Philip Davies – flip flopping on International Aid

October 22, 2010

Back in April I sat in St. Paul’s Church in Shipley listening to Philip Davies say that he was committed to spending 0.7% of the UK’s GDP by 2013. At the time Philip was looking for votes to be re-elected for a second term as Shipley’s MP. I was able to record him saying this at the hustings and you can view it on Youtube here.

He now sits comfortably on a 9944 majority.

In amongst the announcements this week about the spending review was a reaffirmed commitment by the government to be paying 0.7% of GDP in International Aid by 2013. In the last few days Philip has been quoted in the media as saying ‘If there isn’t enough money for domestic priorities, then there isn’t enough money to spend abroad. We should concentrate on making sure existing aid money is better spent and we need to be careful that we do not have poor people at home funding rich people abroad’. (Daily Mail).

Of course this is likely to be a popular line, but it’s not what he said in April.

His last sentence about poor people at home funding rich people abroad is the opposite to fellow Conservative MP and Secretary of State for International Developement, Andrew Mitchell MP, who has frequently said ‘It is morally right to ring fence this budget. We are not going to balance the books on the backs of the poorest people at home and we are not going to balance them on the backs of the poorest people on the planet as well’.

Philip’s quote will go down well. When 500,000 people look likely to lose their jobs in the public sector (not likely to be rich people) and the further impact on the private sector and voluntary sector this might have. When some of the most vulnerable of our society look likely to loose vital welfare support (not everyone is a benefit cheat or scrounger as the media and government would have us believe). When 40,000 teachers and support assistants might loose their jobs… Philip’s anger at the increase in development aid seems justified.

Philip insinuates that international aid is proping up corrupt regimes – this is wrong. Aid isn’t the answer to dealing with extreme poverty across the world, but it does help people survive. Of course if you ask Philip to take action on the things that could change things – he’s reluctant.

However Andrew Mitchell’s not telling the whole story either. Morality is vitally important. Justice and the protection of the most vulnerable of our world are essential. But I can’t see that this is what the spending review has done. Rather it appears to me that the most vulnerable of our society are being asked to pay the bill for the risks and excesses of the wealthy and powerful. Where is the morality and justice in that?

For politicians getting elected for another term of parliament can often mean that you blow with the wind.

Perhaps Philip’s more recent quote in the Daily Mail is closer to his personal views than what he exclaimed before he was re-elected.

Sitting on a 422 majority was a precarious place to be. Sitting in St. Paul’s Church at a hustings perhaps he felt he couldn’t express his true feelings about development aid, just in case it made him look uncaring.

I’m not sure, but in just six months he’s changed his public statements on such things.


Please help me evaluate the blog

May 14, 2010

So life is returning to normal for me now that the election has passed and we have a new prime minister and government.

I’m personally going to keep engaging with politics and Shipley’s MP Philip Davies (I did this before starting the blog).

I’ve been very surprised by the numbers of people who’ve been reading my posts. I started with about 20 people taking a look. In the last days before the election this was up to 400 – 600 hits per day. Overall the blog has had nearly 5000 hits during its life.

To help me think about what next for the blog (if anything) I’ve decided to ask readers to complete an online survey. There are three sections to the survey (reviewing the blog, what happens next, and a review of how people voted). Click here to take the survey

If you’d like to talk about getting involved next time email me at

Gone for lunch…

May 8, 2010

Hi folks thank you all for following and reading this blog. I hope you’ve all found it interesting if not useful. I’ve enjoyed writing it, but it has taken it’s toll. I don’t intend to leave it here and I hope to ask you all about what to do next with an online survey in a bit.

However, the need to love and care for my family and also to make sure that Christian Aid Week (I work for Christian Aid) happens well next week (if a volunteer knocks on your door this week and asks you to donate to help some of the poorest communities around the world help themselves out of poverty – I hope you’ll respond) I’m going offline for a few days.

But I’ll be back and I hope you will too.

In the meantime can I suggest that you join and create an email alert for every time Philip Davies speaks in parliament (or your MP if you live outside Shipley Constituency). It seems to me that people have engaged a little more in politics recently. Let’s not leave it here. Remember Philip’s pledge ‘Your interests, not self-interest’ it’s up to his constituents to hold him to that.

And finally I thought it was worth copying a couple of comments from the previous post about the result in Shipley. My comment makes a lot of assumptions, but I imagine to a certain degree there’s an element of truth to this.

