The Speaker's Chair
We asked every party leader the same set of questions.
This is how they responded17 August 2019
In advance of the upcoming general election, we reached out to all leaders of major national political parties, and asked them the same set of six questions. Here are their responses.
Who we asked
- Arfamis, Leader of the Green Party
- Boris Cromwell was spokesperson for the British Anarchist Party until its dissolution. His comments are reported here for posterity.
- Ashley K. Fletcher, Leader of the Liberal Democrats
- Dafydd Llwyd, Leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party
- (name), Leader of the Progressive Democrats
- Peter Nordquist, Leader of the Labour Party
If elected, how would your government combat climate change?
Arfamis: Of course, this would be the singlemost priority of a Green Party government. We would make decisive and simple main movements to do this. The greatest source of carbon emissions, the energy industry, would be encouraged to move from fossil fuels to renewable energies. The government would achieve this by assinging increasingly large subsidies to renewable energies as required, while providing free training in renewable energy jobs to current employees of the fossil fuel industry.
Additionally, the government would diplomatically seek to contribute to international renewable energy projects, as well as communicating with France to help protect jobs at Britain's current nuclear power plants— although the Green Party has members that represent both pro and anti nuclear power thought, so any expansion of our nuclear power industry would be debated.
A Green Party government would realise the vital, indispensible important of Britain's research and science industry in the battle against climate change. We would provide grants to universities and researchers for any technologies that would be of assistance, from upcoming renewable energy sources to electric or hybrid car designs. As a side benefit of halting the advance of climate change, we believe Britain can carve itself a prosperous future as a world leader in such science.
Cromwell: First, we would make multiple taxes like a carbon tax, to financially incentivize companies to use green energy. In addition, we will promote green energy through campaigns, help various local and international projects relating to green energy, such as building wind/solar/nuclear power stations, as well as support start-ups that innovate in the green energy field, such as electric cars and more efficient power stations. Obiviously, we would like to act radically (as in bans on everything and such), but we can't do that without reasonable backlash. My government isn't dependent on me alone, we will all discuss together and come to a conclusion as to what we should do. However, we do want to spend a lot of resources to ensure a green climate to our next generations and have a green earth.
Fletcher: Under a Liberal Democratic government, we will push forward the phase out of coal as soon as possible to ensure Britain becomes as clean as we can as quickly as we can. We will also support tougher restrictions on emissions, as well as to promote the creation of off shore wind power, something that should not be illegal in this country when we are fighting such a crucial issue.
Llwyd: When future generations look back on us, they'll say that the defining struggle of our era was the climate emergency. Our plan revolves around massively expanding the clean energy industry, including funding for nuclear, wind, and other renewables. We're on track to beat the 2025 target for phasing out coal power in the UK with a few years to spare, and clean energy will achieve that while protecting jobs in rural areas and boosting the economy. I am also strongly opposed to expanding airports, with all the pollution, noise and ugliness that that would bring.
(name): As we have shown in the past, we wish to further implement measures such as a Carbon Tax, along with public and foreign outreach to further extend our effort on the world’s stage, along with other nations.
Nordquist: A Labour government would put climate change front and centre as part of our economic policy, ensuring that we reduce emissions by targeting the largest culprits - large corporations flouting regulations, and the wealthy few. We would end the prioritisation of profit over protecting the climate, and explore the avenue of a progressive flight tax for frequent fliers, as 70% of flights are taken by the richest 15% of people, who collectively spew millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. It’s also important that Britons are incentivised to ditch the car in favour of an improved, nationalised public transport service across the country, or switching to the bike when possible, mirroring the progress that has been made in urban areas such as London and Manchester. Furthermore, as part of our initiative to take back public control of Britain’s energy network, we would work to reduce our reliance on coal and natural gas, and explore the expansion of safe and renewable alternatives such as wind, solar and nuclear power.
Who is your hero, and why?
