest council housebuilding programme in more than a generation. Labour always backs more council homes, unlike the Lib Dems who opposed our plans for 500 more in Cambridge. We will take urgent action to protect private renters through rent controls, open-ended tenancies, and new, binding minimum standards. 

Independent/ Miles Hurley: Again, no party, but with specific reference to Cambridge, I think we need to levy a “tourism tax” to create a fund from which social housing in Cambridge can be financed.

Liberal Democrats/ Rod Cantrill: Liberal Democrats will build at least 100,000 homes for social rent a year and ensure that total housebuilding increases to 300,000 each year.  This will be financed from our £130bn infrastructure budget.  New houses will be built to zero-carbon standards.  We will also devolve the right to buy to local councils.  Here in Cambridge specifically, I will continue to campaign for an addition 1,000 social houses and for a Local Living Rent based on 1/3 of income for key workers in affordable housing.

Rebooting Democracy/ Keith Garrett: Once people get together and spend time discussing the issues that affect them without the biases of lobby groups and political parties they come up with decisions for the common good. So rather than a specific policy on a topic, Rebooting Democracy wants to change the whole system so we have good decisions being made, by the people based on evidence. In this example the assembly should hear from everyone involved including house builders, local residents associations, homeless people, home owners, renters etc.

Social Democratic Party/ Jane Robins: We have a core policy of providing 300,000 good quality council houses across the country.

UK Poverty

Q3 How do you actively value the voices of people who experience poverty?

The Brexit Party/ Peter Dawe: My record of projects I personally initiated shows I have empathy for all. Resonance Ltd has raised £300m that has been invested in not-for-profit organisation in housing, health, welfare and poverty.  I built the homeless project under Elizabeth Way Bridge, and Sandy Lane in Dereham, supported the Newmarket Homeless project and many other projects.  It is housing costs that are the biggest drain on resources, matching supply and demand there is the best way to mitigate poverty.

The Conservative Party/ Russell Perrin: We  have:

 - helped millions of people into work, halving unemployment

 - abolished employers’ National Insurance Contributions for under-21s and apprentices under 25, to help young people get a foot into employment

 - will raise the National Insurance threshold to £9,500 next year – representing a tax cut for 31 million workers.

 - doubled the personal allowance to £12,500, so workers get to keep more of what they earn

 - introduced and consistently raised the National Living Wage (NLW), widening its reach to everyone over 21

 - ensured the State Pension keeps pace with earnings

 - promised not to raise VAT

The Green Party/ Jeremy Cadick: The Green party proposes a radical shake up of our democratic system to give everyone a voice. As well as replacing the discredited First Past the Post System with one that ensures that everyone’s vote counts, we will extend the use of Citizens’ Assemblies and other direct democracy techniques to make sure that no-one’s voice gets lost.

Independent/ Miles Hurley: The poorest in society are greatly overlooked and often do not have a voice in decision making. I’m certainly pro more citizen assemblies which will enable the poorest in society to have a voice

The Labour Party/ Daniel Zeichner: As an MP I have heard heart breaking stories from people experiencing poverty in the city as pay has stagnated whilst insecurity has risen. Work and education no longer guarantee a way out of poverty but Labour will eradicate in-work poverty in our first term by tackling low pay and high living costs. Too many people found themselves in a spiral of debt as wages fell and housing costs rose as austerity bit under the Coalition Government. Labour will cap the total amount that can be paid in overdraft fees or interest on a loan.

Liberal Democrats/ Rod Cantrill: We will commit to a welfare system that works and supports people by: reducing the wait for a welfare payment to a maximum of 5 days, tackling child poverty by removing the two child limit and the benefits cap, establish a legal right to food, increase Local Housing Allowance in line with average rents in the area, abolish the bedroom tax, reverse the cuts to employment support allowance, reinstate the independent living fund and aim to end fuel poverty by 2025. 

Rebooting Democracy/ Keith Garrett: When selecting for those in the assembly various factors are taken into account. One of these is economic status. Once you give those directly affected by poverty the evidence about the situation and the agency to make the changes we will quickly improve the situation. It will no longer be rules being made by those who see others as abstract numbers but by people directly dealing with those affected.