Martin Jones Says:

i’m interested that lots and lots of LibDem voters must have voted Labour here to try and keep Philip out and still ended up with a /fail, gg folks. Libs would probably have come second like the good old days of William Wallace (Lord Wallace of Saltaire) had you followed you heart instead. Ah well, we’ll be doing it all again before Christmas no doubt.

whoshouldshipleyvotefor Says:

Martin – I’m not sure that many Lib Dem voters did vote Labour to keep Philip out. The Liberal vote went up from 7018 vote in 2005 to 9890 votes this time (2872 up).

The Conservative vote went up from 18,608 to 24,002 (5394 up). And the Labour vote dropped from 18,186 to 14,058 (4128 down).

The only other vote to drop in Shipley was the Green vote 1,665 to 1,477 (188 down).

Now. There were 49427 people who voted in Shipley out of 66708 people (73%) which is 1761 new voters on last time.

If you make some sweeping assumptions that those voting BNP in 2005 (2000) voted for Philip in their absence this time – that’s 3394 votes for Philip not accounted for.

If you make another sweeping assumption that those 1761 new voters were eager to say goodbye to Gordon Brown and also voted Conservative – that’s just 1633 votes unaccounted for.

A couple more sweeping assumptions that those 1633 votes were previous Labour voters that floated to the Conservatives – probably feeling let down by Gordon & Labour. That’s 2495 people that didn’t vote Labour this time but did in 2005.

So let’s make our final assumption that these 2495 people decided that the Lib Dems best represented them – that’s only 377 votes short of the 2872 increase for the Lib Dems.

So I suspect the opposite argument is true – lots of Labour voters voted Lib Dem & Conservative.

There are far too many assumptions here to throw any weight behind this assessment.

I’ve also not mentioned boundry changes (they weren’t massive, but they have played their part), or the fact that lots of people have moved into the constituency since 5 years ago and a good number have moved out.

However you look at this, Philip has a significant majority now.

Philip Davies re-elected

May 7, 2010

For me the most disappointing thing about this result is the huge increase in majority for Philip by nearly 10,000 votes. Most of the people that voted in Shipley voted for someone other than Philip – but only just (1423 more people voted against Philip than for him).

Philip will be delighted with this result returning Shipley to the land of safe Conservative seat.

The figures:

Philip Davies, Conservative 24,002

Susan Hinchcliffe, Labour 14,058

John Harris, Liberal Democrat 9,890

Kevin Warnes, Green Party 1,477

73% turnout

My hope following this result is that Philip will recognise through this process that many people still strongly disagree with him. I hope he will really try to live up to the pledge ‘Your interests, not self-interest’.

For me I commit to continuing to hold Philip to account as Shipley’s MP. I hope that everyone in the Shipley constituency will also engage with politics beyond the general election and write to Philip, visit him, ring him etc about the issues we’re all concerned about.

I’m thinking about what next for this blog. There will be at least another post about this to come in the next day or two.

But for now a message to all the candidates:

Thank you for engaging in this blog. Thank you for all your efforts fighting this election. I hope over the next couple of days you get to rest after a hard fought campaign.

And to Philip:

I’ll be in touch.

So who did I vote for?

May 6, 2010

As promised earlier today here’s my post about who I voted for, how I got here and why.

I’ve never done anything like as much research into candidates and the parties they stand for before casting my vote. My original inspiration to write this blog was from a desire to engage fully in what looked like one of the most interesting elections in my lifetime. I wasn’t wrong – this election has been fascinating. Who would have thought even six months ago that we were heading for anything other than a majority Conservative government. Of course that might still be true, but it looks like it will be a narrow one if that.

I hoped to try to get past the spin and bias in our media, all the PR and marketing we’ve all been subjected to and take some personal responsiblity in finding out about the candidates standing and their politics. I think it’s an outrage that our media is anything but free. Anyone looking at the front pages of today’s paper should realise that none of our newspapers are independent – it was a surprise that even The Guardian decided to support a particular party. I won’t say much about this but Rupert Murdoch clearly has a lot of say in our politics owning Sky, The News of the World, The Sun and The Times. Also the Daily Mail and General Trust own another chunk of British media.

