Election Special – The Mass Debate

Candy Press - Leaders Debate

THIS coming Thursday is a pivotal day – with the start of the Isle of Wight Festival promising a weekend of fun and frolics for many.

Also happening this Thursday is a General Erection, or something, but it’s apparently very important and so we decided to invite the main contestants to a basement in a secure location, and ask them some questions.

Labour, the Greens, and Independents all very kindly agreed to take part, the Conservatives and Lib Dems refused to answer and evaded our kidnappers, and no-one wanted to invite the racist UKIP anyway.

We can excuse the Lib Dems as Nick Belfitt’s mum sent a note saying he had homework to do and as he hadn’t yet tidied his room, he wasn’t allowed out to play later either.

As the Tories are the majority vote on the Island, we decided they needed representation so got one of our tech geniuses to build a SeelyBot, which is connected to the Tory online hive and should give the answers as Bob Seely (probably) would have.

Editor: Firstly, thanks to each of you for coming at such short notice. Julian, apologies about the blindfold.

Vix Lowthian: Pleasure to be sat here answering questions rather than be out in the rain. Thanks for the excuse!

Julian Critchley: No problem. It’s election time: I’d turn up to the opening of a can of beans.

SeelyBot: Strong & stable.

Editor: Why do the Conservatives plan to use photo ID as a way to prevent 3.5 million people from voting in future elections under the guise of ‘preventing electoral fraud’, even though their party was fined £70k (the maximum) for actual electoral irregularities? 

Isn’t this a massive threat to democracy in this country, and does it not prove that the Tories have no respect for the British values that they claim to espouse?

Vix Lowthian: Because they are only interested in democracy if it excludes people who won’t vote Conservative. I already know many who won’t even register to vote as it is, because they worry about credit ratings and being flagged up by authorities. And they are least likely to vote for the establishment.

Julie Jones-Evans: I would make voting compulsory as they do in Greece and Australia. Also votes from 16. You can’t make it more difficult to vote. It’s the system we have and we should use it to effect change rather than the status quo which serves the establishment.

Julian Critchley: For the same reasons they won’t lower the voting age, and for the same reasons they’ve made registration of younger people and renters harder. They’d rather people didn’t have the chance to vote against them.

SeelyBot: Let me be very clear that this is a crucial election for this country.

Editor: In Parliament, if there was a whipped vote on an issue that would be damaging for the IW, would you put your party’s interests first or the IW Community?

Vix Lowthian: Green Party policy is to never have whipped votes – we stand on our policies which are exclusively determined by member votes and our consciences and what’s best for our constituency whether at a national or a local level. So I’d always put the Island first.

SeelyBot: That’s a very important question; let me be absolutely clear that I would be in the strongest possible position to ensure further damage to the IW.

Julie Jones-Evans: Easy, I would only serve the Island as the truly Independent MP. Others may pretend to put the IW first, but you can’t serve two masters…

Julian Critchley: I don’t believe any of the Labour Party’s policies are damaging for the Isle of Wight – they all help us here. So it’s not a problem which will arise.

Editor: Julie, as an independent, do you ever see a time the Island can be truly independent like say, the Isle of Man?

Julie Jones-Evans: We can claim more for ourselves and do things our way, not necessarily going it alone as the United States of Wight. Our IW £ is a good example of keeping our wealth circulating and supporting each other.

Editor: If your party came to power, would you support or condemn internment of any groups of people in society and why?

Vix Lowthian: Internment should only be a part of a clear and open judicial process, such as the justice system, and not used to attack or limit the freedoms of any parts of society.

Julian Critchley: I’m an ex-history teacher, and I use to teach a unit on Northern Ireland. Internment was one of the most disastrous mistakes made by the British government in Northern Ireland. We can’t defend a free liberal democracy by suspending freedoms and liberal democracy.

SeelyBot: Anyone who doesn’t vote Conservative is a threat to our democracy, our peace, and our way of life.

Julie Jones-Evans: I don’t think I will be in charge of the country. Do you mean not having prisons or are you referring to Guantanamo Bay style internment? Are we talking refugees or terrorists?

Editor: Never mind… onto arms sales to Saudi Arabia, your views?

Vix Lowthian: No. Just no! We should be leading the way with an ethical foreign policy as one of the UN Security Council permanent members. It’s appalling that we continue to sell arms, and sell arms to such repressive regimes.

