Monday December 2nd 2019
Written by Midlothian View reporter, Luke Jackson
Steve Arrundale, the Midlothian Liberal Democrat General Election candidate, was unable to attend the Midlothian Hustings last week as he had unavoidable business obligations. Here he provides the answers he would have given to the questions that were asked last week.
What are your 3 priorities for Scotland/UK?
– To create a Fairer Economy by increasing investment and opportunities in all areas of Scotland and the UK, not just in the big Cities.
– To tackle the Climate Emergency, making the switch to Renewables Energy sources, moving to all-electric-powered public transport with increased capacity and frequency and increasing incentives for electric cars.
– To Stop Brexit and Independence, allowing Scotland and the rest of the UK to re-stabilise and heal, and generating the £50bn remain bonus to be invested in growth.
In terms of climate change—Would you support the 3 demands bill?
The Lib Dems fully support 2 of the 3 demands. We have been calling out a Climate Emergency for a while now, and we have included the requirement to create a UK and Local Citizens assembly on the Climate Emergency in our Manifesto.
However, I believe that the 3rd demand of Carbon net zero by 2025 is too aggressive, and unachievable. I completely agree that we should strongly challenge ourselves to achieve stretching targets, but based on our current research and technology, 2045 is the earliest that we believe that Carbon net zero can currently be achieved.
How can you involve young people in politics?
I don’t think that there has been a better time for young people to become politically active, the impact that the decisions that we are taking on the future of the country will have a huge impact on the young people’s future, so they should have a say. Lowering the voting age to 16 for all elections is a great start, but I believe that we need to increase the engagement in schools. I would offer an hour every week of my time to attend each school in my Constituency in turn and hold workshops and Q&A sessions with pupils to give them a better insight into the workings of Parliament.
How would you help constituents with problems that are Council or Holyrood responsibility?
I believe that the local MP, MSPs and Councillors must work as a team, once they are elected, they must represent everyone in their constituency or ward, regardless of whether they voted for them or not. So if I were elected, I would hold regular meetings with all other elected representatives who represent the same areas, so that we can discuss issues that are being raised, issues that will impact the area and to hand over issues that can only be dealt with at different forums. This is the best way of staying aligned, and making sure that casework can be dealt with.
How would you mitigate your carbon footprint travelling to and from Westminster?
Unfortunately regular commuting to and from London is a necessary evil in the job as MP. However, there is a site called www.carbonfootprint.com
How would you tackle the problems of universal credit?
I believe that Universal Credit can be saved, but that it has been terribly implemented. The Lib Dems would reform it to make it work better for the Self Employed, but also provide better help for those without work, reducing the wait for the first payment on Universal Credit from 5 weeks to 5 days, and will make work pay by increasing work allowances.
How would you ensure that Scotland benefited from infrastructure projects such as HS2?
A modern, efficient and ultra-low-emission train network is key to be able to meet our Climate Emergency goals, therefore the Lib Dems have committed to convert the entire rail network to either Electric or Hydrogen trains by 2035, which will allow an upgraded network in Scotland to link-in seamlessly with HS2 to ensure that the benefits of such investment do not remain solely in England.
Your views on immigration policy and how it may affect Scottish Businesses?
I have already met a number of people on the doorstep who are hugely concerned about the impact that Brexit, and that the resultant lack of access to the European workforce will have a huge impact on key Businesses in the area such as the Roslin Institute, the Universities and the NHS. It is a fact that Immigration gives the UK a net-gain in income, immigrants make up roughly 8% of the population and contribute 10% of GDP, therefore the impact is a positive one. In the NHS, around 9.5% of NHS Doctors are from non-UK EU origin, compared to only around 6% of the patients. Therefore stopping nationals from other countries in the EU from being able to move freely to work in the UK will increase the strain on the NHS even further.
Is it not time to get BREXIT sorted?
Absolutely, and the only way to sort-it is to stop it. Agreeing a Brexit deal would not “Get Brexit Done”, it would “Get Brexit Started”, Trade deals would then need to be struck with the EU within a year or it would change to a No-Deal Brexit, Trade deals typically take around 5-7 years to negotiate, so we would just be starting another phase of Brexit which would realistically take us a decade to complete. Meanwhile Trump and Putin will be rubbing their hands in anticipation, as they will be able to take advantage of our negotiators being desperate to strike a deal as quickly as possible.
Is Curriculum for Excellence working: Where would you invest in Education?
I think that the latest PISA report, which shows that the quality of Education in Scotland dropping not only below that of England, but below the average of all countries in the EU, demonstrates that the Curriculum for Excellence is anything but. The Liberal Democrats would increase the funding available to schools, and revolutionise the employment terms of teachers, to ensure that they are enough highly qualified teachers in secure and fairly paid roles to deal with the pupil numbers.
How would you tackle poverty and inequality?
The amount of Poverty, and in particular Child Poverty, in the UK is a national scandal. The Liberal Democrats would remove the 2-child limit and the benefit cap, and invest £6bn per year on providing greater opportunities nationwide, rather than just in the south of England. An independent report from the Resolution Foundation think-tank calculated that the Lib Dem Policies would do the most out of all parties to reduce Child Poverty, meaning that under the Lib Dems, there would be 600,000 fewer children in poverty by 2023-24.
Why does Midlothian not get the devolved funds to match it’s growing population?
The formula for deciding Local Government Revenue is decided upon by the Scottish Government, so unfortunately I would not be able to answer that question. If I were elected and then set up the regular meetings that I proposed as part of question 4, then I would request that the local MSP provides detail into this topic.
Who will Lib Dems collaborate with in a Hung parliament?
We have been extremely clear on the fact that we will not go into coalition with either the Conservatives or a Corbyn-Led Labour Party. The Conservatives are pushing for a No-Deal Brexit and are backed by the likes of Brexit Party and Tommy Robinson, Corbyn is a far-left Brexiteer who wants to negotiate his own Brexit deal, therefore our values are incompatible with both. The SNP are obsessed with forcing through independence, which would also mean leaving the EU, no matter the devastating impact to Scotlands economy.
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