Who will you vote for? Ask your questions here…

These are your local candidates.

The ‘Virtual Hustings’

 

Uniquely, this article is going to stay away from editorial comment and leave (almost) everything to you and the candidates. Unlike other publications pushing one side of the political agenda, the Totnes Pulse is proud to be neutral, and to support engagement with political representatives who work for us.

We have asked each of them for just 200 words about what they stand for – the rest is up to you. Simply put your question into the comment section below…

Use the comments section for your questions and, once approved, responses from each candidate will be posted into our ‘Answer Chart’ just above the comments section. This will allow everyone to see what each candidate thinks on any given subject.

We will filter out any abusive or irrelevant / repeated content (This isn’t Facebook) and fact-check where necessary. Please be respectful and concise, avoiding preamble and be aware that this will be an extremely busy time for candidates, so patience for answers please…

(if a candidate from another party confirms they’re standing, we’ll gladly add their statement; we have tried.)

The Candidates

Louise Webberley (Labour)

“It’s such an honour to be representing Labour in Totnes, the constituency I live and work in. I am a working mum, employed as a frontline social worker, with a specialist interest in the mental health of young people. I am also a Labour councillor for Totnes town council. As a social worker, I see first-hand the devastating impact of Conservative and Coalition cuts. Less funding for students with disabilities, longer waiting times for mental health appointments, youth services cut and schools unable to afford pens and paper. 

But it doesn’t have to be this way in one of the richest countries in the world. I’m proud to stand on a manifesto of transformative, progressive policies, from the Green New Deal which will safeguard our planet for future generations, to vast reinvestment in our public services. Labour has many policies that will make life better for every one of us. 

Unlike our current MP, Sarah Wollaston, I have always opposed Brexit. It will destroy our economy and hit the vulnerable hardest. Labour are now the only party supporting a people’s vote – and we’re the only party that can deliver one. In Totnes, it doesn’t have to be a choice between a Tory and an ex-Tory. Labour can win here. 

Don’t just hope for a better Britain – vote for one!”

Dr Sarah Wollaston (Lib Dem)

We’re sorry to say Dr Wollaston has declined to partake in this discussion but we would be delighted to see a change of heart, our mailbox is always open.

Anthony Mangnall (Conservative)

“I am Anthony Mangnall your Conservative Party Candidate for this election. I am standing to be your MP for this constituency because I believe the current batch of politicians are failing to deliver for this country and for this community.

I have known the South Hams for my entire life. It is where my family grew up, it is where many of them still live and work today. So I know this area and I know this community. The constituency of Totnes was the only seat I applied to represent for this election, because for me it means something to represent the place you have local roots.

Politics in the UK has become so very binary and abrasive, but it should not be like that and it does not have to be. I believe that we need to retrace our steps to ensure our MPs are better at serving their local communities than themselves. I feel my experience, my age and energy lend themselves to be able to deliver for this community. From my time working on the Prevention of Sexual Violence in Conflict initiative to helping close the UK’s domestic ivory market my record shows I can deliver and I want to put that to use in representing residents across Torbay and South Hams. 

To improve our politics I believe we need to humanise it. That means engaging with residents and listening to their needs and concerns. It is for this reason that I quit my job four months ago and used the deposit for my first home to support me in my attempt to become your new local MP. I am not hard right or extremist, but a caring and compassionate Conservative who cares deeply about our society. I want to see Brexit delivered but i also want to see us debate the issues that matter most to me and my generation; climate change, housing, health, education, small business support and promoting our farming and fishing sectors, so as to provide great opportunity for all. I will be fighting on these issues over the course of this election and I look forward to hearing your views and opinions as the campaign progresses.”

 

We are in the midst of a climate emergency. What are your views on fracking and how can we save our planet in the years to come?

FULL QUESTION: We are in the midst of a climate emergency. What are your views on fracking and how can we save our planet in the years to come?

