The bank holiday is over and we’ve all been thrust back into the real world whether we like it or not. Of course, if you like politics, the real world is pretty interesting right now; and if you don’t, here are six reasons why you should.
Next up we’ve got responses from Conservative candidate Bob Seely.
Why did you get involved in politics?
I love my country, I love my Island and want to make a difference. Life is short. Let’s be that difference!
What is your stance on the legalisation of cannabis and why?
I don’t support it. There may have been a case 50 years ago, but I think the growth of significantly more powerful forms of cannabis means that it has become more dangerous in the past decade and can have quite a damaging effect on those who smoke it, especially those people under the age of 25 whose minds are still being formed.
The average debt of a recent university graduate is £44,000 – the highest in the English-speaking world. What is your stance on tuition fees?
Education is an investment, both in terms of personal growth but also in opportunity and students only start to pay off debt after they earn a certain amount. With pressure on all government spending, tuition fees are necessary to help universities grow and flourish.
Do you support Isle of Wight Pride and what are your thoughts on Andrew Turner’s decision to resign?
I will be attending. I love a good party.
I wish Andrew a happy retirement.
I believe that one should judge based on a person’s character. I do NOT believe the one should judge on: colour of skin, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, etc. I made my position very clear to Conservative members who selected me. I asked them not to support me if they did not agree with that position. I won by a good margin on the first round.
Do you support votes at 16? Why or why not?
Eighteen is the age of legal independence. Young people take on some responsibilities from the age of 16, giving them experience of adult life before full adulthood when they reach 18. I am happy with the current level, which is in line with the vast majority of the world.
Many young people feel they have to leave to succeed. Do you agree, and if not, can more jobs be created on the Isle of Wight?
I wish that wasn’t the case. We need to create more opportunities on the Island. I want more higher education options, or at least satellite campuses here. I want more high-tech jobs. We need to develop more opportunities for people who want to stay on the Island.
We need an agenda that puts the focus on arts, science and technology. For much of the past 200 years, the Island was a hub of artistic and scientific endeavour, a place that inspired those who lived here. I want to see that again, and we need to create the right environment to increase investment and innovation.
According to Fullfact.org, the NHS funding gap will be £30 billion by 2020. What are your thoughts on the current state of the NHS?
Theresa May has recently announced plans to pump £8 billion into the NHS. She also pledged to increase NHS funding per head of population in every year of the next Parliament.
I am focused on the local situation. Firstly, I will campaign to keep services in St. Mary’s. Secondly, let’s find doctors for surgeries that are under threat of closure. Thirdly, let’s have more services available in larger surgeries in the Island, so that they mimic the services of the old Cottage Hospitals.
Since 2010, we’ve seen the longest fall in wages since records began, making it joint worst with Greece in the developed world. What would you do to ensure a fair wage for young people in work?
Firstly, the Conservatives have increased the minimum wage, raising it to £7.50 last month for young people aged 25 and over, with other rises also for those younger. Further increases are due in the coming years. Secondly, wages come with jobs so we need to create the environment whereby businesses can thrive. Thirdly, we are committed to seeing more all-year round jobs created on Island. I am delighted at the arrival of over 500 new jobs to the Island, announced by the Conservative administration at County Hall earlier this month.
Living on an island, transport is a priority for residents of every age. What are your views on transport around the Island, and across the Solent?
The ferries are unregulated. They should have been. This was a mistake of then Conservative government. The ferry companies are also loaded with debt. We pay that debt when we use their service. There are various options. We could try to get the ferry firms regulated. We could encourage greater competition. The firms could write off part of the debt. I want to tread carefully to make sure that the approach will we adopt will be the right one. There are no quick fixes.
What would you do to help young people get on the housing ladder?
When the economy crashed under Labour, house-building fell to its lowest peacetime rate since the 1920s. It has taken a number of years to not just turn the economy around but to secure market confidence in investing in new housing. That is something which the Conservatives are committed to doing. We need the right sort of house-building on the Island. The current system does not serve us well as developers make money by building houses often unaffordable to Islanders.
I want to see a system which produces small-scale developments which are overwhelmingly for local people and local youngsters – shared ownership and social housing. The Conservative manifesto promise for more social housing and more affordable housing is great news.