PARLIAMENT has dissolved and the starting gun has been fired for the 2015 General Election campaign. CHLOE MOSDELL takes a look at the runners and riders standing for the Canterbury and Whitstable constituency.
Julian Brazier, Conservative
Key pledge: Mr Brazier takes a strong interest in the transport issues facing Britain today and has past experience of working closely on a variety of transport issues when he served as a Shadow Minister in the Department for Transport between 2005 and 2010. Mr Brazier has pressed for improving the standards of safety in local communities, responding to various constituents complaints about the barriers at the Sturry rail crossing and the Network Rail closure of Horton crossing. Most recently, he has take a close interest in the closure of Gorrell Car Park, forced by safety concerns, pressing for alternatives to be explored, after it emerged local traders and licensed premises in Whitstable High Street and elsewhere in the town were suffering severe losses of sales.
Background: Mr Brazier has won every general election in Canterbury since 1987, even through the party’s post-Thatcher slump, and the rise of New Labour. But, that doesn’t mean he’s always been unshakeable; he’s won elections with as little as 38 per cent of the vote.
Jim Gascoyne, Ukip
Key Pledge: He says the Ukip team in Canterbury, Whitstable and the villages are committed to a better Britain. One that is modern, optimistic and fair for all. A Britain that respects its workers and protects its NHS, and a council that listens to its residents, with councillors that serve the needs of the residents the represent.
Background: Mr Gascoyne was elected chairman in May 2013. He works as a business coach, is a member of Chaucer Public Speaking Club and is qualified to be a Canterbury City guide.
James Flanagan, Lib Dem
Key pledge: Mr Flanagan is pushing for better governance of the local council and helping to protect the areas remaining open spaces. He has opposed Conservative plans to build 4,000 new houses on greenfield and farming land in South Canterbury, and believes any new houses should be built on brownfield sites first.
Background: Mr Flanagan was born and raised in Canterbury, and joined the party in 1991 when he heard of the Liberal Democrat goal to lower the voting age to 16. After University, and a brief period of working outside Canterbury, he returned to his roots and began campaigning for the local Liberal Democrats. He was elected as a City Councillor for Westgate Ward in 2007 and re-elected in 2011, and he now serves as the Party’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate.
Hugh Lanning, Labour
Key pledge: Mr Lanning has endorsed Labour’s promise to protect the NHS, schools and higher education, stating: “There should be no more privatisation of our public services. Our health and education systems should be organised around us.” The needs of the people using the services should come first. Having lived in the constituency for 19 years, Mr Lanning said he knows what a “great place” it is — rich and diverse in culture, history and landscape. For him, politics is about making life “better for the people you represent”.
Background: Mr Lanning has been a Labour Party member since the early 1970s, and for 20 years he was a senior official of the Public and Commercial Services Union, most recently as deputy general secretary.
Robert Cox, Socialist Party of Great Britain
Key pledges: The party stands for the sole aim of establishing of removing the current capitalist model and establishing a global system in which there will be common ownership and democratic control of the world’s natural and industrial resources. They want every person to have an equal say in how their society is run, and a world in which production is freed from the artificial constraints of profit and used for the benefit of all.
Background: Mr Cox is currently a member of the Socialist Party’s Kent and Sussex branch. He is one of ten candidates lighting it out for a seat in Parliament.
Stuart Jeffery, Green Party
Key pledges: Citing the perceived widening gap between the rich and poor In society, Mr Jeffery said he will fight in Parliament for wealth distribution to ensure any improvement in the economy will filter down While the rich get richer under the Lib Dems and Tories, the rest of us are getting poorer and those who are most vulnerable are really suffering. The austerity measures are simply an assault on the most vulnerable members of society. As a huge supporter of a wealth tax, I will continue to fight for real wealth distribution to make our society fairer.
Background: Mr Jeffery has lived in Kent all his life and studied at Canterbury Christ Church University for five years. He is a qualified nurse and currently a NHS manager. Stuart became interested in Green politics in his teens, originally joining CND and the Green Party (or the Ecology Party as it was then called) in 1983. Now no longer in his teens, Stuart is again a member of the Green Party and campaigns on many environmental and social issues.
Battle to be fought against long-serving MP in North Thanet
FIVE candidates are battling it out for the North Thanet constituency, mainly comprised of Margate and surrounding villages but also including Herne Bay. The seat has been held by Conservative Sir Roger Gale since 1983.
• Sir Roger Gale, Conservative Party
Key pledges: Sir Roger has previously backed the town’s regeneration plans and the efforts of the market. He is known for his commitment to animal welfare
Background: A vastly experienced MP, he has also been something of a high-flyer, with roles as vice-chairman of the Conservatives and chairman of the All-Party Animal Welfare Group
• George Cunningham, Liberal Democrats
Key pledges: To invest in Herne Bay to ‘rejuvenate the town’ and to focus on improving the employment prospects
Background: A former British Army officer, businessman and diplomat, Mr Cunningham is now vice-chairman of the Lib Dem branch in Brussels and Europe
• Frances Rehal, Labour
Key pledges: Mrs Rehal wants to promote fairness across the constituency by encouraging employers to pay the living wage and ending zero hours contracts
Background: A former health visitor, she prides herself on having developed Kent’s first Sure Start centre and was made an MBE for services to children and families
• Ed Targett, Green Party
Key pledges: To abolish council tax and business rates and replace them with a Land Value Tax and to raise awareness of services at Queen Victoria Hospital
Background: Mr Targett is the first Green Party candidate for more than 20 years. The 31-year-old former local journalist and father-of-two grew up in Herne Bay
• Piers Wauchope, Ukip
Key pledges: Has promised to deliver the much-needed changes he says Herne Bay needs after 32 years under the Conservatives
Background: A barrister and Tunbridge Wells councillor since 2012, MrWauchope contested Hampstead and Highgate for the Conservative Party in 2005 and stood as Kent Police Commissioner for Ukip back in 2012
Herne Bay Times, April 1st 2015