Louise Webberley (Labour):

Simply put, I oppose fracking. Unlike the Tory government, who support fracking and are lobbied by the fracking industry. Current electioneering attempts by Boris Johnson to appear “green” has led to fracking being suspended - not banned or ended. Just temporarily stopped. This isn’t good enough. Communities deserve to be listened to when they say they oppose fracking. According to the Campaign to Protect Rural England, fracking is only supported by 18% of British people - compared to renewables, which enjoyed 4x as much support.

Equally as popular with the British public is Labour’s Green New Deal - a policy framework I am proud to support and endorse. This strategy is underpinned by the goal to decarbonise Britain by 2030 - which is one of the most radical targets in the world, and is backed by 56% of British people surveyed recently (YouGov). The Tories are only aiming for 2050, and the Lib Dems have fallen short at 2045 - both are far too late. Given the climate emergency we find ourselves in, only robust and swift action will do.

Labour’s Green New Deal aims for a just transition from our current fossil fuel-reliant economy, to one which utilises renewable energy sources, like solar, wind and tidal energy. In order to achieve this, we have to take the workers with us - so Labour will ensure the creation of green, unionised and well-paid jobs in the renewables sector. This has the backing of numerous unions. Other benefits of this framework would be democratic public ownership, and renewably-powered public transport which will improve the lives of everyone.

Anthony Mangnall (Conservative):

I am against fracking and always have been. The Conservative Party has suspended fracking and if I am elected I will campaign to ensure that we ban it outright within this country. That is my commitment to you as a voter in this election.

The opportunities in tackling climate change are exciting and I believe that the UK can play a huge role in the development of technology that will help us protect and safeguard our environment for years to come.

We have already:
- Committed to a legally binding target to end our contribution to global warming by 2050, the first major economy to do so
- Committed to end the use of coal by 2025, ensuring cleaner air for the next generation
- Reduced greenhouse gases by a quarter since 2010  (*TOTNES PULSE FACTCHECK - WIKIPEDIA*)
- Reduced emissions faster than any other G20 country.

But it is not enough to say what we have done but what we can do and what I feel should be done. Climate change is my generations greatest fight and I want champion it. I would like to see a faster shift towards renewable sources of energy, something the South West is already widely recognised for. I want to ensure greater investment into green technology from both the government and the private sector, helping develop the technology that we will need to mitigate the impact of climate change.

Tackling this issue means a responsible and sensible approach not throwing out dates and deadlines that are not feasible. I will be working with local stakeholders to make sure that South West leads this campaign and I hope to work with you and other on this issue.

What would you do to help those homeless on the streets of Totnes?

FULL QUESTION:  What would you do to help those homeless on the streets of Totnes?

Louise Webberley (Labour):

I think it is key, first of all, to understand the true scale of the issue. Since 2010, under this Tory government, rough sleeping has more than doubled. A combination of callous cuts by the government, reforms to the benefits system and disastrous introduction of Universal Credit has caused many people to find themselves homeless.

As a social worker, I spend my days working with some of the most vulnerable in society. The most important thing for me, is combining a compassionate, considerate approach with policy that is evidence-based. The next Labour government will end the draconian Vagrancy Act 1824 which criminalises the homeless.  Not only must we ensure we house those who are homeless, but we must address the many root causes of homelessness, which often cause those affected to become trapped in a vicious cycle.

The Last Labour government all but eliminated rough sleeping - the next Labour government will build on that success. In 2018, we announced we’d provide 8,000 affordable new homes for rough sleepers, using the Housing First policy which has worked in the US and elsewhere. As of last year, there were 900 properties in South Hams alone which had been empty for more than 6 months!

The next Labour government has pledged to end all rough sleeping by the end of their first term in power. .

Anthony Mangnall (Conservative):

Awaiting Answer.

How can we trust you to keep the promises you make and restore our faith in democracy?

FULL QUESTION: Trust in politics and politicians are at an all time low, with our representatives saying one thing and doing exactly the opposite. Nowhere is this higher up the agenda than in this Totnes Constituency, where 53% of voters supported a Conservative Sarah Wollaston in 2017, but ended up with the third placed Liberal Democrat manifesto.

How can we trust you to keep the promises you make and restore our faith in democracy?