Arfamis: Well, I suppose to keep it relevant I would say David Attenborough: aside from his tremendous contributions to science, he's a perfect example of a figure who bridges the gap between politics and conservation, as powerfully recently seen in the worldwide plastic bans following his activism. I think we can all appreciate the immense positive impact that man has had regardless of our political positions.
Cromwell: Thom Yorke. Personally, he holds a lot of values that I have, he's also generally a great person, and has been significant for me personally. Without his music, I couldn't get through a lot of life to this point.
Fletcher: My hero would be William Gladstone, for his extensive career in expanding Liberal politics in this country, and standing firm for his beliefs and his convictions. Only through his sheer willpower and political courage was he able to shape British society for the better.
Llwyd: Apart from, of course, my wonderful mum and dad, one of my biggest inspirations has to be Charles Dickens. Not only one of Britain's greatest writers, he did so much to change British society for the benefit of the common folk, which I think is so inspiring.
(name): My personal hero is my dog, Atlas. While that may not be the expected answer, I do have a reason behind it. At the core, all of us have something that we dislike, something we shy away from. That is fine, that is human, it gives us something to strive for. To be better. A Dog, though, doesn’t have that. A Dog has Good traits without the Bad. A Dog is Loyal, Kind, Protective, and Loving. ((name) provided a picture of Atlas, which can be found here: On-site, low res / Externally hosted, high res)
Nordquist: My personal hero would, without a doubt, be Clement Attlee, the Labour Prime Minister who rebuilt this country after the devastation of WWII. His government championed the cause of the working poor, and introduced the NHS which remains Britain’s most cherished public institution today. Against near-insurmountable challenges, he introduced unemployment pay, maternity leave, and child benefit, raised the school leaving age, and successfully nationalised British industries that had been decimated in the decade prior. His achievements in government have not been parallelled by any peacetime prime minister, before or since.
What would your government's approach to EU relations be?
Arfamis: The Brexit scare certainly diplomatically shook up Britain's ties with the rest of the EU, but we now need to return to a comfortable and friendly disposition with them without any bad blood. The Green Party believes that the fight for the environment is one that must be undertaken internationally, and we of course also realise the economic and social benefits of maintaining an amiable relationship with Europe. That said, there were many criticisms of the EU from the Leave side that were perfectly reasonable and noteworthy, and we certainly need to push for reforms within the EU to remedy these, to protect the environment and British industries.
Cromwell: We are generally supportive of the EU, however, since we are anarchists, we'd like for it too to be an anarchy. But at the moment, we would be very cooperative for them, as it's more beneficial for the UK.
Fletcher: It's no secret that Brexit has deeply damaged out trust with the EU. While we may have chosen to Remain, we need to double our commitment to the European Union. The United Kingdom is better off when we work with our European partners, not shun them and resist the positive changes we have seen. There remains a place for Britain in Europe, and for Europe in Britain.
Llwyd: The result of the second referendum is bound to cause division in this country, having been decided by less than half a percent, but I think now is the time for both sides to show a level of maturity. My government would continue to work with the EU to secure the highest level of autonomy possible for Britain, through the EU affairs office we have recently established, while still remaining a member. I hope this is an issue we can more or less put to rest for the near future.
(name): Obviously, positive. We, the Progressive Democrats, were at the forefront of the fight to stay within the EU. We seek to heal the soured relations between ourselves and the rest of Europe, seeking further levels of integration to ensure such a disaster does not get near once more.
Nordquist: The EU is the UK’s closest partner, and Labour in government would maintain our close economic and political ties to fellow member states. In particular, Labour would work to repair the damage wrought by the failed Brexit period - but we would respect that nearly half of the country still voted to leave, ensuring that the UK maintains its unique position in the union with regards to Schengen and the Euro. Labour also looks forward to working with our friends in the PES towards a fairer, socialist and more democratic Union.
What is your favourite ice cream flavour, and how do you eat it?
Arfamis: Baobab - it tastes a bit like sherbet. And you can't beat ice cream from a cone!
Cromwell: You know those coal flavors? Yeah, those. Also vanilla. As for eating, I eat ice cream with my bare hands, motherfucker.
