- What first motivated you to get into politics? What issues are you passionate about?
This might sound a little cliché, but I was moved by a sense of duty and responsibility, and a huge desire to make a difference. My feeling of duty was towards those around me: my family, my community and most of all my adopted home (the UK). Responsibility – because if we don’t each chip in who will? We can’t want change and expect others to realise it for us.
As for making a difference, it is the duty of us all, and it doesn’t have to be anything grand or elaborate. Sometimes all it takes to make a difference and improve someone’s day is a warm smile.
I am passionate about empowering people, particularly young people, and helping them achieve their potential.
- What attracted you to the Conservative party?
As an entrepreneur who believes in small government and big people, my natural home was always going to be on the right of politics. I believe business is the backbone of the economy and is the engine that generates jobs, which in turn generate incomes and the taxes that make society and the state function, not the other way round.
Of course, the state has a duty to protect its citizens from foreign and domestic threats. It also has a duty of care to those who either permanently or from time to time need a helping hand.
My core beliefs are founded on trusting people and allowing them to control their own lives by making their own decisions. People are much happier and stronger when government trusts them. That satisfaction reflects and filters through to their families, communities and the country.
Happy people raise happy families; happy families create happy dynamic communities, which in turn build stronger nations.
- Given the public’s disengagement with politics, how do you think political parties can reconnect with voters?
Political parties need to talk to the public, not at them.
- Why should voters support your party?
In the past five years, the Conservatives – in a coalition with a partner who did not always support everything they wanted to achieve – brought the UK’s economy back from the brink of total collapse and built one of the strongest economies in the developed world. We also cut income tax for 26 million people, froze fuel duty, therefore reducing the cost of many vital products, kept mortgage rates low and introduced business policies that saw employment figures soar to their highest in history – 1.85 million people in work since 2010.
Imagine what more we can achieve with a full Conservative majority.
- Name one policy from your party that you think is a “game changer”, that you think will make a real difference to the lives of ordinary people, and explain why.
Our long-term economic plan which turned Britain’s economy around – by cutting the deficit, backing small businesses and enterprise, and helping to create jobs – a result of George Osborne’s stewardship, last year made Britain the fastest growing major economy.
A sound economy means good schools, better health care, stronger security, and a healthy pension. Simply put, a sound economy is confidence inside and outside the UK.
- If your party ceased to exist, which party’s ideology would be the closest to your party’s ideology? And would you join that party?
The Conservative Party is a broad church and I find some elements of my ideology in other parties, but none is a close fit and for that matter I can’t see myself joining any other party.
- If you had to pick one issue that you feel isn’t being addressed by the government or an issue on which we need to have a wider and more honest discussion about as a nation, what would it be?
As an immigrant, I would like to see immigration discussed proactively without the labelling and finger pointing. Its merits and drawbacks deserve to be frankly and freely discussed, because only then will we address all concerns honestly.
- Are you in favour of leaders’ debates or do you think they are a bit of a distraction?
I was in favour of the leaders’ debate last time, but they proved to be a distraction and not quite suitable for our style of politics; they suit presidential elections best. And since in the UK we elect each Member of Parliament on his/her own merit, I think they are a useless time-wasting exercise.
- What should the health service of the future look like – if the NHS has finite resources, how should they be spent? Is it more cost effective to outsource services?
Despite its cost, the NHS should continue to be free at the point of use, and cost should be reduced through better management of resources. Like most modern businesses it should focus on value for money, particularly with regard to management costs. The NHS should never have more mangers than caregivers. So yes, in some cases where it’s more cost effective to outsource some services, they should be outsourced competitively.
- What do you consider to be one of the biggest challenges facing young people today and does your party have any policies or proposals that could help?
Most young people want a good education, a secure job and a good home so they can start planning and thinking about the future.
This government did all that. It strengthened the education system by freeing communities to select the best system of education for themselves through free schools and academies. It also changed the tuition fees system, thus allowing students from all backgrounds equal opportunity for higher education – now students only pay back fees after earning over £25,000 a year. It introduced Help To Buy, where young people can buy their first home with only a 5% deposit and a 75% mortgage (the remaining 20% can be paid when the property is sold). It raised the minimum wage as well as the income tax threshold – 0% tax on incomes below £10,600 a year.