In 2005 I voted in Shipley for the Liberal Democrats. They had the best chance of getting my vote before I started researching a bit more about candidates. My family have Lib Dem history, including an uncle who is a local councillor in Lancashire. I was surprised by Nick Clegg in the leaders debates and found myself warming to voting Lib Dem again.

I did not vote for John Harris. It is nothing personal about John he seems like a principled man who will work hard as an MP if he’s elected. Neither John or the local Lib Dems have worked hard enough for my vote in Shipley. I never received a flier from them and their website has little information about them or John. I also find it hard to understand how a councillor from Richmond would be the best person to represent Shipley.

My voting preference started to shift a bit more once I started getting in touch with candidates. Kevin Warnes made an immediate impression when I discovered that he agreed with a lot of my thoughts about climate change and international development. I also started reading their policies and completing all those online questionnaires (like vote for policies, vote match etc). I came out strongly Green on all of these (Lib Dem 2nd, Labour 3rd). Kevin impressed me hugely at the Shipley Hustings. I really warmed to him and part of his answer to the question ‘why should we vote for you?’ at that hustings swung me towards putting my X in his box. In fact just one week ago that was my decision.

The biggest issue for me has been to vote for the person that best represents my political views, the person I think would be the best MP and also the person closest to my views with the best chance of winning. I’ve flitted between these positions many times over the last few weeks. Even having a few restless nights over it all.

The other candidate that most impressed me was Susan Hinchcliffe. She seems solid, likeable and a hard worker. I didn’t agree with her about everything and I am put off by some of the things the party she belongs to has done in government (Iraq War, some of their spin about climate change, changes to income tax that affected some of the poorest paid). But Susan herself impressed me. I was also keen to hear that she didn’t agree with her party on everything – in particular committing to campaigning against the detention of children in Yarl’s Wood detention centre.

In then end it was Philip Davies that decided my vote. In researching for this blog I kept discovering more and more things that I disagreed with Philip about, often being quite offended by some of these (his action on the minimum wage & his support for the detention of children to name just two). I’ve written to Philip lots of times over the last five years and thought I knew most of the things about him. Even though, I was genuinely surprised by some of his political views.

I’ve found Philip to be a reasonable person when I’ve contacted him and he’s always replied to my emails and taken things up with relevant ministers even when not agreeing with me (quite often to be honest). But yesterday’s surprise email from him solidified my final decision that I no longer wanted him to represent me as my MP.

One final thing influenced my vote. David Cameron and the Conservatives would have us believe that Philip Davies is not typical of Conservatives. However, several things have happened over the last few months that have made me question this. I’m not eager to return to a Conservative government. I believe their priority is to buisness leaders and the wealthy and not to protecting the vulnerable of our society.

So because I think Susan will be a good MP for Shipley and also because she offers the best alternative to Philip Davies I voted for Susan Hinchcliffe.

I’m fully prepared to discover at 5am that Philip has been re-elected. In that event I won’t see my vote as a waste, because I think Susan is a good candidate for Shipley’s MP.

Who ever wins tomorrow I will continue to hold them to account as an MP. I hope that all those who’ve engaged in this blog will do likewise. I also hope that if Philip is re-elected he will recognise that there are a lot of people in the constituency that strongly disagree with his political ideas and work harder to live up to ‘Your interest, not self-interest’.

My vote is cast

May 6, 2010

So it’s done. I eventually made a decision, walked down to Northcliffe Church hall on my way to Shipley train station and put my X in the box for general and local elections.

I’m not going to tell you where that X went. Not yet. I’m saving that for after the polls have closed and I will explain a little more about the journey I have been on.

I was never intending to publish my vote, largely because it’s a secret ballot and I believe very strongly that this should be the case. However, after the last couple of days I feel that not to do this would be like have the final pages of a book ripped out.

I will not publish before the polls close at 10pm. I do not want to be accused of being partisan again.

I hope that anyone reading this blog will exercise their vote today. Voting is extremely important. You don’t even have to choose one of the canidadates. Spoiling the ballot is a legitimate action.

Not bothering to turn up on the other hand accepts that nothing will ever change and doesn’t recognise the incredible impact politics has on some many aspects of our lives.

I’ll be tweeting during some of the post-election broadcast and I’ll also write a piece on the result tomorrow morning. I understand that Shipley is likely to be declared sometime after 5am (set your alarm clocks folks).

Happy voting!