Fletcher: Strawberry, in a cone and with sprinkles.
Llwyd: I was always a fan of mint choc chip as a kid, but nowadays I find myself warming to a nice caramel. (Llwyd declined to comment on his preferred method of consumption.)
(name): Mint Chip is a delicious flavour, and I eat it with a spoon.
Nordquist: I would have to say that my favourite ice cream flavour is pear and chocolate, although I can be partial to a good pistachio. I generally opt for a tub (with one of those little plastic spades) - I find you often get more ice cream that way.
Are you open to reform of the House of Lords?
Arfamis: Well, personally I am certainly open to suggestions for reform. I can't say the current system has proven itself to be undemocratic, but I do understand the side of it being so in principle. The main worry I have, though, is that any suggestion for such would require a very clear cut, non-ambiguous plan to allow a smooth and safe transition through this dramatic reform. Any such reform would definitely go through a lot of scrutiny before it could happen.
Cromwell: To be fair, I have no idea what's wrong with it. But if it necessites, sure.
Fletcher: The Liberal Democrats have always been at the forefront of supporting political reforms in this country, even seeking the formation of a formal constitution. We are absolutely open to reforms to the House of Lords.
Llwyd: The House of Lords is an ancient and important part of Parliament, but the system of hereditary peers is a rather embarrassing thing for a modern democracy to have in my view. I'd like to encourage a public dialogue about if and how we should reform the House of Lords, perhaps including a referendum.
Nordquist: Absolutely - I think it’s abundantly clear that this country’s political system is often outdated and needlessly complicated. In government, Labour would form a commission to explore alternatives to the current system of life peers, including the unicameral option as is prevalent in Scandinavian monarchies. I would even go further - reform of the Lords would only be the first step in establishing a codified UK constitution, to replace the arcane, fuzzy and unstable foundations that parliament currently rests on. Centuries-old mumble bumble is frankly unfit for our modern political climate.
Does anyone deserve to have a billion pounds?
Arfamis: At that level of wealth, tens of millions of pounds added or taken to your balance are negligible enough that it wouldn't have any effect on your quality of life. I think with this sort of thing you need to consider what else this person could use that money for and to what level that would even effect their own lifestyle - somebody with that much money if they wanted to could splash out millions towards ending homelessness, starvation, poverty, or indeed towards renewable energies or conservation, and it wouldn't hinder their lifestyle whatsoever. We really should step back and ask if it's moral of us as a society to allow children to grow up malnourished while somebody else could pay for that child's food for the rest of their life without even denting their savings. Even if you're economically conservative, this is too far.
Cromwell: The NHS does, and the education does. They deserve to have more than a billion pounds. As well as other relevant beneficial institutions. As for people, I don't think any person deserves to have a billion pounds.
Fletcher: I take issue with how the question is framed. What Britain needs is not divisive questions like this, it's a fairer tax structure to benefit all of Britain's citizens, including those who are not as well off as others. Making money has never been a problem in this country, the problem is that our priorities need to be examined, and as needed, shifted around.
Llwyd: Well, there are a lot of people who deserve a billion pounds, but they're not always the ones that have a billion pounds. I'm also a firm believer that once you've reached the top, it's your responsibility to pass the ladder back down.
(name): If one managed to, while acting completely innocently, completely justly as they amassed such a fortune, then yes. However, that is a rare, near idealistic case. In most cases, such wealth is gained by oppressing the lower classes, along with our homeless population (a situation we seek to solve). Therefore, the more practical answer to this question is no.
Nordquist: The people who really deserve a billion pounds are those who have spent their lives working tirelessly to help others and keep society running - the heroic nurses, police officers, teachers, factory workers, ex-servicemen, carers; the list goes on. It is a massive failure of our society that so many hardworking people can live from paycheck to paycheck, struggling to make ends meet, while fat cat bankers and CEOs with huge bonuses do little to merit their seven-figure salaries. Labour will work tirelessly to fight inequality in Britain, increasing taxes on the wealthiest, limiting corporate income disparity, and ensuring that economic growth benefits all of us.
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