Monday December 06 2021



In Full . . .

Politics in the pulpit

Posted on April 22 2010 at 10:52:06

Candidates Sam Burden, Mark France, David Martin, Sajid Javid, Adrian Kriss, Philip Ling, Steve Morson and Ken Wheatley

It wasn’t quite a TV-style Leaders’ Debate, but a church-hosted hustings gave voters the chance to get a better idea of who they are voting for.

As Bromsgrove prepared for one of its most interesting General Elections for many years, the people hoping to attract your vote gathered at St Laurence Church, Alvechurch, to face the people.

Well, seven of them did – the name-tag for Elizabeth Wainwright (BNP) remained in front of an empty seat for the evening, leaving the stage an all-male affair.

David Martin, rector of Alvechurch, who chaired the hustings, explained to the 100 or so villagers present that the event was organised by Churches Together in Alvechurch and Rowney Green and they had made their best efforts to contact and offer all candidates the chance to set out their stall for the voting public.

With church stalwart Dick Russell acting as time-keeper to make sure no candidate hogged the stage, the candidates first had the chance to say who they were and why they felt the people of Bromsgrove constituency should vote for them before a number of questions were asked from the floor. For the thousands of you who will be voting, but who didn’t witness the event (Sky didn’t think it was quite worth a live broadcast!) we can supply the gist of it here.

Clearly, trying to cram a couple of hours into a couple of pages is unfeasible and so there isn’t always an answer from every candidate, but we’ve tried to be as balanced as possible.

Sam Burden, Labour: “The biggest issue is one of trust. It will be a pleasure to serve the people of Bromsgrove locally and enable you to put your trust in a local politician.”

Mark France, Independent: “I was born in Belbroughton. I think I am the only candidate to be born in the constituency.

“When I returned to Bromsgrove about four years ago after some absence I was horrified at how my town had gone downhill.”

He blamed years of Tory administration of the town for this.

Mr France said he was expelled from the Labour Party for questioning Gordon Brown’s “coronation” and he came to prominence by organising the “Julie Must Go” campaign.

Sajid Javid, Conservative: “The reason I got into politics was to give some of the things I was lucky to have to the next generation of children. This is the most important election since 1979. Anything but a vote for a Conservative candidate is a vote for five more years of Gordon Brown.”

Adrian Kriss, Bromsgrove Independent Conservative: “I feel we should give the people of Bromsgrove the choice of a local Conservative. Give the people a voice of someone who knows how people feel in the constituency.
“I understand the people, I understand the local issues, I understand how to put Bromsgrove back on the map.”

Philip Ling, Liberal Democrat: “This is a seat that is wide open. It used to be a safe seat, now when I talk to people they are not sure what the Conservatives are offering. The Lib-Dems are a serious alternative. We are not like Labour and Conservatives who have been pandering to the big banks since 1987.”

Steve Morson, UK Independence Party: “I have always, with two exceptions, voted Conservative. To me, if you do not like the options that are available, then you stand yourself – and I do not like the options.

“UKIP has a superb mix of policies and I think it is absolutely right for the problems that Britain faces today.”

Ken Wheatley, Independent: “I worked for the Conservative Party for some time in Edgbaston, but have not been involved for some years. I put in an application to the Conservative Party when David Cameron threw the doors open, but he didn’t want me, so here I am.”

Question: Do you have a personal faith? As a Christian, I feel that Christianity is being marginalised.

Sam Burden: “I am a Christian and have been for many years. We attend a local church in Hall Green where we live. The issue of personal faith is very important.
“I think faith needs to be valued for the contribution it makes to society. But we also need a society that recognises that we are a very diverse community and we need to provide space for people to follow their own faith and their own consciences.

Mark France: “I think Bromsgrove would benefit from greater diversity.

“I was baptised at Stoke Prior church and married at All Saints Church, Bromsgrove, with Muslim guests from Sparkhill singing Jerusalem with gusto.”

Sajid Javid: “My own family’s heritage is Muslim. Myself and my four brothers were brought up to believe in God, but I do not practise any religion. My wife is a practising Christian and the only religion practised in my house is Christianity.

“I think we should recognise that Christianity is the religion of our country.”

Adrian Kriss: “I am Jewish, but my synagogue is in Birmingham so I am quite secular because orthodox Jews have to walk to church on a Saturday.

