Meet the general election candidates for Kenilworth and Southam

Five candidates are standing for the Kenilworth and Southam seat on Thursday's general election, and here are their reasons on why you should vote for them:

Monday, 5th June 2017, 2:42 pm
Updated Thursday, 8th June 2017, 3:39 pm
From left: Rob Ballantyne (Greens), Harry Cottam (UKIP), Richard Dickson (Lib Dems), Bally Singh (Labour), Jeremy Wright (Conservatives)

Rob Ballantyne (Green)

During my time in Kineton I have worked with Heart Start, a volunteer group that works with the ambulance service, as chairman, treasurer and First Responder. I have also served as a parent governor at Kineton High School.

I joined the Green Party in 2008 after reading Heat by George Monboit. It was obvious to me that the main Westminster parties simply weren’t taking climate change seriously enough, and something much more radical was needed.

In fact, they’re still more concerned with their own short-term electoral prospects than with making the decisions needed to address our long-term survival. For me, though, the thing that really makes the Green Party stand out from the other parties is that it is the only party that is prepared to stand up against global capitalism, and explode the myth of perpetual economic growth which is not only impossible in a finite world, but results in environmental destruction and ever-increasing inequality.

It’s no good saying that the economy has to come first and the environment will have to wait. If we don’t have a decent environment, we don’t have anything. We have to realise that we are totally reliant on nature for our survival, rather than think that we can be its master. I don’t want my children to grow up in an impoverished world where the only animals are the ones we keep on farms or in zoos, and where only the few at the top prosper, while the rest are left to struggle.

We need real change and not more of the same failed policies of the traditional Westminster parties. We need to protect the environment, public services and the rights of ordinary working people against the greed of multi-nationals, and that’s why I’m standing for the Greens.

Harry Cottam (UKIP)

I am again standing as Parliamentary Candidate for UKIP for Kenilworth and Southam having previously stood in 2015 coming third after the Labour candidate and Jeremy Wright.

You may ask yourself: “Why vote UKIP now Britain is leaving the EU?” On this issue it is vitally important that the Tories know there are many of us who don’t want this country to be humiliated by the EU.

I firmly believe the Government will capitulate to the EU, doing anything to secure a “deal” agreeing a huge “exit fee”. We don’t need to pay whilst starving our social care, NHS and other essential public services of monies and keeping our laws and justice system subservient to the EU and keeping the European Court of Human Rights - these things are not what we who voted to leave the EU voted for! Only a vote for UKIP will send the message that needs to be sent to Theresa May to ensure Brexit really means Brexit.

UKIP is the only political party against the ridiculous HS2 project - a complete waste of billions of pounds destroying the homes of many of you in the constituency and thousands of acres of beautiful countryside. It’s still not too late to stop this madness.

We are the only party to be against so-called overseas development aid. The massive savings we would make can be ploughed into the NHS, invested in vocational education (another worthwhile policy about which only UKIP is serious) and making our essential public services really work properly rather than being under-funded as they are at present, as well as reducing the tax burden for small businesses and hard-pressed families.

I believe we can be the only real credible opposition to the Tories - vote UKIP.

Richard Dickson (Liberal Democrats)

All elections are about how we govern best for the common good and this particular election is about three main issues.

What does a good Brexit look like and how will we ensure we get the final say on it? How can we get more investment in our public services – education, health and social care especially? And, thirdly, how can we ensure our local MP properly reflects the needs and wishes of local residents and communities?

I have lived in Kenilworth for 25 years and have actively worked against a hard Brexit. Whilst campaigning actively last year, it was clear that there was a significant majority of people in the area who supported a ‘Remain’ vote. Many more oppose the decision of this right-wing government – for which our current MP has been so active in the courts - to go for a ‘hard Brexit’. This spells disaster for many employers in the area and therefore for local jobs and local communities.

I have recently been elected as the first Lib Dem councillor in the St John’s area of Kenilworth. In the past six months I organised a petition against the closure of the local NatWest branch. In 2015 I led the collection of donated items in Kenilworth for Calais refugees and I’m a trustee at the Kenilworth Centre, having been involved also with Waverley Day Centre. I currently run a national education charity and previously worked in financial services in the Midlands and London.

Based on the most recent county council elections, when our share of the vote was much greater than the other non-Tory parties, the LibDems are the main challengers to the Conservatives in this constituency. For a positive Brexit for us to vote on, for more investment in public services and for an MP who properly reflects the needs and wishes of local residents, I’m your man.

Bally Singh (Labour)

Initially selected in early 2014 by local members from the Kenilworth and Southam constituency, I secured a strong second place in the 2015 general election. I’ve helped efforts to protect Wellesbourne airfield, campaigned for road safety and helped to block Coal Gasification under the Warwickshire countryside.

I’ve been a councillor since 2010, and was recognised as a finalist of LGiU ‘New Councillor of the Year Award’ in 2011, and finalist of the ‘Community Champion’ Councillor Award in 2015.

I’m also a trustee of Normandy Day UK Ltd, a charity promoting the history of the Second World War and in particular, the 1944 Normandy Landings.

In 2015, I got more votes than the Liberals and Greens combined. So, in this year’s general election, the Tories can be stopped if all of the voters who oppose their cuts and hard Brexit plan join together and vote Labour.

If elected to Parliament, I will immediately vote to scrap Conservative plans for a hard Brexit, and secure single market access for British industry, agriculture and services instead so that we are not made worse off.

I will also vote to end NHS privatisation. We need to integrate social care into a secure, fully-funded, free-at-use comprehensive health service. Labour pledge an immediate halt of hospital closures. Under Tory government plans the Warwickshire region will suffer £267 million of NHS cuts!

On education, I will vote to restore the funding to schools cut by the Tories - offering free education for all, guaranteeing quality apprenticeships and adult skills training. In Warwickshire, schools will LOSE £31 million under Tory plans by 2020. Kenilworth and Southam has an important national role to play in changing the direction of our country.

Jeremy Wright (Conservatives)

Over the next two years, our Prime Minister will be engaged in difficult negotiations on the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union. However you voted in the referendum, it is in all our interests that these negotiations go well and that the Prime Minister has the strongest possible support from the people and Parliament of the UK in getting a good deal. Having worked with her in government, I am in no doubt that our national interest is best served by Theresa May continuing as our Prime Minister. On June 9, either she will lead our country or Jeremy Corbyn will – a weak leader of a divided Labour Party, almost certainly propped up by an unstable coalition of other parties like the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish Nationalists.

There are many who say this cannot happen, that the Conservatives are bound to win. But the pundits and the pollsters have been wrong on several occasions recently. We live in unpredictable times.

I have been privileged to be Kenilworth and Southam’s MP for the last seven years and believe it is important to be part of the community you represent.

I live in this constituency with my family. We use local NHS services and my children attend local state schools.

I am proud of the work I have done at Westminster – setting up the All-Party Group on Dementia for example – and I am proud of the work I have done in Government, as Minister for Prisons and Rehabilitation and now as Attorney General.

But I am most proud of the help I have been able to give to constituents in need. Most of that help does not make headlines but it can make a big difference to individuals, families and communities. 
I will be asking for your support to continue doing that work over the next five years.