And, if elected, a Conservative government will build 200,000 new homes at a 20% discount for those under 40.
- What advice would you give first time voters?
As someone who regards voting as a civic duty, I encourage every eligible person to register and vote. The last day to register for the 2015 General Election is 20th April, and you can register online here.
Of course, I would say vote Conservative. Besides the obvious reasons, unlike the last election, this time we have a taste of what a David Cameron premiership looks like. He is the leader with the vision and the plan for a stronger and better Britain. He is a tried and tested leader who took on the difficult job of strengthening our economy and our society, and took tough decisions on the world stage.
In coalition much of what the Conservatives promised could not be achieved, and we would like the opportunity to finish the job and together build an even stronger economy, a more secure future and a better Britain for now and tomorrow.
I will vote Conservative on 7th May and invite you to join me and do the same.
- What are your thoughts on the state of the immigration debate in the run-up to the election? Is there on issue related to immigration issue that you would say is a priority and why?
This nation’s biggest immigration issue is UKIP. Immigrants for centuries, worked, lived and fought side by side in Britain and did it mostly in perfect harmony.
As I mentioned earlier we need to be able to discuss the issue freely and candidly. But that can only be done when these discussions are frank and unsensationalised.
- Do you think we should raise the minimum wage (or, perhaps adopt the living wage)? Why or why not?
The minimum wage has increased and continuous to rise annually, plus inflation is dropping, add to that the lowest earners are out of paying income tax altogether which allows more people to keep more of their hard-earned money. Considering where we were before 2010 we are on the right track and should stay the course.
- Do you think the public sector can sustain more cuts and is there a social price to pay?
Contrary to Lefties’ propaganda, the public bill is still too high and can do with a little trim. Of course there are those who absolutely depend on state funding either due to illnesses or disabilities and they should be ring-fenced. However the rest can sustain some cuts.
Fairer welfare reforms, independence from the state and increasing the state pension are all welcome improvements. Some might not agree with me and I accept that, but living beyond our means is unfair and painful for everyone. And, if we avoid doing it with our own money, we shouldn’t do it with the publics’ money.
- What is one policy or measure that you think would go some way towards making sure the benefits of economic growth are felt by all?
Our long- term economic plan.
- Should Britain remain in Europe? Why or Why not?
The two other main parties don’t think there is anything wrong with our current relationship with the EU. To address the EU question head on, first we need to elect a majority Conservative government. By returning David Cameron as Prime Minster, to Downing Street, he and the Conservatives will renegotiate our relationship with the EU to bring back more powers to Britain. If the negotiations fail, in 2017 the matter will be put to a referendum for the people of Britain to have their say on whether we should leave or stay as members.
- Any final reflections you’d like to share ahead of what is touted to be one of the most unpredictable elections for a number of years?
English Votes for English Laws is an issue none of the other parties are taking seriously, but the Conservative party feels it’s unjust to for Scotch MPs to vote on English ONLY matters when English MPs understandably can’t do the same.
Fairness, justice and equality are at the heart of every Conservative policy and that is why under a Conservative government MPs form Scottish seats would be stripped of the power to “impose” income tax rate changes on England.
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Kiri Kankhwende is a Malawian journalist and blogger specialising in immigration and politics. She has a background in French and Chinese language studies and holds an MSc in International Political Communications, Politics and Human Rights Advocacy. An accomplished public speaker, she has also written for the Guardian and the Independent, and been a contributor on BBC TV and radio, Al-Jazeera and Fox News, both as a member of the Media Diversified network and in her role directing media advocacy for CSW, a human rights charity specialising in freedom of religion and belief. Twitter: @madomasi
‘The Other Political Series’ curated by journalist Kiri Kankhwende is your go to alternative to the colourless mainstream commentary ahead of the General Election in May 2015. #OtherPolitics highlights issues and perspectives that are being overlooked in the election debate and presents different angles on some well-trodden issues.