Decisions, decisions


I was caught unprepared by an actual parliamentary candidate knocking on the door this evening! Unfortunately I was about to bath the kraken so I didn’t have time to come up with any sensible questions. Still, it’s about time I took an interest in the election…

It’s not long since I last got to vote for an MP and, like last time, I’m undecided. Unfortunately there aren’t as many candidates to choose from this time, with the final list being:

  • Declan Clune (TUSC)
  • Patricia Culligan (UKIP)
  • Mims Davis (Conservative)
  • Ray Hall, Beer (Baccy and Scratchings)
  • Mark Latham (Labour)
  • Ron Meldrum (Green)
  • Mike Thornton (Lib Dem)

There’s more information about all the Eastleigh candidates on YourNextMP, which was handy for finding most of them on twitter. At some point I hope to get round to contacting all the candidates with a few questions and, if I do, I’ll post any responses in case it helps anyone else. The first source of inspiration I’ve spotted is the Open Rights Group general election party manifesto wiki.

Early impressions are:

Hopefully I’ll have more to go on by 7th May! If anyone has any thoughts, including any of the candidates, please leave a comment.

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Spy on them?


Apparently today is the day we fight back, with the launch of Don’t Spy On Us in the UK.

lynsey_wells83-slow-down

It’s puzzling why digital interactions are somehow viewed differently to other aspects of everyday life. I suspect the economics of getting away with mass surveillance online vs. offline has a lot to do with it. Whatever the reason, making it explicit that our offline rights extend online is well overdue. The six proposed principles don’t seem all that unreasonable:

1. No surveillance without suspicion
Mass surveillance must end. Surveillance is only legitimate when it is targeted, authorised by a warrant, and is necessary and proportionate.

2. Transparent laws, not secret laws
The Government is using secret agreements and abusing archaic laws. We need a clear legal framework governing surveillance to protect our rights.

3. Judicial not political authorisation
Ministers should not have the power to authorise surveillance. All surveillance should be sanctioned by an independent judge on a case-by-case basis.

4. Effective democratic oversight
Parliament has failed to hold the intelligence agencies to account. Parliamentary oversight must be independent, properly resourced, and able to command public confidence through regular reporting and public sessions.

5. The right to redress
Innocent people have had their rights violated. Everyone should have the right to challenge surveillance in an open court.

6. A secure web for all
Weakening the general security and privacy of communications systems erodes protections for everyone, and undermines trust in digital services. Secret operations by government agencies should be targeted, and not attack widely used technologies, protocols and standards.

If we miss this opportunity, there’s a real risk to democracy. How is oversight possible if the people you’re overseeing know things about you that you’d rather keep private. My last MP, a candidate for the Lib Dem leadership, certainly had things to hide. Perhaps we need to know more about MPs. A lot more.

Photo © Veronica Aguilar (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Eastleigh by-election: National Health Action


Unfortunately I only just discovered that outlook.com had decided this reply was junk- maybe it’s a little early for Microsoft to be launching it officially just yet! Ok, so the election was last week, where Iain got 392 votes, but I think it’s still worth posting for completeness.

> 1. What are your views on equal rights, for example do you support the introduction of gay marriage?

I’m not opposed to same sex marriage (covered in my earlier email)
[Q. What are you doing to support equal marriage? A. Nothing active. I think we need to maintain our focus on the economy and the threat of privatisation of the NHS at the moment. I’m not saying it’s not an important issue; but we have to prioritise things somehow. Personally I support equal marriage.]

> 2. I am very concerned about the introduction of secret courts as part of the Justice and Security Bill. Would you oppose the introduction of secret courts?

Yes – I too feel the very fact that this is being considered is very worrying in a supposedly free society.

> 3. In my view MPs have a poor track record on technology issues, for example the ill-considered Digital Economy Act, which my last MP was unwilling to discuss. What are your views on repeated attempts to introduce a snoopers charter?

As with 2 – this is an extremely regressive step and will simply escalate the fear and mistrust that threat to break up the essential cohesiveness that binds society together.

> 4. Do you agree that it would be easier to reduce dishonest and corrupt business practices if there was more transparency in company relationships and ownership? How would you tackle this issue? For example, would you back legislation to crack down on non-trading companies?

More transparency and accountability in everything. Commercial confidentiality clauses are one the things that cause markets in health care to fail at the expense of quality and safety in patient care.

> 5. Can you promise to fight to protect NHS services both nationally and at our local hospitals?

Yes – covered in my previous email.

[Q. Would you support new legislation to reverse the harm of the Health and Social Care Act 2012, and stopping the privatisation of the NHS services? A. Yes – absolutely. This is the primary aim of my election campaign. Q. Can you promise to fight to protect services at our local hospitals? A. Yes – I promise to protect services at local hospitals and community and mental health services. The only situation where I would support closure of local health services would be if the services concerned were no longer being run to adequate standards of safety or quality. But in such circumstances health commissioners would need to ensure that replacement services of satisfactory quality were available at a location or locations that are convenient and accessible for the whole population of Eastleigh borough.]

> 6. Would you support any changes to the current laws on abortion and, if so, what changes would you like to see introduced?

This is a very divisive issue, over which, if required to vote on in Parliament, I would consult closely with my constituents. Personally I don’t see any pressing need to change the current abortion law.

> 7. What role do you think an MP has in local issues? What will you be able to do to help resolve issues like planning that other locally elected representatives are not able to do?

I believe that, as an MP not subject to a party whip, I would be a more effective voice for local people on local issues.

> 8. What measures would you take to promote green technology and to prevent climate change?

Covered in my previous email.