Louise Webberley (Labour):

I think there's a lot of people who agree, and I understand where that comes from. My view is that when a candidate runs under the manifesto and banner of a political party, if they decide to leave that party for whatever reason, an immediate by-election should take place.

I already have a background of being an elected representative, and I welcome you to look over my history and see that I have maintained the views I originally held and ran on. I am happy for my views to strengthen or adapt over time, based on new research and a changing landscape, but my fundamental values remain true.

I have, for example, always held a consistent view when it comes to Brexit, having been a Remainer from the very beginning. Ultimately though, my stance won't affect my desire to be an advocate for everyone, not just the 48% or 52%.
I want to be your MP because ultimately, I believe you deserve better. I’m not cut from the same cloth as many of the career politicians we see standing for election.  As someone who lives and works here, I consider myself a Totnesian - so the decisions that affect you also affect me and my family, whether that be school funding, local hospital closures, or longer GP waiting times.

There have already been a lot of dodgy graphs and downright lies told in this campaign. My team and I are determined not to undermine people’s confidence in politics even more by swapping tit-for-tat graphics about who is going to win here. People can look up election results for themselves. All we know is that Totnes is a now a three-way race, in the most volatile election in memory. In that situation people should vote for the policies they believe in.

We don’t ask people to vote tactically for us, and we don't do deals out of the public eye. If there is going to be any discussion about parties working together, it happens after the vote. I’m not saying that our voting system is perfect but we have to use the one we have to talk about the kind of society we want to live in, at this crucial time in our history. Not to play silly games.

Anthony Mangnall (Conservative):

I feel that politics has become so very binary in this country (as I mentioned above). But it does not have to be. My campaign is not about making bombastic promises but listening to the local concerns and the needs of our communities. I want to help deliver on those wants and to be seen as a candidate who can listen, learn and achieve.

It is for that reason I have been knocking on doors for so many weeks. From speaking in schools to visiting retirement homes I know that the only way we can improve the standard of politics is by humanising it, engaging and having those face to face conversations.

Of course, it is also important to ensure that if an MP does swap party then there should be a by-election. I will work with any and all MPs to ensure that legislation is introduced to that effect.

Added to which I want to see our MPs fully transparent and available. I would not only hold regular town and village halls but ensure that I am engaging through social action groups, local government and as an active member of society.

How do you view food banks? And what do you think this steep rise in their use, means for British citizens as a whole?

FULL QUESTION: In the last 10 years of Tory government, food banks in the UK have increased from 47, to around 2,000. The Trussel Trust accounting for around 1,200 of these. The number of supplies to these food banks has increased by 73% in the last five years. How do you view food banks? And what do you think this steep rise in their use, means for British citizens as a whole?

Louise Webberley (Labour):

Simply put, food banks should not be needed in one of the richest nations in the world. I believe that a country’s success shouldn’t be measured solely in economic terms - whether that be productivity or growth. But on the basic wellbeing of the people who live there.

It is an absolute disgrace that anyone in this country is having to use food banks to survive. But this is the reality after nearly a decade of brutal Tory and Coalition cuts. 14 million British people are employed but living in poverty, and we’ve seen nurses and teachers having to visit one of the 2000 food banks in our country. How have we allowed this to happen?

It should appall each and every one of us that there are 4 million British children at risk of malnourishment. Let me tell you, as a social worker, I see such cases all the time. The duty of a government is to look after its people - yet, the Conservatives seem to have forgotten this. For purely ideological reasons, they are stealing the safety net that once would have helped those on low incomes to keep afloat.

It doesn’t have to be like this - and under a Labour government, it won’t be. Food is a basic human right, and Labour will create a Fair Food Act to enshrine that human rights in law. A £6mil access to food fund will be created to start with, in order to ensure the 50 most deprived areas in the country get the help they need. We will encourage creations of local food markets, allotments, community gardens and community-led nutritional education.

Most crucially, with this plan, as well as our host of policies to make the welfare system fairer, Labour will halve food bank usage by the end of our first year in office.

Anthony Mangnall (Conservative):

Awaiting Answer.

