Leeds West general election Green Party candidate Andrew Pointon, answers readers’ questions ahead of the election. A full list of candidates and their responses can be found here.
1. What is your party going to do to make sure my kids have good educational opportunities?
My role as a trade union convenor supporting staff like teaching assistants has meant I have seen first-hand the effects government cuts have had on schools.
There are growing numbers of redundancies and increased sickness due to stress because of increased workloads. None of this is good for our children. The Green Party will properly fund our schools so real term spending per pupil increases and is protected.
We would address the crisis of teacher workload, with measures such as abolishing Ofsted, and reforming the curriculum so that it is pupil-centred, freeing up teachers to teach, while abolish SATS and reducing class sizes.
Our policy is to ensure that every child with Special Educational Needs or Disability has access to a mainstream education, in accordance with the UN Convention for Persons with Disabilities.
To restore accountability we will bring Academies and Free Schools into the local authority system. Greens want to restore the Education Maintenance Allowance and enable apprenticeships to all qualified young people aged 16-25, and to scrap university tuition fees, fund full student grants and provide greater public investment in further and higher education.
I am passionate about education and if elected I will strive with fellow Green MPs to bring about these policies.
2. What is your stance on the three million EU citizens living in the UK?
The Green Party supported the Remain campaign and continues to believe that membership of the EU makes our future more hopeful and secure.
We will demand that the terms of the final deal are closely scrutinised.
We do not accept that either a “hard” Brexit or an exit from the EU without a deal is in the interests of the British people.
We will be actively campaigning to safeguard jobs, uphold basic rights and put environmental protection at the heart of any future trade deals.
I believe that our public services like the NHS rely on the skills of people who have migrated to the UK. The Green Party would immediately guarantee the rights of EU citizens to remain in the UK and urgently seek reciprocal arrangements for UK citizens in the EU. I agree with this and if elected I would support that position.
3. What would you do to support Social Care in our area, particularly foster care, in a climate of cuts that are seeing fewer workers caring for more children?
My role as a trade union convenor involved me supporting members in the council’s Children’s Services department so I have directly seen the impact on cuts to social care and the immense pressure put on social workers.
Many are now overloaded with cases, swamped with the paperwork, and as a result have less time to visit families and safeguard vulnerable children.
Vast sums are spent providing care for children outside of Leeds all over the country because the necessary specialist provision no longer exists or is full. The Green Party would start with reversing the cuts and increasing funding for local authorities so they can provide good quality public services and invest in our communities.
We’d also make major investment in social care for the elderly and all those who need it. The Green party believes that services for children need to be holistic and integrated, recognising both the needs of the child and their families and carers which in the long term will produce a healthier, more balanced and secure society, with reduced costs in criminal justice, social services and other areas of spending.
A wide range of support services will accompany any fostering arrangement, including financial help, respite care and emergency phone-line. Having worked in public services for over 22 years and seeing what a vital role they play in people’s lives, I would as an MP do all I can to see these Green policies enacted.
4. What will you do to give young people the very best opportunities in life, to help them prepare for uncertain futures in a global world economy?
If elected I would work to fulfil the Green Party promise to young people, written by young people, namely that we will invest in education and opportunities, alongside lowering the voting age, protect the environment, tackle the housing crisis and build a strong economy.
We want to build a better, more positive future for everyone and in particular for young people. We want that future to be safer, happier, more equal and more secure.
The Green Party want to protect opportunities for young people in work and education by relieving students of the burden of debt, scrapping tuition fees and restoring living grants, restoring the Education Maintenance Allowance and enabling apprenticeships to all qualified young people aged 16-25.
Furthermore we’d seek to guarantee the rights of young people to study, work, live and travel in the EU, including through schemes like Erasmus. Greens want to create a fairer working world for young people by scrapping age-related wage bands and raising the national minimum wage to living wage levels for all.
We intend to protect young people’s housing needs by reinstating housing benefit for under-21s, and investing in community house-building projects to provide affordable, secure housing options for young people. Young people are often ignored by politicians and many sadly see little point in voting.
To try to rectify that Greens want to enable every young person to take an active role in democracy, introducing non-biased political education and promoting active citizenship, as well as lowering the voting age to 16. Giving young people a greater say will help them shape the opportunities and the future that they will experience.
5. When do candidates see austerity coming to an end and living standards and security improving?
Austerity is a political choice not an economic necessity. It was the Coalition government’s response to an economic situation brought about banks and financial institutions.
There were alternatives to austerity but governments since 2010 used this as an opportunity to impose their political philosophy. If you want austerity to definitely end, elect a Green government.
A Green government would end austerity and restore the public sector, creating over one million good jobs that pay at least a living wage and you can build a life on.
We’d pay for this with a new wealth tax on the top 1%, a Robin Hood Tax on the banks and the closure of tax loopholes. We’d also increase the minimum wage to reach a living wage of £10 an hour by 2020.
If the Conservatives are returned as the government I’d expect austerity to continue for several more years until the public sector is completely destroyed and the NHS is sold off, and living standards are even lower than they are now.
A “hard Brexit” deal could see living standards and job security fall further. Other parties have supported various levels of austerity measures in recent years, the Greens have consistently said there was no need for austerity and it must be ended. As a Green MP I would fight to bring about a swift end to austerity measures.
200 words why readers should vote for you / your party:
One huge issue is missing in this General Election – climate change.
If we do not solve the environmental problems this planet faces everything else like the economy, education, healthcare etc becomes irrelevant if our world cannot sustain human life. The Green Party is a positive change.
We have policies to help improve the lives of ordinary people and make sure we pass on a decent planet for our children and grandchildren to live in. My job sees me helping people and doing casework. I can use that experience to represent you in Parliament, sorting out your issues, and trying to get the best for Leeds West.
The time has come to change the way we have been doing things and change those who have been making the decisions.
Greens offer policies for the common good, where fairness replaces greed.
We want to look after the 99% not the highest earning 1%. We need to build a better society based on hope, not on fear. We are in politics for you and the planet, not for ourselves.
Voting Green is voting for politics based on principles and trying to make a genuine difference.
Find out more at: https://leedswestgreenparty.wordpress.com/