[Sustainable development funding to be made available to ‘green’ businesses and projects.
Better access to bank loans for local, small businesses.
Promote active travel, especially encouraging safe cycling and walking.
Reduce the costs of public transport.
Promote policies where the general principle is ‘the polluter pays’. This will preserve individuals’ choices, but it will ensure that one person’s choice to live a high carbon lifestyle doesn’t restrict another person’s choice to live a more sustainable lifestyle. It will also avoid the situation where the costs of people’s unsustainable lifestyle choices are borne by the environment and thus paid for by future generations.]

> 9. Do you have a by-election manifesto where I could find out more about issues that are important to you?

No. The NHAP is a very new party (created Nov 2012), so we don’t have a detailed manifesto yet. Please see our website http://www.nationalhealthaction.org.uk/ for the general thrust of our existing policies.

> 10. Do you intend to stand in future Eastleigh parliamentary elections?

This is for the Executive Committee of NHAP to decide. I probably would if asked.

> Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. Please let me know if you would prefer me not to publish your responses on my weblog.

I don’t mind you publishing my responses.

Hopefully Iain will be back again in 2015!

Eastleigh by-election: English Democrats


A late entry from the English Democrats in case anyone is still trying to decide. (Are the polls still open?!)

James Thank you for some sensible questions at last.

1. I am proposing that as the current bill was voted for with only 150 M.P.’s voting against it and as it declares that the Church of England and other Churches are exempt from performing gay marriages, this means that many of the Gay Lebian and Bisexual community think they can have a church wedding but no church other than the Quakers will allow it. I therefore suggest Government funding for Bishop Jonathan Blakes Open Episcopal Church to operate from various currently empty or derelict church buildings to specifically fill this need and bring peace to the whole debate.

2. My ex wife who I am recently divorced from is a Black Afro Caribbean High Court officer in the Childrens and Family Courts service. These are existing secret courts 10,00 British children are taken into care by the state in these secret courts . Extending the use of secret courts brings us closer to a Police State and I oppose it.

3. The internet should be free and remain so. It undermines the authorities which is why they want to do this under the pretence of British Homeland Security, only where there is a serious recognisable threat to national security should it be employed.

4. Yes and offshore bank accounts , I used to be an Independent Financial Adviser I left financial services in 1998 of my own free will to pursue a more honest living. I know where and how to root out tax dodges.

5. I had my first hospital stay in October having a titanium plate and screws keeping my right hand attached to the rest of me I am on record as saying I will fight against NHS privatisation.

6. Abortion I am concerned we may be killing our young and would support a reduction in the number of weeks allowed before abortion is allowed.

7. Planning and the localism bill make a mockery of protecting green field sites I would do whatever I can to protect green field spaces but it is really the local authorities decision not the M.P.’s .

8. Solar panels like the one on our Church as featured on my Facebook page Michael Walters English Democrat for Eastleigh, to be installed on all public buildings. I am anti Fraking and very concerned about the proposed Nuclear Waste Dump being proposed at Romney Marsh just up the coast.

9.See Facebook page.

10. Not likely James my job here is to promote my party so that someone more local and hopefully cleverer than me joins and stands instead how about you James ?

Publish way no probs.

Best Wishes

Mike Walters

So the final tally was seven replies, or half the candidates, which is far more than I was expecting in the time available.

Eastleigh by-election: Elvis Loves Pets


And finally, the Elvis Loves Pets party also replied! No-nonsense answers and another website to check out.

> 1. What are your views on equal rights, for example do you support the introduction of gay marriage?
We support gay marriage, anything to cut the birth rate
>
> 2. I am very concerned about the introduction of secret courts as part of the Justice and Security Bill. Would you oppose the introduction of secret courts?
Against secret courts
> 3. In my view MPs have a poor track record on technology issues, for example the ill-considered Digital Economy Act, which my last MP was unwilling to discuss. What are your views on repeated attempts to introduce a snoopers charter?
Against snoopers charter
> 4. Do you agree that it would be easier to reduce dishonest and corrupt business practices if there was more transparency in company relationships and ownership? How would you tackle this issue? For example, would you back legislation to crack down on non-trading companies?
> Pass
> 5. Can you promise to fight to protect NHS services both nationally and at our local hospitals?
> I Support the NHS
> 6. Would you support any changes to the current laws on abortion and, if so, what changes would you like to see introduced?
> No
> 7. What role do you think an MP has in local issues? What will you be able to do to help resolve issues like planning that other locally elected representatives are not able to do?
I will speak to the planning officer>
> 8. What measures would you take to promote green technology and to prevent climate change?
More solar panels on council house>
> 9. Do you have a by-election manifesto where I could find out more about issues that are important to you?
http://grumpyoldelvis.co.uk/eastleigh-manifesto-2013
> 10. Do you intend to stand in future Eastleigh parliamentary elections?
No>
> Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. Please let me know if you would prefer me not to publish your responses on my weblog.
No problem in publishing

Looks like 2013 will be the only opportunity to vote for Elvis Loves Pets in Eastleigh!

Eastleigh by-election: UKIP


Fifth place went to UKIP with perhaps the most techno reply of all- in the future, candidates will be able to participate in virtual hustings, live from a cold doorstep using a tablet! And yet this is also the first reply not to include a website. How strange.

Hi James
Quick responses:
1. No
2. Yes
3. Do not support this charter
4.collaborate with fellow mps on this
5. Absolutely
6. Ism content with the law as it stands and would want more medical evidence to consider to review any personal change.
7. Yes ukip policy is to support local referenda and follow through
8. Require scientific evidence base on this before a direct answer
9. Yes this should have already reached you. We have leafleted every household. Let me know if yours has gone
10. Yes
No prob with your blog
Kind regards
Diane
Sent from my iPad

Don’t worry, the leaflets got through! It would be nice if evidence actually played a bigger role in politics but I am still puzzled how a single MP could actually follow through on a local planning referenda!