How we can continue to trade either with or without a deal using the VAT special margin scheme with the EU?

FULL QUESTION: Can any candidate tell me, because HMRC can not, how we can continue to trade either with or without a deal using the VAT special margin scheme with the EU? The government and HMRC have both been asked this question and no one can answer it. It is used for second hand goods, antiques, art and vehicles. Without this goods will be too expensive and many businesses will go under due to having to pay 8.2% duty and 20% VAT on our goods instead of 20% VAT on the profit margin only. HMRC say it is not mentioned in any “deal” at all and that only new vehicles are mentioned so they have no idea what the future holds. If we fall out without a deal, it will mean VAT and duty on the entire price and this will shut businesses down. Can someone please explain definitively what our future is. Do we shut down now and lay everyone off or have you a workable solution?

Awaiting Answers...

How will the candidates begin to undo a decade of Tory cuts?

FULL QUESTION: How will the candidates begin to undo a decade of Tory cuts?

Louise Webberley (Labour):

The last decade of cuts - down to both the Tories and the Lib Dems - have inflicted untold misery on communities up and down the country. A recent study linked the deaths of 130,000 people to the wide-scale cuts imposed by successive governments since 2010.

I will fight to ensure this constituency gets a fair share of investment.. Since 2011, Devon County Council has had £265mil of budget cuts, thanks to this government. Since 2010, Devon has lost 200 hospital beds and 7 community hospitals. In the same period of time, we have lost 17 police stations, 600 police officers and look set to lose 8 fire stations, and 30 fire engines.

This is outrageous and puts us all at risk. I am proud that Labour led the fight to oppose closures to Dartmouth hospital locally, but it is very disappointing that the community care that Sarah Wollaston promised would replace lost hospital beds has never come to fruition. She was the chair of the Health and Social Care Committee - yet when asked to oppose Dartmouth Hospital’s closure, said she was “powerless”.

Labour will invest £26bil a year in the NHS - £5.5bil more than the Tories are pledging. This represents the largest boost in NHS funding since Labour were last in power. We will end privatisation (which saw £9bil of contracts go out to private companies) and abolish prescription charges. We created the NHS - and we’re the only party who will fund it properly.

Unlike those of our opponents, our last manifesto was fully costed - as our manifesto for this election will be too. After 10 years of cuts, it’s too little, too late for the Tories to suddenly decide to spend again - although most of their pledges are nothing more than brazen attempts to woo voters. They have had a decade to invest and spend - why are these promises only being made now, during an election campaign?

What are the candidates’ personal opinions on the decriminalisation of cannabis

FULL QUESTION: What are the candidates’ personal opinions on the decriminalisation of cannabis and the right for anyone to grow one or two plants for either medicinal or recreational use?

Louise Webberley (Labour):

As with all policy, I always aim to take an evidence-based stance. In principle, the war on drugs has been an utter disaster, and has disproportionately penalised those from low-income and vulnerable backgrounds. There is definitely an argument that drug usage should be a public health issue, rather than a criminal one.

Whilst arrests for possession of cannabis have decreased, there is still a huge issue of current drug policies disproportionately targeting BAME people - who are far more likely to be arrested and imprisoned for drug offences than their white counterparts who commit the same crime. It would therefore be sensible to review the impact of UK drug policy, and this is something Labour will commit to doing - with a Royal Commission to review drug policies and legislation.

In terms of cannabis for medicinal usage, I agree with Labour’s stance - which is that we will allow the prescription of cannabis oil for medical purposes. Where there is evidence that cannabis may improve the quality of life of sufferers - for example those with chronic pain conditions like Fibromyalgia - it seems to me that there is no good reason to prevent access to it (in a regulated and controlled way).

It is not right that sufferers of these conditions are forced into a situation where they have to access cannabis illegally. Not only is it far more expensive than it would be if prescribed, it may not be safe to consume, due to street-level cannabis being cut with all manner of harmful substances.

