UK election: Interview with Hadleigh Roberts, Labour parliamentary candidate

UK election: Interview with Hadleigh Roberts, Labour parliamentary candidate

In advance of the UK election on May 7th, GRI sat down with Hadleigh Roberts, the Labour Party parliamentary candidate for the Thornbury & Yate constituiency.

The countdown has started, the UK is almost ready to go to the polls, but many are still undecided in what is considered one of the most uncertain and contested general elections in years. The debate and doubts affecting voters rotate around a number of issues; namely Europe, immigration, pensions, education, taxation and the NHS.

To better understand and shed light on what’s at stake, Global Risk Insights sat down with Hadleigh Roberts, Labour Party candidate for the Thornbury & Yate constituency.

Q: Immigration is seen by many as the most important issue in the upcoming election. What’s your take on it?

Immigration is one of those issues that comes up time and time again. People do not make a distinction between migration from the EU, the Commonwealth or the rest of the world. Nor do they distinguish between economic migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.

It is well known that fear of immigration is highest where immigration is, in fact, lowest. To take a local example, inner city Bristol is very diverse and immigration is rarely cited as an issue but, conversely, in my constituency in Yate, a far more homogenous community, not a day goes by where I don’t hear the phrase “I’m not racist but…”.It is perfectly reasonable to want fair controls on migration, and the Labour Party had made this a central plank of its platform, but the debate is seen through a far-right prism that is deeply worrying.

Q: The NHS has been directly linked to immigration for the issue of “welfare tourism”, but the finance problem is perhaps being ignored. The NHS is often crucial in shifting votes – will this be the case again?  

Hadleigh Roberts is the Labour candidate for Thornbury & Yate

Hadleigh Roberts is the Labour candidate for Thornbury & Yate

Yes, the fight for the NHS is what will decide many people’s votes. The Government’s reorganisation of the health service, which has opened the doors to privatisation, is deeply unpopular, and the Tories’ last-minute pledge for an extra £8 billion has been derided as totally un-costed.

There is a drive to integrate social care and mental health care into the service, and Labour intends to undo much of the damage for the past 5 years.

Q: The election comes just a month after the start of the new tax year and it has already sparked a fresh battle between Labour and the Conservatives over their respective economic plans. What’s the best recipe?

Tax is typically considered a dull, technical issue for an election campaign, but a spate of tax-dodging scandals involving high-profile celebrities and corporations has put it at the front of the public’s mind.

Labour made a bold move to scrap the ‘non-dom’ status, then the Tory party responded by offering a £1 million exemption from inheritance tax. It is, in a sense, a classic tale of the Left wanting to raise taxes on the rich to avoid spending cuts, and the Right wanting to cut them in the hope that wealth trickles down.

Q: In 2010, turnout among voters aged 65 and over was 76%, thus their weight on the final result is undeniable.  Have they become the target of tactical politics and is the pension system sustainable as it stands today?

Ironically, though I am standing against the Minister for Pensions, this has barely been mentioned throughout the campaign. However, the pensions system has changed dramatically and dangerously under this Government.

On retirement, people can now cash in their entire pension fund and do with it as they please. I fear that this is a very dangerous move that could lead to a huge mis-selling scandal, with people losing their savings and needing the State to bail them out.

Q: Finally, a comment on Europe and the possible referendum that could lead to a Brexit.

Europe has not featured as prominently as I might have expected. It has been relegated to a leitmotif of immigration or, of course, the various different promises about a referendum.

Categories: Europe, Politics

About Author

Giovanni Puglisi

Giovanni Puglisi is a freelance journalist, media analyst and communications consultant. He writes for a number of publications in Europe, while his experience in managing clients streches accross continents. Giovanni holds an MSc in European Social Policy from the LSE and a PG Diploma in Communication, Journalism and Public Affairs from Il Sole 24 Ore Business School.