With exactly two weeks to go, you’ve got plenty of time to make up your mind about who gets your vote. Just make sure you don’t put it off until the last minute like that Macbeth essay you wrote in Year 11 and got a D for.
Anyway, it’s another day and another candidate. In case you missed it, so far we’ve spoken to the Lib Dem, Labour, and Independent candidates. We’ve also given you six reasons to vote even if you don’t care.
Now we have Vix Lowthion, history teacher and Green parliamentary candidate.
Why did you get involved in politics?
Because I saw an advert in the County Press looking for a Parliamentary candidate for the Green Party in 2014 – and the rest is history!
Through studying science with the Open University I came to the conclusion that the biggest issues facing the planet are climate change, our energy crisis, and equality of resources and opportunities. Only the Green Party recognises this fact and has the key policies to tackle these challenges and build a safe and fair future for all.
What is your stance on the legalisation of cannabis and why?
The Green Party believes that a legal, regulated and safe supply chain for cannabis will take the power away from the black market. We believe in reappraising many of our drug laws, and dealing with addiction as a medical need and not merely a criminal activity.
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 a right, a common good and an essential need for society. Tuition Fees are an inefficient and unfair way to fund post-18 education. It puts young people into huge amounts of debt, without ever guaranteeing to the government that it will be paid back.
It would be fairer and more efficient to have access to university for free, and increase the level of taxation paid by those who earn above average salaries. We would scrap tuition fees, reinstate maintenance grants and protect the rights of students as we move towards leaving the EU.
Do you support Isle of Wight Pride and what are your thoughts on Andrew Turner’s decision to resign?
I’ve supported IW Pride since the idea was first mooted after the vigil for the victims of the Florida shooting, which we held in St Thomas Square in June last year. It surprised us all that over 200 Islanders turned out in solidarity with the LGBTIQ+ community, and the seed was sown!
The Green Party has the strongest LGBTIQ+ policies of any political party – please take a look. I am extremely disappointed that Andrew Turner or even the Island Conservative Association never apologised or took back his comments about homosexuality. In fact I witnessed Conservative councillors excuse his opinions on faith grounds. As a teacher it would be unacceptable for me to voice those opinions in a public, school environment, and the rules should be no different for an MP. He had no option but to resign.
Do you support votes at 16? Why or why not?
Absolutely. The Green Party has campaigned for Votes at 16 for many years, and party leader Caroline Lucas stood up in Parliament the day after the General Election was called to demand 16 year olds get the right to vote in June. Our young people will be affected longest by the decisions made in Parliament, especially regarding leaving the EU, and should have the right to have their say.
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 know that many young Islanders leave for university, jobs and the cultural adventures of living in cities – but this is not just an Isle of Wight phenomenon. All rural communities also face young people leaving for similar reasons. The key question is not to stop young people leaving, but to allow them to return when they are ready.
We need a spectrum of skilled, professional jobs, affordable housing and cultural experiences to encourage young people to stay – it’s not just a matter of employment. There are many opportunities for jobs to be created on the Island – particularly in the tourism and engineering sectors. But they must be jobs with a clear career progression and a fair wage.
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?
We must tackle both the rise in privatisation and also invest more in doctors, nurses and modern equipment. This can be funded through allocating money from other budget areas (for example, the £3 billion a year spent to renew the Trident nuclear system) and also a modest rise in taxation for those who can afford it. The NHS must be a publicly run health service, and we need to remove private business from running services paid for from the public purse for maximum profit.
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?
Young people have been disproportionately attacked by governments in recent times, not only when it comes to the minimum and living wage but also in the rates paid to apprentices. In 2014 the Green Party announced in the manifesto that we would work towards a £10 minimum wage by 2020 – and now we see the other parties also adopt this policy. But it’s also about the rate of wage increase.
In the next 2 years as we move towards leaving the EU we are likely to see a rise in living costs and we also need to protect the rights of workers. It is very important that our post-EU world puts people and not business profits at its heart.
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?
To combat climate change, reduce carbon emissions and fight air pollution, public transport, walking and cycling need to be the default way that we all get around. The major obstacles to this are cost, frequency and availability of transport across the Island.
Too many of our Island communities have lost their bus services – and a lot of this is linked to a reduction in funding from national government to local government. I would fight for fair funding for the Island in Parliament, to allow for investment in local transport solutions.
What would you do to help young people get on the housing ladder?
We believe that our governments are too obsessed with buying houses, and we need to put much more emphasis on protections for those who rent as well as more imaginative ways to help young people to own their homes. We need to expand the use of community land trusts, and encourage more localised co-operative home ownership.