How will each Party respond in order to help the poor who cannot afford to pay for NHS treatments

FULL QUESTION:

Charges for NHS services in some places have already begun : how will each Party respond in order to help the poor who cannot afford to pay for treatment; especially in the light of the billions wasted over the Brexit process these last 3-4 years & the likelihood of further cuts to medical services in the future.

Louise Webberley (Labour):

Under Labour, no one will have to pay for NHS treatments. That is because, unlike the Tories and Lib Dems, we completely oppose NHS privatisation. In 2018/9, over £9bil was spent by the Tories on private contracts - we must not and will not let this continue.

We created the NHS all those years ago, to provide free at the point of use care for everyone, no matter their bank balance. And under a Labour government, we will ensure that remains the case. The Health and Social Care Act 2012 - passed by both Tory and Lib Dem MPs - ensured that private companies had to be given the chance to compete for NHS contracts. This has been criticised by many within the healthcare industry - including the British Medical Association, who support the repeal of this Act.

Alongside this, we will make prescriptions free for all - saving money by removing the costly means-testing component (which actually costs more money than it saves). We will also bring medicine production in-house, run by the state, to ensure that big pharmaceutical companies cannot exploit the NHS and over-charge for medication.

 

What is your policy on the pensions that women who were born in the ’50s have been denied?

FULL QUESTION:   What is your policy on the pensions that women who were born in the ’50s have been denied? My pension age went up in one jump from 60 to 66 years of age. Does your Party have plans to increase the pension age yet further?

 

AWAITING ANSWERS...

After 9 years of austerity, all parties are splurging. What are your views on this?

FULL QUESTION:     In 2010 the outgoing Secretary of the Treasury left a note saying “there is no money left” 9 years later all parties want to start spending again. To use an analogy we sold our Mercedes and made do for 9 years with a second hand Vauxhall. Now our credit rating says we can afford to buy a new vehicle on H.P. will it be an all singing and dancing model again or is it better to choose the cheaper option.
Candidates views would be appreciated.

What will you do to maintain parental rights and abolish the school holiday fines for a two week period?

FULL QUESTION: What will you do to maintain parental rights and abolish the school holiday fines for a two week period to ensure good parents but often poorer don’t get classified as criminals.

AWAITING ANSWERS...

Please enter your concise questions below:

 

  23 comments for “Who will you vote for? Ask your questions here…

  1. Gerry Connolly
    6th November 2019 at 9:32 pm

    What would a local Conservative MP do to help those homeless on the streets of Totnes?

    • Peter Shearn
      11th November 2019 at 9:12 am

      Thank you for your question. (To make your question applicable to all candidates we have modified it slightly). It is in the section above – “What would you do to help those homeless on the streets of Totnes?”

  2. Lauren
    6th November 2019 at 9:35 pm

    Question to all candidates:

    We are in the midst of a climate emergency. What are your views on fracking and how can we save our planet in the years to come?

    • James Heaven
      7th November 2019 at 7:04 am

      Question for Anthony and Louise,

      Trust in politics and politicians are at an all time low, with our representatives saying one thing and doing exactly the opposite. Nowhere is this higher up the agenda than in this Totnes Constituency, where 53% of voters supported a Conservative Sarah Wollaston in 2017, but ended up with the third placed Liberal Democrat manifesto.

      How can we trust you to keep the promises you make and restore our faith in democracy?

      Regards,

      James

    • Peter Shearn
      11th November 2019 at 9:13 am

      Thank you for your question. . It is in the section above -^^

    • Peter Walsh
      14th November 2019 at 9:50 am

      In 2010 the outgoing Secretary of the Treasury left a note saying “there is no money left” 9 years later all parties want to start spending again. To use an analogy we sold our Mercedes and made do for 9 years with a second hand Vauxhall. Now our credit rating says we can afford to buy a new vehicle on H.P. will it be an all singing and dancing model again or is it better to choose the cheaper option.
      Candidates views would be appreciated.

      • Luddington
        14th November 2019 at 7:07 pm

        Well said
        People have forgotten that we were in serious debt as a country and we had to do something.
        How short are people’s memories.
        It is because of austerity that we can loosen the grip.