The four candidates – a summary

May 5, 2010

So last day of campaigning for our four candidates wishing to be Shipley’s next MP. Of course a number of people will have already voted by post, but for the rest of us there’s still time to make or change our decision.

So with that in mind I thought I’d try to summarise what I’ve discovered about each candidate over the last month and a bit. Perhaps it might help us make the last ultimate decision on where to put that X.

For any newer readers there’s a lot more about these candidates available on this site. Just click their names on the tag cloud and it’ll bring up posts about them.


Philip Davies (Conservative candidate and previous MP)

Philip has been Shipley’s MP for the last 5 years. He narrowly won a 422 majority in 2005 beating Labour MP Chris Leslie. The Conservative vote also went down on 2001, but not as much as Labour’s. One thought is that many former Labour voters switched to Lib Dems on an anti-Iraq war vote.

Philip is a Conservative rebel. He has sometimes rebelled against his party in key votes, such as being one of only five MPs (all Conservative) to vote against the climate change bill .

You can read about how he spent his five years as Shipley’s MP, how he voted etc – on this site

Philip has spent a considerable amount of time running a campaign against political correctness. He wrote a lot of letters to the Equality and Human Rights Commission including one asking ‘why it is so offensive to black up your face, as I have never understood this’.

Philip believes the UK is ‘better off out’ of the European Union. Which is why Lord Pearson (UKIPs leader) was campaigning for Philip in Shipley the other week and also why there is no UKIP candidate in Shipley.

He believes in the first-past-the-post voting system and opposes electoral reform and reform of the House of Lords.

My reflection on Philip:

Whenever I’ve spoken to or met Philip he seems like a decent human being. He has always responded to my letters and emails with an answer and has seemed quite approachable.

When I started this blog I was aware that we disagreed over many issues, however as I’ve researched more and looked further into what drives his politics I’ve been deeply disturbed by some his views and actions.

Philip is likely to be re-elected on Thursday.

So in Philip’s words… why should you vote for him?

‘I think people should vote for me for 2 main reasons. First and foremost I would like to think during the past 5 years I have proved myself to be a hard working and dedicated constituency MP who has got involved in the local community, gets involved in local campaigns, provides a high level of service to my constituents with prompt action and responses, and is someone who is prepared to be straight with people about what I believe in and is independently minded who is prepared to vote against my own Party when the need arises, and I have made it clear that I would not accept any promotion as a Minister so that I can ensure I can always speak out freely on behalf of my constituents.

The second reason is that we need a change of Government in this country, and because a Conservative Government would have the solutions to the major problems we face in this country, for example tackling the huge debts Labour have piled up and rolling back the central government state controls which have undermined our freedoms.’

Susan Hinchcliffe (Labour)

Susan is a regeneration manager for Buisness in the Community. She says she will work to bring more jobs to Shipley, thinking this is the biggest issue facing the constituency.

Susan thinks education is vital to ensuring the UK can compete in a global economy. She’s also keen to continue supporting early years education and not to see cuts in education spending.

Susan believes that governments should regulate financial markets and banks to mitigate the effects on ordinary working people.

She said that she will campaign against the detention of children and Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre. She said it’s wrong for children to be imprisioned.

She is in favour of electoral reform favouring the alternative vote system.

She’s passionate about supporting carers and improving elderly social care. She believes more needs to be done about climate change and global poverty.

She campaigned against Philip Davies’ attack on the minimum wage and the equality bill.

My reflection on Susan:

I’ve been impressed by Susan. She’s worked very hard campaigning to be Shipley’s next MP. I don’t agree with her on some issues, but she is approachable, likeable and has responded well to my many requests for information.

I was most impressed by her commitment at the Shipley hustings to campaign to stop the detention of children at Yarl’s Wood detention centre and if elected I will hold her to account on this.

And why should you vote for Susan? In her words…

‘Shipley should vote for me because I like to get things done, I work hard and I strive to be fair in all my dealings with people. I’ve also had a life before politics, 20 years of work experience. I didn’t have ambitions as a teenager to be a politician. However by wanting to get things done and by being an active citizen my participation in politics has gradually increased over time.

I joined the Labour party because of its stance on fairness and social justice and I’m proud of what we’ve achieved on things like the minimum wage, lifting children out of poverty and relieving pension poverty. We can’t take these hard won and progressive changes for granted though, we have to keep defending them to keep them. Only Labour is equipped to do this.’

