iFAQs: Big Responses in Little Parties

One of our popular features on The Political Medway is inFrequently Answered Questions, where we’d send off questions to relevant political figures and hope that we might occasionally get a reply. This week, we decided to contact the smaller parties who stood in Medway in 2015, but didn’t gain any representation on the council. As usual, we print all of their responses below entirely unedited.

Q1. What political event from 2018 do you feel was most overlooked?

In March the strike in Spain by 5 million women against domestic abuse and discrimination.
Chas Berry, Medway TUSC

On Thursday 12th July, Medway Liberal Democrat campaigners went to Westminster to hand in a petition to the Department of Health. 
We were joined by Norman Lamb MP, the Liberal Democrat former Health Minister, who is a strong advocate for greater awareness and better care provision in Mental Health and who in government pushed for parity of esteem between mental health and physical health.
The petition was signed by an amazing 1,200 people across the Medway Towns and the surrounding area of Kent, which is also affected by out of area referrals needed as a consequences of closing the Mental Health Unit at Medway Maritime Hospital in 2013. The signatures were collected online, on doorsteps and at a series of street campaigns organised by local Liberal Democrat members and calls for the reinstatement of a Mental Health Unit in Medway.
Medway Liberal Democrats ran the campaign, during the first 6 months of 2018 and the campaign highlighted Mental Health services both in general at a local level and in particular with regard to the issue of referring patients out of area. 
We believe that with a population of approximately 270,000 people, Medway is big enough that its Health Trust should be able to provide these services to local people. The signatories of our petition agreed with us and many have spoken to us saying that action is needed to address this and other issues affecting Mental Health provision in Medway. The petition sent a strong message calling on the Department of Health to reinstate a fit for purpose Mental Health Unit in Medway.
The absence of such a Unit impacts heavily on our police force in that they, at a conservative estimate, spend a third of their time dealing with mental health cases. The provision of a fit-for-purpose Mental Health Unit would free up police time to enable them to deal more efficiently and effectively with these cases. Allowing more time to deal with other issues, such as reducing levels of crime which are currently on the increase.
In common with our petition we have had people come forward to tell us that out of area referrals cost more and impacts on the quality of patient treatment, in that distance in many instances isolates patients from their family members who then find it difficult to travel to visit them. For many, that family support is essential in the aid to recovery. All over the country out of area treatment for Mental Health is now being regarded as standard practice and the Liberal Democrats strongly believe this is not in the best interests of patients and does not provide good quality of care.
Alan Wells, Medway Liberal Democrats

In June we were the only local party which held a campaign stall for ‘Demand Democracy Day’ arranged by the campaign group ‘Make Votes Matter’ as part of their cross party campaign for a change in the voting system to Proportional Representation. This is important because currently the vast majority of people are left without a voice as political parties are elected on a small proportion of the vote. This can and does result in complicit actions by politicians susceptible to the lobbying of their rich donors, leading to the continued rise of wealth and power of corporations and the stripping away of protections for ordinary people and our natural environment. 
We would also like to see Medway Council adopt a proportional voting system and bring in other changes to make the Council more democratic. Recent developments, particularly those affecting those living on the Hoo Peninsula, show that the Council is not and has no intention of listening to the vast majority of local opinion. It’s time all local people were represented and not just those who favour the dominating party.
A reform to the voting system was well supported by shoppers in Strood Town Centre where we held our stall. Unfortunately there was and continues to be little engagement in furthering our democracy in this way by the bigger parties. 
Clive Gregory, Medway Green Party

Q2. What is your vision for your party heading into the 2019 local election campaign?

TUSC is a coalition of trade unionists and socialists and at the moment the consensus is to support Labour and help its left wing to fight austerity. That means we are not standing against Labour in this election and will support candidates with a track record of fighting cuts to public services.
Chas Berry, Medway TUSC

May 2019 sees a challenging set of local elections taking place across Medway. In the run up to the elections, we will be working in Medway to continue our excellent recent local by-election results and to provide a much-needed boost to the party’s momentum nationally.
The Liberal Democrats are demanding better from the ruling Conservative led Council, so that it listens to residents and puts them first. Medway Liberal Democrats are committed to working together with residents, to maintain what is great in our community, improve and enhance our environment and look after our most vulnerable residents.
A well-planned campaign is the first step to winning an election, and we are aiming to fill more Wards in Medway with candidates.
Heading towards May’s election, Medway Liberal Democrats are proposing a more positive vision – where we can make Medway better, together.
Our candidates have a wealth of experience and a lot of ideas of how we can make Medway better, that’s why they’re standing for council.
But the Lib Dems don’t have a monopoly on common sense. We know there are residents who have ideas for what would make their street, their neighbourhood, or their town and city, even better. So if you have great ideas that fit within our vision, then we’ll back it one hundred percent.
Nationally this is an exciting time for our communities, the Liberal Democrats have won every by-election for the past two years, which really sets out what the Liberal Democrats would work towards if we take control of the Council in 2019.
Alan Wells, Medway Liberal Democrats

We aim to be at the forefront of defending the environment and democracy. However as a small party locally we need to focus our energies which are currently (and for the last few years) centred on the disastrous proposals by Medway Council in the Local Plan consultation. The latest proposal to build a new town on the Hoo Peninsula will do little or nothing to provide truly affordable housing locally, will destroy valuable green spaces, and completely fails to acknowledge or respond to the reality of climate breakdown. This is a reflection of the national and international agenda, an agenda which we will seek to challenge in our local campaign for the good of people and the planet (locally and elsewhere). 
Clive Gregory, Medway Green Party

We did attempt to reach out to the Medway English Democrats, but were unable to find any current contact details for them, so sadly you will have to manage without their insight.

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