In our final post in our General Election series, we couldn’t avoid it any longer. We had to ask about the B word.
We asked the candidates for South West Norfolk: The country is still bitterly divided along the two sides of the Brexit referendum. On both sides, Brexit has weakened the public’s faith in democracy and our institutions. What will you do to restore the public’s faith?
Pallavi Devulapalli – Green Party
I agree that the 2016 referendum has damaged faith in people’s perception of politics and people on both sides of the artificial Brexit divide feel badly let down. What everyone wants is better public services, good housing, and a more sustainable affordable living. Nobody should feel the need to work two jobs a week just to put a roof over their heads and food on the table. I believe that people know a lot more about the implications of leaving the EU than they did in 2016, and as a doctor I would always ask twice before performing surgery on anyone, so I will support a People’s Vote which will be legally binding to put this matter to rest. We are spending precious time and resources on this issue while the climate crisis is at our door in the form of floods/droughts/soil degradation/water scarcity and biodiversity loss. We need to focus our attention on tackling these matters urgently. Membership of the EU brings numerous benefits to our people and in the event of a People’s Vote I will campaign for us to Remain in the EU.
Josie Ratcliffe – Liberal Democrats
We need a democracy that accurately reflects people’s views and empowers them to control their communities and their lives better. Moving to a voting system that takes people’s preferences int account and gives us a proportional parliament is a really important part of that. This election I’ve been publicly backing Make Votes Matter’s campaign to call for a proportional system for our elections, and I think getting to a system where people’s votes really count will help with that. We need politics to be honest, too, and I think recent government stunts like the Conservative party pretending to be a fact-checking site on social media have been really unhelpful there. I think we need a strong media with good fact-checking capabilities, and more action taken against fake news on social media which is too common among all shades of political opinion.
I’ve been very worried by how personally antagonistic politics has become in recent years – my neighbouring Lib Dem candidate in Mid Norfolk recently even had someone tell him that they’d shoot him if he got elected, which is just not on. It discourages more vulnerable people and those from outside political circles from getting involved, too, which is why my background as a lorry driver I think is important to talk about, to let people know that politics doesn’t all have to be done by people who’ve spent their lives in a Westminster bubble. Making our politics reflect our society better will help people feel that they can identify with what’s happening, rather than it all seeming like a distant elite thing. Breaking politics out of being a two-party shouting match will also help people feel their voices are being heard, not just that they have to vote for the least worst option to “stop the other lot”.
I get that people are frustrated by Brexit and why it’s eroded trust. I’m honest about my opinion there – I think Brexit’s a bad idea and I want to stop it happening. Whether you agree with me on that or not, though, we should never have been in this position where people were told they could vote on “Brexit”, with various contradictory ideas of what that might mean, and then have had to sit through years of increasing anger and frustration as the Conservative party tore itself to shreds failing to deliver. People have a right to be upset about being offered a choice that couldn’t be delivered on: we all want to feel in charge of our own destinies, and able to build a brighter future for ourselves. I’m standing to be South West Norfolk’s next MP because it’s time to call a stop to the Brexit debacle which is eating our political life from the inside out, put the last few years of division and pain behind us, and find new ways of restoring our democracy, strengthening people’s votes and voices, and empowering our communities.
Emily Blake – Labour Party
Goodness me, Brexit has been so incredibly divisive. The impact this vote has had is tremendous and in my opinion extremely negative. I completely understand those who feel that they haven’t been listened to and let down. From the get go lies were told so personally I am not surprised we are sat here still not having left after Boris Johnson promised brexit by the 31st of October. The complexity of the process was not touched on at all. Many people were unaware a ‘deal’ would have to be made at all and I think the government has a lot to answer for that. However I would like to assure people that if Labour win this election and a Labour leave is decided upon, it WILL happen. We can’t allow this to dwell into silence or apathy. We need to make our voices heard, and every voice is important on both sides. If we let this put us off of voting and trusting our politicians we only allow worse things to happen. We need to stick together, even though we have different views on what is best for the country, we need to remember that besides from Brexit we have a lot of important issues we need to address and take care of. We have some amazing politicians who truly want the best for us and work and fight for us, let’s’ support them so they can support us.
The other candidates are Liz Truss (Conservative) and Earl Elvis of Outwell (Monster Raving Loony).