General election 2019: this is why Fylde's candidates want you to vote for them

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Have your say

The Fylde constituency in its various forms has returned a Conservative at every election for a century.

The Fylde constituency in its various forms has returned a Conservative at every election for a century. At the 2017 poll, the Tory incumbent Mark Menzies retained the seat with a slightly reduced majority of just under 12,000, but an increased share of the vote of almost 59 percent.

From top left - Martin Mitchell (Labour Party candidate), Mark Menzies (Conservative Party candidate), Gina Dowding (Green Party candidate), Mark Jewell (Liberal Democrat candidate) and Andy Higgins (Independent candidate)

From top left - Martin Mitchell (Labour Party candidate), Mark Menzies (Conservative Party candidate), Gina Dowding (Green Party candidate), Mark Jewell (Liberal Democrat candidate) and Andy Higgins (Independent candidate)

CONSTITUENCY BOUNDARIES

The areas of Preston covered by the Fylde constituency include parts of Ingol, Cottam, Lea and Larches. The patch then extends out through Kirkham to the coast at Lytham. Check your constituency at ordnancesurvey.co.uk/election-maps/gb

CANDIDATE PROFILES (in order of party vote share at last election)

MARK MENZIES (Conservative)

What are the biggest issues in this election?

Without any question, the most important issue is getting Brexit done. Brexit is something that has paralysed the nation and certainly Parliament over the past couple of years, which is why we need a Conservative majority to deliver Brexit and then get on with people’s priorities, such as the police, NHS and more money for education.

Don’t the demands of our economy mean that we will still need the same level of immigration after we leave the EU as we do now?

Labour are very much in favour of free movement of people, [while] the Conservatives are very strict when it comes to immigration - we’ll have an Australian-style points system, where the people who are coming into the UK will come in with a job and a purpose.

Won’t a lot of the people the country requires - such as care workers - fall below the minimum salary of £30,000 a year if that is extended to EU as well as non-EU migrants after Brexit?

When Labour had an open door immigration policy in the past, salaries actually fell. Our points system will make sure people are coming in to fill demands in the economy - particularly those with specialist skills.

A House of Lords committee said an extra £8bn is needed in social care now and reform in the longer term - but the Conservatives have committed only £1bn extra and not published any plan for the future.

That extra £1bn is a transitional sum of money - the green paper on social care is something the government is committed to, working on a cross party basis - so that whatever we put in place, can stand the test of time.

In 2017, you told constituents who wanted your support to ban fracking to “get real”, because you didn’t have that power. Now you are calling for a ban - do you accept that you made a misjudgement initially?

No, far from it. The one thing I fought for and was very effective at doing, was tougher regulation. It was that very regulation that was able to demonstrate the fact that [fracking] couldn’t continue - not just in Fylde, but potentially throughout the UK. My record on this is very strong and I’m proud to stand on it.

Complete the sentence, “Vote for me, because…”

I will continue to be a fantastic constituency member of Parliament. Serving the people of Fylde is a huge privilege. It shouldn’t all be about Brexit, but also serving people - and if you vote for me, we’ll be able to do both.

MARTIN MITCHELL (Labour)

What are the biggest issues in this election?

The NHS - Labour will have 24,000 new nurses and 5,000 new doctors. We’ll introduce a public drugs manufacturer so that NHS medicines are cheaper, we’ll reinstate nursing bursaries and, unlike with the Tories, the NHS will never be up for sale. Also, we must ban fracking once and for all.

You say the NHS is up for sale, but that’s just a scare tactic, isn’t it?

I’m afraid it will be up for sale if the Tories get back in - they’ve already had six rounds of negotiations with the Americans. It’s on Donald Trump’s agenda, there’s no doubt about it - he wants full market access and if the Tories get in, he’ll get it.

He might want it, but there is nothing to suggest the UK would ever agree to that, is there?

The government has not only been talking to American officials, it has also been talking to American drug manufacturers. Ask yourselves, why would they do that? It wouldn’t happen in a system where the government was committed to the NHS.

Labour talks about helping the less well off, but isn’t your manifesto stuffed with universal entitlements to things like free university tuition which will be given to people regardless of whether they need it?

We do believe in universal rights - they worked in the past and saved the country after 1945. We’re in a crisis now - there is a tremendous amount of hidden poverty. The way to tackle these issues is not to go for some kind of trickle-down system of market economics, we have to introduce universal rights to look after ordinary people.

If Labour wants a second EU referendum, why not have it between Boris Johnson’s deal and Remain, given that Jeremy Corbyn would remain neutral on any deal he negotiates?

What’s on the table now is simply not good enough - a border down the Irish sea and no protection for workers’ rights. We can’t have that - we’ll negotiate a sensible deal. As soon as Labour gets in, it’ll be adults talking to adults and we will put that deal to voters.

Complete the sentence, “Vote for me, because…”

I will make sure that public services are no longer cut to the bone and ordinary people’s rights take priority. Labour will provide a properly-funded NHS, a new national education service and a reversal of cuts to schools. I will stand up for residents and local businesses - not tax dodgers and the wealthy elite.

MARK JEWELL (Liberal Democrats)

What are the biggest issues in this election?

Funding our health service properly - by being honest with the electorate that we will have to increase tax by 1p in the pound - halting climate change and supporting our schools. But they all get taken over by the issue of Brexit. Without access to European markets and the free movement of EU labour, we cannot begin to address those very important issues.

Hasn’t your stop Brexit policy backfired? Even your fellow Remain alliance partners in the Green Party have described it as you saying to Leave voters that you couldn’t really care less about them.

It’s been blown out of proportion. Every party puts forward their manifesto and the Liberal Democrats simply believe that there is no form of Brexit , hard or soft, that is any better than staying in the EU. The question which is of more interest is what each of the [biggest] parties would do in a hung parliament.

