Tag Archives: MPs

Plymouth High School hear from Plymouth’s Potential MPs

By Lacey Mannell

With a general election coming up in December, the political scene in England this year has been, arguably, hectic. With Brexit extensions and re-elections, it’s hard to tell what’s to come of Britain by 2020.

The students of Plymouth High School for Girls were offered the chance to hear from five representatives from the main political parties: Ann Widdecome for the Brexit Party, Rebecca Smith for the Conservative Party, James Ellwood for the Green Party, Luke Pollard for Labour and Graham Reed for the Liberal Democrats. All of them either grew up in Plymouth or had ties. They gave us an idea about what they stand for, as well as the parties they’re representing, with talks of the NHS, the importance of voting, and issues of mental health and advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community.

Starting off with an introduction, the representatives gave us an idea about what they stand for, what they could do for politics, and their parties. Ann Widdecombe stressed the importance of a quick and clean Brexit, a clean up of politics and an NHS that’s fit for the future. Rebecca didn’t give any information on the Conservative party’s policy, yet encouraged people to vote for a woman, as the unveiling of the Nancy Astor statue was coming up. James Ellwood put emphasis on climate change (fitting for the Green Party), and Luke Pollard addressed the importance of Plymouth in politics, and the funding of education, health and transport, whilst getting a dig at Ann about his homosexuality (“there is nothing I need to be cured of”). Graham Reed expressed his worries for our future, the burning of gas and bottom-up politics.

Ann Widdecombe made it painfully clear that the NHS is a big priority for the Brexit Party from the start (perhaps to the point of exaggeration) and how most of the parties were remaining quiet and brushing it under the carpet. It was another issue that came up when regarding the news of the 451 page document released by Corbyn, stating the NHS will be on the table following Brexit. Widdecome insisted that that’s not true, and the NHS will very much not be on the table, however she suggested it might’ve been an original deal that has been scrapped since.

This seemed to be a favourable topic, as it raised tensions with Rebecca Smith, accusing Labour of lying about the Conservatives privatising the NHS, “Labour is trying to con the British public”, whilst Pollard shook his head in disagreement. The whole panel agreed that they didn’t want the NHS sold, but some weren’t convinced it wouldn’t happen under the Conservatives, mainly Luke Pollard and James Ellwood; who found their parties agreed with a lot of points brought up. Ellwood also called out the Brexit Party, speaking directly at Ann Widdecombe, stating that a party without a manifesto or with very few points must have something to hide or is not prepared to get into power.

A question of LGBTQ+ youth and mental health arose, with Smith highlighting the importance of talking to youth services, and how she met with Pride Plymouth, Pollard emphasising working with the Transgender communtiy, Ellwood the importance of youth services and trauma informed policing with regards to mental health, and Reed favouring equal treatment for mental and physical health – like the Lib Dem manifesto. Widdecombe’s focus shifted more towards mental health and how social media and results day pressures can affect teens negatively, not mentioning the LGBTQ+ community at all.

Another topic that came up was refugees. All the parties could agree that it’s our country’s responsibility to help refugees, with Pollard even encouraging an increase of young refugee numbers. Widdecombe mentioned the Geneva 1951 Convention, which she said means a refugee fearing prosecution must be offered shelter by the first safe country they reach. Her issue was that “In this country we are getting people, and I don’t exaggerate when I say by the boatload or the lorryload, who have been in other safe countries”. She was questioned by a student who said that a main route for refugees is through Italy, where people are being exploited in the mafia, and how can that be deemed safe? She shut the argument down by stating that Italy signed the Geneva Convention, so therefore is a safe country.

Each of the representatives ended with a closing statement following the questions. James Ellwood focused on climate change, Luke Pollard encouraged people to vote in an “election like no other” where Reed encouraged us to vote for our future. Rebecca Smith warned that we’d be in debt with labour for the rest of our lives, and Ann Widdecombe ended by stating that all the parties offer change, but the Brexit Party offers something completely new, and to “vote for a future in which Britain will have control of Britain”.

Now it’s up to Plymouth to decide their next MP, and England to decide what party they want in control for a new decade.

Plymouth’s Three Musketeers: Who Represents Plymouth in Westminster?

By Tobias Chalcraft

Lacking in knowledge on Plymouth’s elected representatives in Westminster? If so, look no further than Generation Plymouth to give you a quick, non-biased summary of Plymouth’s three musketeers.

Plymouth is split into three different constituencies: Sutton & Devonport, Moor View & South West Devon. Plymouth Moor View covers the North of the city, South West Devon covers some of the East and Plymouth Sutton & Devonport covers the rest of Plymouth, including the city centre. Unlike cities such as Manchester or Bournemouth, which have been run by a single party for decades, our city likes to keep a more open mind when it comes to its politics.

Since 1997 the Conservatives and Labour parties have frequently struggled to hold Plymouth city council for longer than 3 years before being voted out of office, with the Tories’ tenure between 2007-2012 being the sole exception. This division is also represented in our MPs.

So, who are these three MPs representing Plymouth constituencies in Westminster? Firstly, Luke Pollard is the Labour Co-operative MP that has represented Plymouth Sutton & Devonport for the last two years, taking the seat from the Conservatives in 2017. In July 2018 Pollard joined Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet in a role shadowing the Conservative’s environmental policies; predominately flooding, coastal communities and fisheries. He has always voted against the government’s Brexit deal and argues the best solution to the Brexit deadlock is a second public vote, with remain as an option.

Pollard is a member of the transport select committee, which examines what the government gets up to in the Department of Transport. His current campaigns include making Plymouth Sound the first national marine park, extending the M5 further westwards and ensuring that the retired nuclear submarines in Devonport are recycled.

Representing Plymouth Moor View is Conservative backbencher Johnny Mercer, who has held the seat since the 2015 election, taking the seat off Labour. Earlier this year Mercer said he wouldn’t support the Conservative government until the prosecutions of Northern Ireland veterans are stopped. Since September 2017 Mercer has been a member of multiple defence committees and the Health & Social Care committee, which scrutinise both defence and health aspects of government actions respectively. His campaigns include persuading the government to have a newly commissioned navy fleet of type 26s based at Devonport and improving mental health services and veterans’ care.

Mercer voted against the government’s negotiated Brexit deal in the first parliamentary vote in January, but then switched to support the deal in the second and third ‘meaningful votes’. Furthermore, in the indicative votes that took place in March as a result of parliament seeking a solution to the Brexit deadlock that could receive a majority of MPs’ support, Mercer supported leaving the EU without a deal.

The third Plymothian musketeer is Sir Gary Streeter, Conservative backbencher MP for South West Devon. Streeter has held his seat since 1997, having held another Plymouth-based seat 1992-1997. Over his 27 years in parliament, Streeter has held multiple roles including shadowing Labour’s Secretary of State for International Development (1998-2001).

Sir Gary currently sits on the Panel of Chairs, committee of Privileges and committee on Standards, and has sat on Environment and Home Affairs committees in the past. Streeter supports leaving the EU with a deal, having supported the aforementioned deal in all three votes. Campaigns supported by the Devon MP include moving more troops to his constituency, increasing funding for local schools and improving rail links in the South West.

So, there we have it, a simple overview of the three Plymouth MPs. Although our three musketeers don’t necessarily see eye-to-eye on most topics, our unique city is represented by people from somewhat differing backgrounds, political parties and even views on Brexit – would you believe it?

Do you know who your MP is? Head to https://www.theyworkforyou.com to find out who represents you and see their voting record to help you decide if they deserve your vote at the next election.