Julie Jones-Evans: Let’s get this out in the open and see the report David Cameron commissioned on funding jihadism.

Julian Critchley: Stop them.

SeelyBot: Jeremy Corbyn supported the IRA!

Editor: If there was a vote to increase or decrease to funding of the UK armed forces, how would you vote?

Julian Critchley: Depends. If it involved spending more on British-made kit, employing more servicemen, building ships here etc, then I’d support it if the money was available. If it was used for buying more nuclear missiles from the Americans, then not so much.

SeelyBot: A strong military is only possible with a strong economy, and Jeremy Corbyn would put both at risk if he makes it to Downing Street, propped up by the Lib Dems and SNP, in a coalition of chaos.

Vix Lowthian: The priority for our armed forces must be defensive and not offensive, and funding should reflect this. They should be used as peace keepers and aggression must be a last resort. I would rather our Defence budget fully equipped our existing forces, conventional and a strong intelligence led approach, than chase increasing the amount of missiles we have in stock. So it would entirely depend on the detail of the proposals for that budget.

Julie Jones-Evans: If people are willing to risk their lives to protect us they should have the best training, equipment and care after they leave the services.

Editor: Would you nuke millions of people in order to look like a strong leader?

Julie Jones-Evans: I’m more of let’s have a cup of tea and talk about it kinda person, less strong and stable, more kitchen table.

Vix Lowthian: No.

SeelyBot: We have made it very clear that you can’t rule out the use of nuclear weapons as a first strike.

Julian Critchley: No. I have many flaws, but being a mass-murdering psychopath isn’t one of them.

Editor: What about nuking East Cowes?

SeelyBot: The whole point about the deterrent is that you have got to leave uncertainty in the mind of anyone who might be thinking of using weapons against this country, nuking East Cowes would show we are serious about their use.

Editor: Does Austerity work, and can you cite any way it has helped us if yes?

Julie Jones-Evans: It may have worked for people with lots of money and those about to hoover up the NHS estate. Check out the Naylor Report My measure is how much food gets given away on the Island at Food Bank, four tonnes a month, massive increase since 2012, I’ve been a volunteer since then.

Julian Critchley: No, and no.

SeelyBot: Our economy is strong and stable, just please ignore that we’ve doubled the national debt to £1.7trillion and borrowed more than all labour governments put together.

Vix Lowthian: No. It causes a huge amount of suffering, limits opportunities, damages communities and reduces our economic potential.

Editor: What is your position on fox hunting?

SeelyBot: Kill!

Julie Jones-Evans: Outdated and not what civilised society should think is a jolly wheeze

Julian Critchley: A deeply stupid and cruel ritual. If I could find a way of arming foxes, I probably would.

Vix Lowthian: NO! Why are we even considering bringing this back? If anything, we need to increase the strength of the Act.

Editor:  What are your thoughts about the connection between animal agriculture and climate change?

Julian Critchley: This is a question about cows breaking wind, isn’t it? Nobody told me running for Parliament was going to be so glamorous.

SeelyBot: Conspiracy theories designed to harm us by Russia & Putin.

Vix Lowthian: This is such a good point – beef industry in particular contributes huge amounts of CH4 (methane… parp) which directly contributes to the effects of global warming, as well as reducing the land space to grow crops for people to eat. However, we cannot change this overnight. We need to use education and initiatives to reduce society’s meat consumption and ensure animals are humanely treated and looked after.

Julie Jones-Evans: Are we talking Methane? Vegetarians of the world unite and take over…

Editor: Do you support the legalisation of cannabis for medicinal use?

Julian Critchley: Yes.

SeelyBot: I support 25 year jail terms for possession.

Vix Lowthian: Yes. It’s been party policy for many years.

Julie Jones-Evans: Yep.

Editor: What will make you be a better MP for the Island than our last one?

Julie Jones-Evans: I’m not a career politician, just a normal person who wants to make life better for us. Remember amateurs built the Ark, professionals built the Titanic.

SeelyBot: Our last Conservative MP was a long servant of the party, and this Island, and should be given the respect he deserves. He helped create a strong and stable Island for our children’s children.

Julian Critchley: (1) I’d be a Labour MP, not a Tory and (2) I’m not a homophobic bigot.