John Harris (Liberal Democrats)

John is a Lib Dem councillor in Richmond, North Yorkshire. He’s a former science teacher and is married to Baroness Harris of Richmond.

He believes strongly in protecting human rights and civil liberties. He believes that the UK needs to increase its manufacturing. He also things education needs to be accessible to all and about more than just exam results.

John regularly defaulted to Lib Dem policy on issues such as the economy, poverty and education. He believes in electoral reform favouring a proportional representation system. He offered no comment on reforming the House of Lords, but it’s reasonable to assume he would agree with Lib Dem policy on this.

My reflection on John:

John seems a solid candidate, but at the Shipley hustings he struggled the most to present himself well to those gathered. I’m concerned that he’s a councillor in Richmond, N Yorks, as his knowledge of Shipley Constituency is limited – this showed at the hustings.

Also the Lib Dems are the only party that have failed to even leaflet my street. I understand from others that their leaflet came in a plastic bag, which is a little concerning for a party that suggests that it’s doing its bit for the environment.

I don’t believe either John or the local Lib Dem party members have done enough canvessing and campaigning in the constituency for John to be elected as Shipley’s next MP. In Bradford East however (where many of the Lib Dem activists have been).

John has been the candidate that has taken the longest time in responding to the emails I’ve sent him.

I’ve been very disappointed by the Lib Dems locally – in 2005 they got my vote in the Shipley constituency.

And why should you vote for John? In his words…

‘I hope the electors of Shipley will vote for me because:
I’ll be a hard working MP who will represent the interests of all electors.
I believe members of our communities should work together for mutual benefit.
The Liberal Democrats have a workable set of policies to bring about a fairer society.’

Kevin Warnes (Green Party)

Kevin is a Green Party councillor in Shipley ward. He’s worked hard as a local councillor and was re-elected in 2007.

As you would expect Kevin is passionate about issues such as climate change, transport and our use of energy. But, don’t think that’s all the Green Party and Kevin stand for.

Kevin believes we need good education and the government needs to fund this. He gave the strongest response to the detention of children at the Shipley hustings, saying not only that they shouldn’t be detained in Yarl’s Wood, but also in prisons full stop.

Kevin believes the economy should put people first and protect the vulnerable in particular. In fact generally Kevin believes that our economy needs to be managed to bring fairness and protect vulnerable people and the environment.

The Greens would invest in public services. This would largely be paid for via some savings (such as scrapping Trident), but also through improving and increasing taxation. Kevin believes you get what you pay for.

If elected Kevin would only accept half the current MP salary. He also believes in the ingle Transferable Vote system of proportional representation for general elections. He would push for a 100% elected House of Lords.

My reflection on Kevin:

I’ve been impressed by Kevin. He’s a likeable and intellegent candidate. He’s helped me see that the Green Party stand for a lot more than just environmental issues. He was passionate, challenging and well spoken at the Shipley hustings – managing to correct and challenge other candidates whilst also showing them respect.

He gave an excellent answer to the question why should we vote for him at the Shipley hustings. Unfortunately my battery was flat on the camera so I haven’t been able to upload this to youtube.

Kevin has the biggest hill to climb to become Shipley’s next MP. The Greens only got 1665 votes in 2005 out of the 47,000 cast. If you placed a bet on Kevin as Shipley’s next MP and he won tomorrow – you will find yourself to be very wealthy.

And why should you vote for Kevin? In his words…

‘Because I have been a successful local councillor for the past six years, and for all the policies contained in our party manifesto that will be launched tomorrow! Why waste your vote on the old parties when we could put Shipley on the map with one of the country’s first Green MPs?’

So there they are the four people asking you to vote for them. I’ve now made my decision who to vote for. I might let you know that tomorrow and why I voted how I did, although I suspect those reading this post will be able to work some of that out.

On Friday I’ll post about the result and then I’m hoping to set up a survey to ask what next?

Happy voting tomorrow!


In light of a couple of emails I’ve had from Philip Davies today. I would like to point out to anyone that’s reading that I have put in my reflection on the candidates and their positions in this final post. Please use your own intelligence and recognise this bit of personal reflection. It’s very hard spending a month and a bit finding out about stuff not to be ultimately unbiased. These are the things that will influence my vote tomorrow. For you I cannot speak.