Social Democratic Party/ Jane Robins: It is at the very heart of our party that policy has been too much in the hands of career politicians – the sort of people who have a private education, go to a top university and straight into politics. We intend to listen to all voices – especially those working directly with people in poverty and deprivation, and those experiencing deprivation themselves.

Q4 What do you think the purpose of the welfare system should be?

The Brexit Party/ Peter Dawe:

1) To minimise the possibility of people being unhappy

2) To help unhappy people to become happy

3) To support unhappy people until there is a possibility for them to become happy

I use happiness intentionally, as poverty is a relative matter, that is fed by unsustainable consumerism.

The Conservative Party/ Russell Perrin: I think a welfare system should be there to support people when things go desperately wrong. It should enable those who can work to return to employment and not keep them in a benefits trap. Essentially work should pay. If people are unable to work then the welfare system should be there to support them so they can live a safe, comfortable and dignified life.

The Green Party/ Jeremy Caddick: The purpose of our welfare system should be to ensure a decent minimum for all. Greens propose a Universal Basic Income paid, as of right, to all adult residents as citizen and valued members of our community. This will transform the status of welfare recipients as well as their finances.

Independent/ Miles Hurley: As someone whose late wife was on DLA and ESA because she was disabled and had to suffer the indignity and humiliation of a back to work assessment, the welfare system should be there to support those who for whatever reason are unable to support themselves, be that on a temporary or permanent basis.

The Labour Party/ Daniel Zeichner: I believe in the welfare state with excellent health, education, and policing systems for all. Our welfare state should particularly support the most vulnerable in society. Over the last 10 years, through a catalogue of punitive welfare policies, the dignity of people with disabilities has been degraded by the Conservatives and Lib Dems. Not one, but two UN reports describe the government having committed ‘systematic violations’ of the rights of disabled people – while their families have been ‘driven to breaking point’ by cuts to social care.

Liberal Democrats/ Rod Cantrill: People should have enough money to keep a roof over their heads, to buy food, heat their home, access services and opportunities on line, or afford a simple bus journey to visit or care for a family.  The welfare system should be one that provides a real safety net for those that need it, and effectively supports people to get back into work.  Locally I will campaign for an addition 1,000 social houses, a Local Living Rent based on 1/3 of income for key workers in affordable housing and a Cambridge Living Wage linked to the London Living Wage.

Rebooting Democracy/ Keith Garrett: Rebooting Democracy doesn’t have any specific views on financial instruments used to correct imbalances. It would be up to the people themselves to review the reasons for welfare and how it is applied.

Social Democratic Party/ Jane Robins: To care for those who cannot care for themselves. To aid recovery for all those in difficult situations, but with the innate capability to find a way out.

Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Q5 Will you support either or both of “a time limit for immigration detention of 28 days” and “restoring asylum seekers’ right to work” and/or other measures to restore dignity to people seeking asylum in this country?

The Brexit Party/ Peter Dawe: I always look at the long term systemic issues, not the short term “sticking plasters”.   For example I helped found a model farm in Mozambique that taught people better agricultural practices that rapidly improved local nutrition.  The global emergency is creating millions of people who will seek refuge.  Providing asylum to those with the ability to travel, is divisive, unfair and incentivises dangerous journeys. This has to be solved at source. We need to help keep those with initiative, skills etc where they can do the most good and support them to solve the problems of their home countries.

The Conservative Party/ Russell Perrin: We believe that what unites us are far more important than our differences. Our society has been enriched by immigration and we will always recognise the contribution of those who have helped build our public services, businesses, culture and communities. We will boost English language teaching, back the National Citizen Service, and continue to grant asylum and support to refugees fleeing persecution, with the ultimate aim of helping them to return home if it is safe to do so. We will continue to champion freedom of expression, diversity, tolerance, and confidence in the UK’s own identity and values.

The Green Party/ Jeremy Caddick: The Green party opposes all detention of asylum seekers. We would abolish the Home Office and it’s hated ‘hostile atmosphere’, and replace it with a new ministry.