“I believe you have a right to support your own god without any fear.”

Philip Ling: “I don’t practise any faith, but I understand different viewpoints on religion. Respect for people’s religion and the ability to practise it is very important.

Steve Morson: “In my 20s I had a life-changing experience which caused me to abandon my faith. In my 40s I had a profound spiritual experience, one that showed me quite clearly the difference between the religious and the spiritual.”

Ken Wheatley: “Britain is a great place and allows people freedom of religious beliefs. If someone wants to show a symbol of their faith, I have no problem. What I do expect from people in this country is loyalty to this country.”

Question: Where do you stand on devolution?

Mark France: “I am very proud to be English. The situation where we have so many Scots dominating Westminster is wrong and I would like that to change because I have had enough of Gordon Brown.”

Sajid Javid: “I think devolution was nothing short of constitutional vandalism and was done to shore up support for Labour. I am a big believer in the Union and would not want to break it up.”

Adrian Kriss: “I would like to see people being given the choice.”

Philip Ling: “The UK works very well.”

Steve Morson: “It cost £470 million for a parliament building for a country with a population of five million.

“I think it would be a minor disaster if Scotland seceded from the union.”

Ken Wheatley: “I concur with Sajid. I think the English are largely forgotten. It would be nice to be a trifle more patriotic about this piece of island that we occupy.”

Sam Burden: “I would thoroughly endorse the value of the union. The reason we have a Scottish parliament is that for many years the Conservatives let down Scotland.

“It is about making sure all the constituents of our great nation are represented properly.”

Question: Would you repeal the ban on hunting with dogs?

Sajid Javid: “I have never gone hunting and if I was ever invited, I would not be interested in going. But I would vote to repeal the law.”

Adrian Kriss: “The Act that went into parliament had nothing to do with foxhunting, it was to bring down the power of the Lords.”

Philip Ling: ”I would vote to keep the hunting ban as it is at the moment.”

Steve Morson: “This is an issue on which I am sitting on the fence.”

Ken Wheatley: “I’ve bred pedigree sheep for 20 years and the fox is an evil – he comes and he kills your lambs and off he goes.

“But it is better to wait in a ditch overnight and shoot him when he comes. The fox has to be dealt with.”

Sam Burden: “As our country has become more civilised we have changed laws. Chasing a fox over fields for hours on end is not civilised. There is no way we should ever go back to foxhunting.”

Mark France: “We should be proud that it was an MP for Worcester who tabled the original legislation that led to the ban. Times change and we should move on.”

Question: Due to the schools being full, new residents to Alvechurch are having to go to schools in Church Hill. What are your views on the extension of Alvechurch in light of the fact that the schools are full?

Philip Ling: “I know that the people of Alvechurch are resistant to new housing, but on the face of it a brownfield site [72 homes planned for the old schools site] makes sense.

“It would seem possible to extend the school itself, so that would be one solution. The Green Belt is a big issue around here.”

Steve Morson: “Next year in May you will have the chance to vote in the local elections, so I suggest you vote in a new council.

“There is a disconnect between the people who want to build new houses and people who build the infrastructure. Even if this is only 72 houses in Alvechurch it will have a knock-on effect.”

Ken Wheatley: “The problem was with the Labour Government promoting immigration. We don’t need more houses, we need fewer people.”

Sam Burden: “There are about 3,000 people currently waiting across Bromsgrove district for affordable housing. The reason they can’t get a house is because prices are going up all the time.

“The reality is that if we don’t address housing, village life will die. If young people cannot move into villages, then village life is going to change.

“It is really important that we create affordable housing and we also need to look at the infrastructure. It means we need to create more school places and open more doctors’ surgeries. It is very exciting and means we are bringing new life into communities.”

Mark France: ”The squeeze on incomes has affected people across the board, including the people who were affluent and who would previously have sent their children to private schools.”

Sajid Javid: “You cannot divorce the issue of immigration from this. As more and more people come into our country it is going to put more pressure on housing.”

Question: What are your views on Euthanasia?

Steve Morson: “I am up on the fence again. It is a place I am happy to occupy on this issue.”

Ken Wheatley: “As a residential home owner and care manager for 15 years I have seen many people pass through this world. It would seem to me that people could make the decision whether they would like to have their lives terminated peacefully.