  3. Helen
    6th November 2019 at 9:46 pm

    Anthony,

    In the last 10 years of Tory government, food banks in the UK have increased from 47, to around 2,000. The Trussel Trust accounting for around 1,200 of these. The number of supplies to these food banks has increased by 73% in the last five years. How do you view food banks? And what do you think this steep rise in their use, means for British citizens as a whole?

    • Peter Shearn
      11th November 2019 at 9:14 am

      Thank you for your question. (To make your question applicable to all candidates we have modified it slightly). It is in the section above as
      “How do you view food banks? And what do you think this steep rise in their use, means for British citizens as a whole?”

    • Peter Shearn
      11th November 2019 at 9:23 am

      Thank you for your question. It is in the section above –
      “How do you view food banks? And what do you think this steep rise in their use, means for British citizens as a whole?”

      • Hazel
        14th November 2019 at 6:48 pm

        I asked this question to Anthony. He has yet to reply.

  4. 6th November 2019 at 10:01 pm

    pauliewonder@hotmail.com Can any candidate tell me, because HMRC can not, how we can continue to trade either with or without a deal using the VAT special margin scheme with the EU? The government and HMRC have both been asked this question and no one can answer it. It is used for second hand goods, antiques, art and vehicles. Without this goods will be too expensive and many businesses will go under due to having to pay 8.2% duty and 20% VAT on our goods instead of 20% VAT on the profit margin only. HMRC say it is not mentioned in any “deal” at all and that only new vehicles are mentioned so they have no idea what the future holds. If we fall out without a deal, it will mean VAT and duty on the entire price and this will shut businesses down. Can someone please explain definitively what our future is. Do we shut down now and lay everyone off or have you a workable solution?

    • Peter Shearn
      11th November 2019 at 9:20 am

      Thank you for your question Paul. Your question is very specific, presumably because this will affect you directly however we have asked it in the section above as:
      “how we can continue to trade either with or without a deal using the VAT special margin scheme with the EU? “

  5. John Caley
    6th November 2019 at 10:05 pm

    Anthony Mangnall (Con). The Conservatives called an election in 2017. The people voted and the Conservatives lost their majority. It was the will of the people. Is your party going to keep on having elections until it get the result it wants?

    • Peter Shearn
      11th November 2019 at 9:21 am

      Thank you for your question, however this appears to be rhetorical?

  6. Hazel Strange
    8th November 2019 at 7:33 pm

    Anthony Mangnall, The Conservatives have been in power for 9 years. During that time, and the ensuing austerity, Food Banks, (which were unheard of before then) have proliferated. How do you feel about this?

    • Peter Shearn
      11th November 2019 at 9:22 am

      Thank you for your question. (To make your question applicable to all candidates we have modified it slightly). It is in the section above –
      “How do you view food banks? And what do you think this steep rise in their use, means for British citizens as a whole?”

  7. 10th November 2019 at 9:42 am

    How will the candidates begin to undo a decade of Tory cuts?

    • Peter Shearn
      11th November 2019 at 9:48 am

      Thank you for your question. It has be placed in the Q&A section above.

  8. Mary Jane
    11th November 2019 at 10:16 am

    What are the candidates’ personal opinions on the decriminalisation of cannabis and the right for anyone to grow one or two plants for either medicinal or recreational use?

  9. Fiona Green
    12th November 2019 at 6:50 am

    Charges for NHS services in some places have already begun : how will each Party
    respond in order to help the poor who cannot afford to pay for treatment; especially
    in the light of the billions wasted over the Brexit process these last 3-4 years & the
    liklihood of further cuts to medical services in the future.

  10. Peet Hahn
    14th November 2019 at 9:57 am

    What is your policy on the pensions that women who were born in the ’50s have been denied? My pension age went up in one jump from 60 to 66 years of age. Does your Party have plans to increase the pension age yet further?

  11. Len
    14th November 2019 at 10:28 pm

    What will you do to maintain parental rights and abolish the school holiday fines for a two week period to ensure good parents but often poorer don’t get classified as criminals.

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