What was Philip Davies doing a year ago?

May 4, 2010

According to Philip’s tweets today he’s been ‘leafletting and canvassing like crazy across the constituency’.

But what was he doing this time last year as Shipley’s MP?

Last night I discovered that roughly this time last year he was working with his friend and fellow Conservative to try to scrap the minimum wage. Thanks to Youtube you can actually see him in action in parliament doing this very thing. In fact I must have missed the piece in the Telegraph and Argus and the Yorkshire Post about it as well (to be honest even without a general election, May is a busy time for me).

Now I’ve written to Philip about lots of issues whilst he’s been an MP and even as someone who thought he knew what his MP stood for this latest find as been a bit of a shock. I now see that Susan Hinchcliffe and Alex Ross (Shipley Ward Labour council candidate) actively campaigned last year against Philip’s action.

The minimum wage was, in my opinion, one of the best things the Labour government introduced.

What do others think? Is the minimum wage a good thing or is Philip right?

Shipley candidates on local issues

May 4, 2010

The general election is about electing a representative to parliament for Shipley constituency. Many of the local issues that face Shipley are relevant to Bradford Council and the councillors that are up for election on Thursday as well.

I haven’t covered the council elections – sorry. Not enough hours in the day and all that. However if you want a quick guide to who’s standing the T&A have a list of those standing.

So whilst a lot of issues are for the council to deal with I was interested in the views of Shipley’s candidates on local issues and the ways they can best represent us in parliament.

So I asked:

What is the most important issue facing Shipley? If elected how would you work to resolve this?

Philip Davies (Conservative)

‘It is impossible to pick out just one issue which is the most important across the constituency, especially as the different villages which make up the constituency all have different challenges and my duty as the local MP has been and would be to work equally hard on all of them to try to get them resolved.

However to pick out a couple which affect many different parts of the constituency…..

i) transport – Shipley like the rest of West Yorkshire is extremely congested on road and rail and I would like to see Yorkshire get a fairer slice of the transport funding cake to help alleviate these issues such as capacity on the wharfedale and airedale lines and also getting an effective solution to the congestion at Saltaire Roundabout.

ii) housing developments – I wish to see a stop to the environmental vandalism of building more and more houses on the countryside in the local area to meet central government housing targets. Stopping the development at Sty Lane, Micklethwaite and similar proposed schemes at Derry Hill in Menston for example is absolutely vital and to do that we need a Conservative Government which will end central house building targets.

I would also like to see the regeneration of Shipley Town Centre, and to bring about the improvements we have seen in Bingley in recent years.’

Susan Hinchcliffe (Labour)

‘Jobs. I would try and help increase the positive profile of Shipley regionally and nationally to make sure we attract our fair share of investment. However the businesses here are also likely to be those that are most able and ready to take people on. I want to make sure that programmes that are running in the rest of Bradford to encourage work opportunities and enterprise are also applied evenly in Shipley. I believe passionately in the positive impact business can make in a community. It doesn’t have to cost business anything however they can reap huge commercial benefits from their involvement. People who have been long-term unemployed can often make the most loyal, hard-working and positive people in the workplace’.

John Harris (Liberal Democrats)

‘Shipley is a diverse constituency and the varied issues raised on the doorstep reflect that. For some people it’s a poor local bus service and overcrowded trains at commuter time; for others it’s lack of meaningful things for young people to do; such issues are generally ones for Bradford Council to address.

Boosting the local economy would be a key issue for me; if elected as Shipley’s MP I would aim to promote inward investment and create more jobs. I deplore the way in which manufacturing industry has declined under the Tories and then Labour, it is trade that generates real wealth for our country.’

Kevin Warnes (Green Party)

‘The way we use energy. In short, we need to power our homes and businesses in more sustainable ways; and travel in ways that use less energy. We need to do so in order to cut our rising energy bills, reduce our reliance on diminishing supplies of oil and gas; increase our energy security; and cut our greenhouse gas emissions.’

If elected how would you work to resolve this?

‘The Green Party has the most ambitious programme for energy managements of all the major parties. It is all there in our manifesto and on our website’. –

Local transport does come up a couple of times here. For a little more on the views of the candidates you can watch them answer a question about this on Youtube.