Independent/ Miles Hurley: Yes - to both questions.

The Labour Party/ Daniel Zeichner: Refugees are victims of wars, environmental catastrophes,  famine or persecution. This government has failed its international legal obligations to refugees and to allow people to exercise their rights to seek asylum. A Labour government will uphold those rights and meet those obligations.  We will work with others to resume rescue missions in the Mediterranean,  co-operate with the French authorities to put an end to the horrific camps, and establish safe and legal routes for asylum seekers. Once here, refugees will have the right to work, access to public services and will be treated humanely by government at all levels.

Liberal Democrats/ Rod Cantrill: We would make immigration detention an absolute last resort, introducing a 28-day time limit on detention and close 7 on the Uk’s 9 detention centres.  We will give asylum seekers the right to work three months after they have applied allowing them to work in any role.  We will resettle 10,000 vulnerable refugees a year and a further 10,000 unaccompanied refugee children and expand family reunion rights.  We will move asylum policy making from the Home Office to the DFID and establish a dedicated unit to improve the speed and quality of decision making.

Rebooting Democracy/ Keith Garrett: Once again, the party has no specific policies. Citizens’ Assemblies would be held to ascertain how we treat people who are seeking asylum. These assemblies would include people who have been through the system and hear evidence from people affected. The humanising of the process will bring about a much more empathetic society. The whole process of decision making will be transparent. How a decision is made is just as important as the decision itself.

Social Democratic Party/ Jane Robins: We are looking at a number of ways to help refugees and asylum seekers. We wish to reduce net migration to 100,000 a year. This will help us increase both the number of refugees finding a new home in the UK and improve the quality of the service we can provide for them.

Climate Change

Q6 In order to get us on track for achieving net-zero emissions in the UK what policies must the government introduce over the next year?

The Brexit Party/ Peter Dawe: Fossil fuel rationing. Rationing is the only certain and fair way of allocating the limited allowance the planet has. It will incentivise people to conserve their allowance. This will totally change the behaviour and market for all sectors of the economy. Transport, leisure, food, heating….

The Conservative Party/ Russell Perrin: Our commitments include new international partnerships to tackle deforestation and protect landscapes and wildlife corridors;  a new £500 million Blue Planet Fund to protect our oceans from plastic pollution, warming sea temperatures and overfishing, and preserving and protecting at least 30 per cent of the world’s oceans by 2030; investing in R&D, decarbonisation schemes, new flood defences, which will receive £4 billion in new funding;  electric vehicle infrastructure including a national plug-in network and gigafactory; and clean energy; investing £800 million to build the first fully deployed carbon capture storage cluster by the mid-2020s.

The Green Party/ Jeremy Caddick: The next government must plan for at least a decade ahead. We propose a massive Green New Deal that will spend £100 billion per year for the next ten years on decarbonising the way we live. This should be combined with a carbon tax levied on the extraction and import of carbon fuels, to make burning carbon uneconomic before 2030. In the first year we would stop all airport expansion and new road building schemes and invest instead in public transport, particularly the railways.

The Labour Party/ Daniel Zeichner: My politics are red and green. A Labour Government will kick-start a Green Industrial Revolution that will create one million jobs in the UK to transform our industry, energy, transport, agriculture and our buildings, while restoring nature. Our Green New Deal aims to achieve the substantial majority of our emissions reductions by 2030 in a way that is evidence-based, just and that delivers an economy that serves the interests all. To achieve this we will need a real focus on these issues by world-class scientists. 

Independent/ Miles Hurley: Greater introduction of electric vehicles by local authorities, bus companies, local delivery companies. Introduce as many schemes for sustainable micro-generation of electricity (solar, wind, water) as possible.

Liberal Democrats/ Rod Cantrill: Liberal Democrats are committed to achieving net-zero emissions as quickly as possible.  Our immediate priorities will be: an emergency programme to insulate all Britain’s homes by 2030, investing in renewable power so that at least 80% of UK electricity is generated from renewable by 2030 and banning fracking for good.  We will protect nature and the countryside, tackling biodiversity loss and planting 60 million trees a year to absorb carbon, protect wildlife and improve health.  We will invest in public transport, electrifying Britain’s railways and ensuring all new cars are electric by 2030.

