General Election 2019: In Conversation With: Luke Pollard
By Tobias Chalcraft
As part of Generation Plymouth’s ongoing election coverage, we asked Luke Pollard some important questions on various topics from climate change to decommissioned nuclear submarines. There’s even a discussion on Jaffa Cakes.
Luke is Labour’s PPC (Prospective Parliamentary Candidate) for Plymouth Sutton & Devonport, fighting to retain the seat that he only won from the Conservatives in the 2017 election.
“How do you feel you would best represent Plymouth’s young people as the MP for Plymouth Sutton & Devonport?”
Luke starts by arguing that “the best way to represent any group is to take time to listen and engage” before highlighting his regular meetings with Plymouth’s MYPs (Members of Youth Parliament), with one MYP even contributing articles to his white papers regarding Plymouth’s future on his website. He also mentions his young people’s Brexit summit, which he hosted soon after his election in 2017, and his frequent Q&As in schools and colleges as good ways for him to share his opinions and to learn from Plymouth’s young people. He finishes his point by advocating a lowered voting age, in order for younger people to have a louder voice.
“Do you feel Labour has done enough to promote the fight against Climate Change?”
Luke lists his credentials as a member of Labour’s Environment Team and Shadow Environmental Minister, which ensures that he frequently speaks about climate change. He adds that the parliamentary declaration of a climate emergency was a Labour motion, which was put forward by its leader Jeremy Corbyn. He then says he is proud to support the de-escalation of the use of diesel & petrol engines and hydro-generated power. He concludes his answer by saying “Climate change is the biggest challenge facing our planet and more of the same won’t cut it, we need transformative change and fast too”.
“Do you believe the vote should be extended to those aged 16 and 17? If so, what do you believe this expanding of the electorate will achieve?”
His answer has a straightforward start: “Yes. I am the only Plymouth MP to have voted for lowering the voting age and I am proud to continue to make the case for young people to be heard”. He then outlines the cuts in public services, including mental health support and education, which have had an impact on young people, before arguing that “If young people had the right to vote I don’t think those in power would be able to ignore them”. He finishes by committing to further support for votes at 16.
“What is the progress of your campaign to have the decommissioned nuclear submarines in Devonport recycled?”
Luke says this is one of his “passions and key campaigns” before divulging into how Plymouth has accepted a “poor deal” through its undisputed acceptance of old nuclear submarines.
“My old man served on many of the submarines that are now retired in Devonport when he was in the Royal Navy. The submarine service is a really important part of the Royal Navy, but we cannot simply tie up and forget about these subs”. Due to previously being an MP outside of government, Luke explains that he used his position in order to spread awareness and propose solutions to the recycling of these submarines.
He concludes by saying “I’m proud to be the first MP to do this and I am now leading a cross-party campaign to properly fund the recycling of these old submarines. It may take some time, but the first challenge is to let people know they exist – once you know Devonport has 13 old nuclear submarines tied up – then you are forced to think about how to recycle them. I won’t stop until a properly funded recycling programme has begun.”
“As a ‘big fan of cake’ yourself, are ‘Jaffa Cakes’ biscuits or cakes?”
Starting off with the neutral response of “I love Jaffa Cakes”, Luke then moves his response towards taxation:
“Personally, I don’t mind what type of food they’re labelled as long as people can afford them but at the moment Jaffa Cakes are a luxury not every family in Plymouth can afford”. He points out speeches in Westminster and his experience with the soup run as some of his personal efforts to combat food poverty. He completes his response by saying “we need to get real and address the fundamental problem here: people cannot afford food for themselves and their families. That’s shameful in 2019 and something I will not accept”.