29 May 2017
The Salisbury Journal asked Green Party candidate Brig Oubridge 4 questions. Here's how he answered.
Our first priority should be to guarantee the rights of all EU citizens and their families at present living or working in the UK. The British public were sold Brexit on the basis of false claims, and whoever does the negotiation, we will find that whatever deal is on offer will in no way match what the Brexiteers promised, and will not be in Britain's interest. To walk away with no deal would be even worse, and would sour relations with the rest of Europe for decades to come. If you buy something unseen by mail order and don't like what is actually delivered you have the right to send it back. We should have the same rights in regard to Brexit, and a referendum on any final deal is absolutely essential.
Our military are so poorly equipped that in Afghanistan and Iraq there was not enough body armour to go round, and our soldiers had to buy their own boots. Nevertheless, the other parties are all committed to spending over £100 billion on updating Trident, which we can never use, which many generals don't want, and which even former Tory Defense Secretary Michael Portillo described as "not independent, not a deterent, and a complete waste of money". We should learn the lessons of the past - not allow ourselves to be dragged blindly into wars on the coattails of whoever happens to be the US President; work through the UN, and only commit our forces to act where this has clear UN authority.
Foodbank use has been rising ever since 2010 because the Conservatives have introduced an extremely harsh regime of benefit cuts and sanctions which have left over a million people a year with no other means of feeding themselves or their families. Anyone without personal experience of this, or who doubts the cruel and arbitrary reality, should watch the excellent recent film "I Daniel Blake". At some time in our lives we can all be vulnerable to unexpected circumstances, whether that be unemployment, accidental injury, or physical or mental illness, which can make us temporarily dependent. The Tory regime treats anyone needing help as the "undeserving poor" who need punishing. We are the sixth richest country on earth, and we need to bring back decency and compassion to the way we treat those members of society who fall upon hard times, usually through no fault of their own.
The NHS is suffering from chronic under-funding from seven years of government imposed austerity, similar under-funding of community care causing bed-blocking, staff shortages due to a failure to train enough staff, and low morale due to the 1% pay cap which means pay falling in real terms. We have become dependent on doctors, nurses and dentists from other EU countries, and the situation has been made worse by the uncertainty of the Brexit vote, with more returning home and fewer coming here to replace them. We need to plug the funding gaps, train more staff by scrapping university tuition fees and restoring bursaries for nurse training, scrap the pay cap, and guarantee the rights of EU workers and their families. How to pay for it? - tax the super-rich, tax-dodging multinational companies and speculative capital flows through the banks.