Rebooting Democracy/ Keith Garrett: Rebooting Democracy would hold a national citizens’ assembly. This process would ensure everyone understood the science, issues about global justice, bias detection, critical thinking. They would then consider all aspects of our society and how it needs to change to solve the problem. The open process would get input from the entire country and all output would be available for everyone to see. This would allow everyone to accept the process. The plan that would come out would give us a level playing field from which we can all start to make the changes.

Social Democratic Party/ Jane Robins: We have a number of environmental policies in place, but are actively developing a more detailed approach, ased on pragmatism and innovation. We are committed to placing the environmental impact at the heart of building policies, recycling policies and international affairs.

Britain and the World

Q7 What is your vision for Britain’s future relationship with the European Union?

The Brexit Party/ Peter Dawe: I believe the UK is a world leader in solving the problems of the world. Not having to compromise with other governments who are less radical, the UK can be  beacon to the world. For example, carbon rationing. I see competitive trading Blocs as a danger to world peace and a barrier to creating a sustainable world.

The Conservative Party/ Russell Perrin: Our new relationship will be based on free trade and friendly cooperation, not on EU’s treaties or laws. There will be no political alignment with the EU. We will keep the UK out of the single market and any form of customs union, and end the role of the European Court of Justice.

This future relationship will be one that allows us to: Take back control of our laws, money, and trade policy.  Introduce an Australian-style points-based immigration system. Raise standards in workers’ rights, animal welfare, agriculture and the environment. Ensure we are in full control of our fishing water

The Green Party/ Jeremy Caddick: will campaign for a people’s vote and will push to retain the deal we currently have as members of the EU. We should remain in the EU and seek to transform it from within to tackle the climate emergency, global inequality, and the influence of big corporations and companies based in secrecy jurisdictions.

Independent/ Miles Hurley: We should stay in the EU.

The Labour Party/ Daniel Zeichner: I believe the best deal is the one we currently have: full membership of the European Union. Labour will legislate for a People’s Vote to give you the final say on Brexit. Within three months of coming to power, a Labour government will secure a sensible deal and within six months, we will put that deal to a public vote alongside the option to remain. I believe this is a credible policy and a real road to remain.

Liberal Democrats/ Rod Cantrill:  For over three years the Liberal Democrats have been the strongest voice for the UK remaining part of the EU and are committed to stop Brexit.  The importance of the UK being part of the EU has never been clearer.  Working together through the EU, we have achieved peace and prosperity on a continent historically wracked by war and division.  Many challenges of the 21st century are global: climate change, human trafficking, the arms trade, the power of multinationals, global poverty and inequality.  If the UK is not part of the EU our ability to tackle these challenges is diminished.

Rebooting Democracy/ Keith Garrett: We would use a series of Citizens’ Assemblies and other deliberative methods to get the country to come to a true decision about what we want regarding Europe. This would circumvent the lies and half-truths being pushed in the current ‘debate’. This would be true decision making based on evidence.

Social Democratic Party/ Jane Robins: We feel we must leave the EU, as was mandated by the 2016 election. Thereafter, we will seek a strong and close alliance with our European friends.

Q8 Would you support MPs having a role in scrutinising new trade deals negotiated by the UK after Brexit, especially with regard to their impact on human rights, poverty and the environment?

The Brexit Party/ Peter Dawe: Yes, I’m not aware that this has ever been considered otherwise, by anyone!

The Conservative Party/ Russell Perrin: The role of all MP’s is to scrutinise the work of Government. I whole heartedly support the scrutiny function of members of the legislature.

The Green Party/ Jeremy Caddick: Of course. In particular Greens oppose investor-state dispute settlement mechanisms that give too much power to big companies and hinder the freedom of governments to work for their citizens’ good.

Independent/ Miles Hurley: Yes.

