Ben Stevenson’s answers to Croydon Advertiser’s q&a

 

As part of their coverage of the election in Croydon North, the Croydon Advertiser sent a few round robin questions to all candidates. Here’s Communist candidate Ben Stevenson’s answers in full:

What would you do to improve the public image of Croydon North?

This is presumably a question for those parties that have lots of policies on cleaning up dog shit and street lamps. I’d start by improving Croydon North itself rather than worrying about its public image. We need jobs, we need investment, we need public facilities, we need democratic accountability, we don’t need image consultants. Croydon is not a tourist destination or a concept it’s a community of people. I’d concern myself with improving the lives of the people of Croydon North first – that would be an example worth fighting for and promoting across Croydon, London, England, Britain and the rest of the globe.


Name one thing you have done, or would do, to make Croydon North a better place.

Bring democracy back to the people. Set up local street level bodies and fighting for the transfer of real powers to them. We’d also fight for more powers for the local council, stop political parties from being able to pay companies to do their job for them. Introduce a spending limit on campaigns and donations to political parties. Fight for the introduction of single transferable vote in all elections in England. Campaign for a federal democratic Britain with separate economic, legislative and other powers for Scotland, Wales, London (and other regions of England where it is wanted). Withdraw from the bosses club of the EU (a policy we’ve had for more than sixty years by the way) and end our involvement in foreign wars and costly expenditure on useless nuclear weapons.

 
What would you do to diversify Croydon North’s high streets?

Support the development of local small businesses and co-operatives
Our manifesto commits us to closing all tax loopholes and going after monopoly corporations and the super rich who own the vast majority of Britain’s wealth so we can help support and develop small enterprises and the cooperative sector. Not only would this benefit employers, it would benefit workers as well as cooperatives in particular eliminate the need for bureaucratic middle management (the David Brent’s of this world would be a thing of the past). 
Getting rid of the betting shops, pay day loans and cash for gold shops plaguing our high street. And I’d also work with others to ensure all Croydon council contracts new and old are with local public companies – particularly those cooperatively owned and run.

  
Croydon North is seen as a foregone conclusion electorally. What would you say to people to reassure them their vote is still worthwhile?

All the mainstream parties (including the likes of UKiP who are just as much a part of the political establishment as the rest of them) are counting on your indifference in this election, none of them are putting any resources, campaigning or even bothering to turn up on your doorstep or in your communities to find out what you care about and what you’re interested in. That tells you all you need to know about what they’re interested in – your vote and that’s it. They don’t care about truly fighting for or representing you. I do. Whatever government is elected, the people of Croydon North need someone in parliament and on their streets who will fight for them. What’s more we won’t disappear after the elections over. Communists in Croydon will continue to fight on the other 364 days of the year for the interests of ordinary hard working people.

 
What would you do to reduce the burden on Croydon University Hospital and improve the NHS?

Reopen neighbouring hospitals, facilities and build more (not through PFI!) to ease the pressure on Croydon University Hospital. Transferring services to GPs has just lumped work onto already overworked surgeries and erected another barrier between people and proper medical care. Reverse the Tories health and social care act and kick the profiteers out of our NHS. I’ve had personal experience of just how overstretched, bureaucratised and obsessed with delivering the lowest quality of care for the cheapest amount of money the NHS trust has become. I’d kick out Virgin health and set up a board composed of unions, doctors, nurses, patients and local representatives to run our hospital. We’d also either scrap or pay the tuition fees of any person in Croydon North who wants to get a medical degree – providing they commit to spending 6 years practicing I’m the borough when they start practicing.

 
How would you tackle the housing crisis in Croydon North?

Build more council housing rather than another yet another glass tower block with luxury apartments and shopping complexes. End the selling off of council housing stock. Introduce a rental cap of 50% of average earnings locally – reducing it each year until it’s at 25%. Scrap the bedroom tax. Provide a grant for all working families to enable them to meet the ridiculously high cost of private renting. Set up a dedicated private sector inspection team to look at the quality and overcrowding in existing private rental accommodation (only 37% of those owned by private landlords, meet the decent homes association standards whereas 100% of council housing does). All this and a hell of a lot more is in our pamphlet produced in 2010 to deal with the housing crisis in Croydon – when nobody else was talking about the issue.

 
What effect do you think immigration has had on Croydon North?
What would you do to improve the public image of Croydon North?
This  economic, legislative and other powers l

Croydon North is an incredibly contradictory constituency, it’s one of the most diverse parts of our borough – something that we should celebrate and fight to protect from racists, fascists and xenophobes. But it’s also one of the most deprived parts of London, immigration isn’t the cause of this it’s a symptom. In the 1950s immigrants from the west Indies and Indian subcontinent were blamed for the economic problems faced by white workers, it’s classic divide and rule tactics. The interests of working class people are the same whatever country they come from and whatever ethnicity they are. We are of course in favour of leaving the EU and NATO – and establishing proper mutually beneficial economic, diplomatic and friendly relationships between countries in Europe and the rest of the world. Investing in other countries (and other parts of Britain) and developing their infrastructure is the only way to reduce the level of immigration – people migrate because they’re looking for work and better lives. Britain is the sixth richest country in the globe it is a crime that has been perpetrated by a tiny minority (less than 1%) of the population on the majority. Austerity has actually made the rich richer and the poor poorer we’d end that trend and much more…
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