The election is so close now. Tomorrow I intend to post a summary on each candidate. Hopefully by now most people reading this blog are closer to a decision about who to vote for. I’m nearly there. After the election I will report on the result and then perhaps ask you about what happens next.


May 4, 2010

It’s not been debated as strongly as issues such as immigration and the economy but according to IPSOS MORI, education is one of the five most important issues to the electorate. Because of this I invited each candidate to summarise their views about education. Only two candidates did this, Philip Davies (Con) and Kevin Warnes (Green) pointed us towards their manifestos.

Susan Hinchcliffe (Labour)

‘Teachers are better paid and schools are better funded than they ever were and this has resulted in a rise in standards. As a school governor I find it immensely frustrating to hear opposition politicians talk about “failing schools” when I know that the staff work so incredibly hard and are so professional in how they teach children.

Going into classrooms I find that primary school children have a far more structured and stretching education than when I was their age. The science of education is also now better understood, teachers have an excellent knowledge of different learning styles, and know how to get the best out of children.’

John Harris (Liberal Democrats)

‘Always a central concern of the Liberal Democrats. Our central proposal is for a ‘pupil premium’ , of £2,500 per disadvantaged child from a background of poverty, to be given to the school where the pupil attends. This will bring £43 million to Bradford schools. Each school would then decide how best to use the extra funding.

As a former teacher I recognise that the crucial element in a child’s success at school is the approval of parents; the link between schools and parents should be fostered and developed, some good progress has been made in Bradford schools.’

So as two of the candidates didn’t comment beyond their party manifestos I asked them all another question. This time in particular about potential cuts in education spending.

How can an effective education system be achieved if spending is reduced?

Philip Davies (Conservative)

‘With regard to education, there are many issues which can be addressed that do not need money to resolve. For example we need better discipline in schools and we need to give schools more freedom to set their own ethos and discipline codes and more powers to keep to them (and for example not have appeals panels overturning the decisions of headteachers to exclude a pupil).

We should scrap league tables which give schools a perverse incentive to not focus on the very brightest and the least able children but only to concentrate on the borderline students, and we should trust teachers to get on with the job without excessive state controls and bureaucracy.’

Susan Hinchcliffe (Labour)

‘We’ve not said we’re going to cut education however the increases will inevitably be smaller than in the last 10 years which will provide it’s own challenges. Bradford has also one of the fastest growing populations of young people in the UK so money in absolute terms should increase because of the increased volume. Everybody however wants value for money. The investment we’ve made in early years education I think is key to providing value for money and I would want to see this prioritised.’

John Harris (Liberal Democrats)

‘For me this means not only good exam results but also one that results in a young person who grows into a responsible adult with a positive attitude who can realise his or her full potential. The most effective encouragement to do that is the approval of parents and all schools should aim to build links with parents.’

Kevin Warnes (Green Party)

‘A good education system requires the following: good local schools with local control over admissions policies; smaller class sizes and smaller schools in general; more freedom for teachers to teach (including an end to SATs testing); an end to student tuition fees for Higher Education; a phased end to the two tier public-private education arrangements that we have at present; a phased end to City Academies and Trust schools; better school meals and more physical activity during the school day; and more support for parents who want to educate their children at home.

And I do not agree that spending should be reduced. In education, as in life, you get what you pay for.’

Finally, at the hustings the other night there was a question about tuition fees and student loans. I’ve not managed to put the answers of our candidates up on Youtube yet (will hopefully do this tonight). I’ve provided a summary of what they said below:

Philip Davies (Con)

Personally opposed to tuition fees (although the Conservatives are pro-tuition fees). Too many people go to university. We need to reduce the number going to university and offer alternatives.

Susan Hinchcliffe (Labour)

We need more graduates. We need more skilled people in our economy. Growing economies of China & India have more skilled people than we have people. We have a big economy for the size of nation. To maintain that position we need to reach the top of their game. Someone has to pay we have some of the top quality unis in the world. we need to pay for that. A graduate should earn double what a non graduate will earn in their lifetime.

John Harris (Liberal Democrat)

I feel very uncomfortable with student loans. It creates a debt culture. Phase out tuition fees. Questions whether everyone going to uni should be. Need to invest more in alternatives such as appretaships.

Kevin Warnes (Green Party)

Eduation is a right not a priviledge. Students in Leeds choose to apply to ledds met. We live in a high skilled economy – we need a good graduate work force. State should provide opportunity.