The Labour Party/ Daniel Zeichner: I hope that we will continue to be members of the European Union and so our democratically elected representatives can continue to scrutinise new trade deals. Key is that negotiations are fully transparent and that trade rules allow governments, particularly in poor countries, to have a say in finding solutions to end poverty. Trade rules must not allow big business to profit at the expense of people’s working rights and the environment.

Liberal Democrats/ Rod Cantrill: Liberal Democrats will continue to fight to stop Brexit and remain in the EU.  We continue to call for a second referendum, where we will campaign to remain.  We believe that the best way to protect human rights, poverty and the environment is by continuing to be at the heart of the EU.

Rebooting Democracy/ Keith Garrett: All deals and decisions would be made by the people. Everything would be assessed using the best evidence available. While corporations and banks would be able to submit evidence about prospective trade deals, it would be the people who are affected making the decisions. This will be better for all of us.

Social Democratic Party/ Jane Robins: We would strengthen the role of select committees in these areas.

Q9 How would you encourage progress towards a world free of nuclear weapons, and a world free of extreme poverty?

The Brexit Party/ Peter Dawe: We are entering a dangerous period. The challenge is ensuring that governments solve both their country’s problems and the world’s problems, and not to “Beggar their neighbour”. Unfortunately, when countries are under stress, evil divisive politicians emerge, seeking scapegoats rather than rising to the challenge. If only “Bad Guys” have weapons, they will succeed at the expense of everyone else. Our aim is to remove unhappiness and seek happiness, rather than talk of wealth and poverty. We need to build a sustainable world, not one that worries about the latest trainers, or indeed the size of their bank account.

The Conservative Party/ Russell Perrin: We are committed to the long-term goal of a world without nuclear weapons, and to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as the essential foundation for the pursuit of peaceful uses of nuclear energy. We will also launch a £500 million Blue Planet fund, resourced from the International Aid budget, to export UK expertise in marine science to support developing countries to protect marine habitats, support biodiversity and tackle climate change. This will help lift out of absolute poverty some of the estimated 1 billion people around the world who rely of fish as their main source of protein.

The Green Party/ Jeremy Caddick: would cancel Trident and increase the amount paid by the UK in international aid from 0.7% to 1% of national income. This would be targeted at tackling the climate emergency. We would also support measures to protect the rights of indigenous peoples. 

Independent/ Miles Hurley: I’m pro a nuclear deterrent, but I don’t see why we’re in such a rush to renew Trident. To tackle extreme poverty, we need to strengthen the role of international NGOs.

The Labour Party/ Daniel Zeichner: The security challenges we face know no borders. Labour will increase funding for UN peacekeeping operations to £100 million. We will maintain our commitment to NATO and our close relationship with our European partners, and we will use our influence at the United Nations to support peace and security worldwide. I oppose nuclear weapons. Labour will also actively lead multilateral efforts under our obligations to the Non-Proliferation Treaty to create a nuclear-free world.

Liberal Democrats/ Rod Cantrill: Our priorities are: defending international cooperation against the rising tides of nationalism and isolationism, supporting multilateral organisations like the UN and Nato which are increasingly under threat, spending 0.7% of GNI on aid to reduce poverty and defend human rights and cooperating with EU partners in tackling global poverty.

Rebooting Democracy/ Keith Garrett: The people would be making the decisions as groups in the from of Citizens’ Assemblies regarding issues such as nuclear weapons and the county’s stance on property. Evidence from the experts in the field of nuclear weapons, people who have studied their effects etc would all present to the assembly. Decisions could then be made based on the evidence. Our attitude to world poverty would be dealt with in the same way.

Social Democratic Party/ Jane Robins: We are in favour in international nuclear disarmament. As a candidate, global poverty is a deep concern of mine. Decades ago, I became a journalist in order to write about the poorest of the poor around the world and spent many years doing so. It’s a complex subject – but the answers come primarily from the establishment of strong institutions in poor countries, the rule of law, paying farmers a fair price for their products and – in the west – refusing protectionist trade policies that discriminate against the poor. It was from this perspective, that I first wrote about the EU.