“It is for the individual and at various times in our lives we are more able to make those decisions. It does seem wrong to continue with a life that we know is coming to an end and particularly if that life is suffering…”

Sam Burden: “Personally, I don’t support euthanasia. If it became legalised and widespread there is a danger of weak and vulnerable people believing that they are a drain on their families and they feel pressurised into taking a decision.”

Mark France: “The reality is that without any legislation in place, health care officers do take decisions and take actions that shorten people’s lives.

“It is not beyond the imagination of people targeting vulnerable individuals and pushing them towards euthanasia.”

Sajid Javid: “I think this will probably come up in the next parliament and will be a free vote.

“I agree with Sam on this one. I can understand how difficult it is for families to deal with these decisions and I can see the torment it can cause in families.

“My personal view is that I think it disturbing that an individual could help someone end their own life.”

Adrian Kriss: “The most important thing is quality of life and being without pain. People should have the quality of life they want.”

Question: Would you vote to repeal current laws on abortion?

Steve Morson: “I don’t think we can go back to the days pre-1966 when people had to use back-street abortionists.”

Ken Wheatley: “Abortion is something I personally would not be involved with. The main decision is for women. I don’t support it as a form of birth control, but there are some circumstances . . . ”

Sam Burden: “Repeal of the laws is not something I would support. I think the legislation could be reviewed and overhauled.”

Mark France: Praised David Steele for introducing the private member’s bill in 1966 which led to the legalisation of abortion. “I am in favour of maintaining the law as it stands,” he added.

Sajid Javid: “I can’t think of any circumstances where I would even consider abortion. I would not vote to repeal the Act, but if there was a move to shorten the limit to 20 weeks, then I would support that.”

Adrian Kriss: “You can’t possibly want a return to back-street abortions.”

Philip Ling: “I completely agree with what Steve and Mark have said – I would not vote to repeal the law and send us back to the 1960s. The majority of abortions are before 10 weeks. I also don’t want to see it used as a form of birth control.”

Question: Do the candidates believe that bankers have got off too lightly?

Sam Burden: “What’s interesting is we have got a banker on the panel. There is a big question about executive remuneration. Is it right that our chief executives are earning 100s of times what the ordinary workers are earning?

“Sajid has suggested recently that there is no way you can restrict the pay of executives in companies. I actually think we need to address this – frankly, a lot of what goes on is just greed.

“The tax on bankers’ bonuses was absolutely right and we need to look at executive pay.”

Mark France: “Deregulation of our financial services caused greed and it infected our MPs.”

Mr France backed the so-called “Robin Hood Tax” on banks, which he said is estimated to raise £100bn for the UK economy in a year, with no cuts in services or any rises in personal taxation.

“It means that the people who caused this crisis will pay for us to get out of it.

“I’m sure Sajid is certainly experienced as an international banker, but I don’t think Bromsgrove needs a banker as its next MP.”

Sajid Javid: ”Of course banks had a role to play in the crisis, but this crisis was also caused by cheap money flowing around the global system.

“I would not have rescued RBS and Lloyds. The Government had no right to take on the debts and say to the bankers, ‘heads you win, tails we lose’.

“They should know that if they fail they go to the wall. We have got to bring some reality into this debate if we are going to deal with this problem.”

Adrian Kriss: “To bail out the banks the way they did was totally ridiculous. What they should have done was guarantee the people’s money in the banks. No one should be paid and rewarded for their failure.”

Philip Ling: “The Conservative Government let the building societies become banks and every one of those has been taken over now. Both the Tories and Labour said we needed less regulation. At the moment nothing has changed.”

Steve Morson: “It has got to the point where some of the banks are called casino banks and that’s because of an unrealistic expectation of returns. Our economy is far too dependent on financial services. We need to move away from this financial services casino mentality.”

Ken Wheatley: “I don’t believe the taxpayer should have bailed out the banks. I am very surprised that the bankers, with all their wisdom, could not see this coming and that worries me. They need more controls and less chance of getting taxpayers’ money if they get it wrong.”

2005 Result:
Conservative: 24387 (51%)
Labour: 14307 (29.9%)
Liberal Democrat: 7197 (15.1%
Other: 1919 (4%)
Majority: 10080 (21.1%)

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