Vix Lowthian: I’ve spent over 2 years since the last election speaking up for Islanders, travelling the country at conferences on education, on national radio and television about the Isle of Wight. And doing all this whilst holding down my teaching job (just!) and 3 terrific boys to care for. Being able to do all of this full time would be an absolute pleasure.

Editor: But Vix, didn’t the Greens ruin Brighton?

Vix Lowthian: Ha! No – I don’t see a ruined Brighton. I see a positive, diverse and popular city on the coast with a clear identity and sense of community. That’s exactly what the island can be like – if only we work for it, together.

Editor: What are your thoughts on fracking?

Julian Critchley: Ban it.

SeelyBot: The shareholders love it, so do we.

Vix Lowthian: NO! No no! Not here on the Island. Not anywhere! We need to leave 80% of fossil fuels in the ground, and in 2017 we must be investing in clean, renewable technology for our futures.

Julie Jones-Evans: I try not to think about it, it’s scary

Editor: What’s your opinion on the fixed link?

Vix Lowthian: Totally understand why it’s got traction, because Islanders feel trapped by the activities of private ferry companies, and are looking for a way to ‘take back control’. I have many questions about our hospital, housing, roads, schools, jobs and environment – and would like to see a full study on all Cross-Solent transport to find a way forward which balances connectivity and protection for our island.

Julian Critchley: Only an Island-wide referendum can decide on that. It’s not party political. My personal opinion tends to vary depending on whether I’m on the top deck of the ferry in the sun, or whether I’m stuck in the carpark in Fishbourne waiting hours for a cancelled service.

SeelyBot: We must invest further public funds in private companies to ensure the continual decline in services and hikes in prices. This is the only way to build a strong, efficient, and stable transport infrastructure.

Julie Jones-Evans: I’m warming to the idea of a giant floating bridge.

Editor: Why was funding for school patrol crossings axed?

Vix Lowthian: Because local government have had their funding reduced by national government. It’s messed up when we can find money as a country to wage war in other nations, but not enough for lollipop ladies and gents. Where are our priorities?

Julie Jones-Evans: Austerity and with cuts to school funding kids will all be home educated in the future and won’t need the patrols.

Julian Critchley: Because of Tory cuts.

SeelyBot: *cough* Labour did it.

Editor: Name the Floating Bridge.

Vix Lowthian: So many options! Many with real gravitas and many with zero! I’m opting for the Minghella MacArthur.

SeelyBot: The Theresa May – Strong & Stable

Julie Jones-Evans: Mind The Gap.

Julian Critchley: HMS Cock up.

Editor: Which is the better designed classic Italian scooter …… Vespa or Lambretta?

Vix Lowthian: Einy meany miny moe…. Vespa.

Julie Jones-Evans: Vespa.

Julian Critchley: Literally no idea.

SeelyBot: Which one is stronger and more stable?

Editor: Corrie’s Cabin or Chip Ahoy?

Vix Lowthian: Rainbow in Freshwater!

SeelyBot: Chips are for peasants.

Julian Critchley: The Codfather in Ryde, just for the name.

Julie Jones-Evans: Corrie’s always delivers a chip of quality.

Editor: I’ve got this nasty rash… what should I do?

Vix Lowthian: Get some aqueous cream and make some phone calls….

SeelyBot: Take out a bank loan, call the doctor.

Julian Critchley: Stop voting Tory.

Julie Jones-Evans: Don’t go to the doctors as they are all being privatised, buy some yogurt and apply liberally.

Editor: Why should you get my vote?

Vix Lowthian: Votes are incredibly precious, fought for by generations before us. If you want a strong voice for the island, not in danger of big party pressures, which puts the island environment first, and looks for a cleaner, greener and frankly more exciting future, then please #votevix on Thursday.

SeelyBot: I’m very clear that this is a clearly very crucial election for this country, Brexit will make all of my friends richer, so vote Tory!

Julie Jones-Evans: Because I’m asking nicely, not shouting and getting stroppy.

Julian Critchley: Because of our manifesto. Labour’s offering the first alternative vision of Britain since 1979. Chances like these don’t come along too often. Don’t miss the opportunity.

Editor: Thanks to all of you for taking part. To our readers, please remember to get out and vote this Thursday, our country, indeed our little Island is at a crossroads – you really do have the power to decide the direction we go next.

That’s no joke.

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