Isn’t that a question for the Lib Dems as well, because Jo Swinson has ruled out doing anything which supports either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn?

That is more about a coalition. Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party is not the Conservative Party of old - it’s so far to the right, while Jeremy Corbyn is so far to the left - there has to be a middle ground.

The Lib Dems have tried to split the difference between the tax and spend policies of the main parties, but haven’t you really stood in the middle of the road and been run over?

It’s not taking a middle position, it’s taking a credible position. The Institute for Fiscal studies have said that neither the Labour nor Conservative manifestos add up. But they have pretty much said that the Liberal Democrats’ manifesto does.

Your extra penny on income tax equates to an extra £7bn a year for health and social care - that pretty much equals what Labour is promising, so is it really that ambitious?

There is also an £11bn investment into mental health services which will bring them to parity with physical illnesses. It’s not right that if you have some mental health issue you should travel large distances to get treatment.

Complete the sentence, “Vote for me, because…”

The Lib Dems are the leading Remain party on Fylde. This election is about whether Boris Johnson gets his majority or not. If you don’t want him to get his majority, vote for the Lib Dems, vote for me.

GINA DOWDING (Green Party)

What are the biggest issues in this election?

Undoubtedly, it's the climate crisis. I think everyone realises that we need urgent action now. Our Green New Deal will not only address the climate crisis - by investing massively in energy efficiency in people’s homes and creating a much better public transport system, with safe walking and cycling - but all of those policies create jobs and improve the quality of life for people.

The Green Party have plans to halt airport expansion and tax meat and dairy products - but isn’t that really timid tinkering in the face of the catastrophic effects of climate change which you so often talk about?

We do need massive changes, but I think all our policies put together amount to that - in transport or the way we farm and trade. We need to address the aviation industry - that’s the area of transport which is growing, so we have definitely got to put that into reverse. But for most people, it’s their commute to work or the trip to the shops that are most important. If we had proper investment in public transport which is reliable, cheap and on our doorsteps, people would switch from the car - it’s the same for walking and cycling.

You paint this green utopia of public transport, isn’t it virtually impossible to achieve from where we are starting?

I’m an MEP, so I’m travelling a lot to Europe and I can tell you public transport has got a huge way to go in this country. It’s not utopia, it’s totally realisable.

The Greens want to introduce a universal basic income of £89 per week for every citizen. What would be the incentive to anybody who on unemployment benefits to continue looking for a job?

People want to work and do useful and productive things. This is about guaranteeing an income so that their basic needs are met. Most people aspire to more than that. But UBI would mean people could do more creative things, go back to learning or care for family members.

Because it’s universal, you’ll be paying out to people for whom it’s absolutely unnecessary, won’t you?

You recoup that back in tax, that’s the way it works - but you have to make some things universal.

Complete the sentence, “Vote for me, because…”

The climate emergency and social injustice in this country is a disgrace and it needs really positive action. It’s only the Greens that have policies that can address those wide-ranging problems and improve quality of life for everyone.

ANDY HIGGINS (Independent)

What are the biggest issues in this election?

Brexit and the NHS - but one thing which differentiates me is that I’m very keen to push forward electoral reform. This constituency is very much a rotten borough - it’s one of the 150 seats [nationwide] that will realistically never change colour. I advocate proportional representation on the single transferable vote [system], which will make politics interesting, so that people don’t think a vote for anything other than Labour or the Tories is wasted.

You say you’d be an independent voice, but in reality wouldn't you just be a lone voice, because you would have no power if you were elected?

I think it's going to be a hung parliament, so people who are independent and not whipped by one of the two main parties, could be the kingmakers. They should hold the full weight of power, because that’s the way our democracy was designed to be - with people who support their constituency and vote according to their conscience and not party lines. It would encourage independent thought and if you had a conscience-based vote, you’d probably get Brexit through - how about that?

But how do people know what your conscience will tell you to do, without the policy platform of a party for them to judge you by - people can’t know that about you upfront, can they?

We try our best, we [the four independents running in Fylde coast constituencies] have leaflets and a website with our thoughts on things like the NHS and Brexit and local issues. This area is a bit of a microcosm of the country - we’ve got some of the worst areas of deprivation in the UK a couple of miles away from some of the richest areas of the UK. That doesn’t ring true with me - people want things to be fair, just and equitable, so a society based on rampant inequality is not one we should be tolerating.

It sounds like a Fylde coast-centred campaign, but this constituency extends into Preston - you’re not offering those voters anything, are you?

Just because people live in a PR postcode, they’re still decent, honourable people and they’ll want a society where you can be proud to live - they don’t want inequality and desperation down the road and wealthy people around the corner.

Complete the sentence, “Vote for me because…”

I’ll give an independent voice to politics, because politics is broken.

2017 FULL RESULT

Mark Menzies - 27,334 votes (58.8 percent)

Jed Sullivan (Lab) - 15,529 votes (41.8 percent)

Freddie Van Mierlo (Lib Dem) - 2,341 votes (5.0 percent)

Tina Rothery (Green Party) - 1,263 votes (2.7 percent)

EU REFERENDUM RESULT (by Fylde Council area)

57.0 percent voted Leave

CONSTITUENCY FACTFILE

Population - 85,748

Ethnicity - White 97.3 percent; Asian 1.3 percent

UK-born population - 95.1 percent (European - 2.7 percent)

Unemployment benefit claimant rate - 2.8 percent (4.9 percent North West average)

Median weekly wage - £610 (£560 NW average)

Areas of the constituency in the top ten most deprived nationally - 1 out of 41 (Fylde Council area) and 1 out of 83 (Preston City Council area)

Source: House of Commons Library