The Croydon North by-election is on November 29, and Inside Croydon has put to candidates a set of questions. We will be putting the responses on the record, published without the artifice, interruptions and grandstanding of the usual hustings.
We hope that you will give all of these posts a read and compare the candidates’ answers on the issues that matter to you.
Here are the answers – including cancelling the incinerator and building more houses on golf courses – from John Cartwright, who calls himself John Loony when standing for election for the Official Monster Raving Loony Party.
What is your vision for Croydon?
A lively, vibrant, prosperous and harmonious community with a flexible market economy and a happy mixture of people of all races, religions and cultural backgrounds.
Tell us a little about yourself, your background, where you grew up and went to school and university, your work and family.
I have lived in central Croydon since I was 4. I went to Trinity School and Royal Holloway (University of London). I am happily single, and my siblings both live abroad.
How did you become involved in politics?
I was fascinated by the long list of candidates (and their party descriptions) in the Bermondsey by-election in 1983, and my interest in politics has been a side-effect of my interest in elections ever since. I am essentially a floating voter, in the centre-right of the political spectrum, and I find that the Official Monster Raving Loony Party gives me the flexibility to follow a variety of policies without being constrained by the main parties.
What are your interests outside politics? Languages, history, reading books, watching films.
Who would you describe as the biggest influences on your life and your political outlook? The radical reforms of Margaret Thatcher’s government, the liberation of eastern Europe when communism collapsed, and the gradual realisation that Labour governments always (not just sometimes) mess up the economy in the end.
What is your favourite part of Croydon? The town centre, the central library, and the shops in the Whitgift Centre and along London Road.
What are you proudest achievements? The 193 votes I got in the General Election in 2005 were enough to split the progressive vote, ensure the defeat of an unpopular Blairite MP, and enable the election of Andrew Pelling in Croydon Central.
Why is your party relevant to the people of Croydon North?
The OMRLP is the only party standing in the by-election which opposes the EU, supports proportional representation, an elected House of Lords, the European Convention on Human Rights, flexible immigration, and staunch support for the Monarchy.
Do you support the incinerator? No. It is a big mistake and there is doubt about whether it will ever be viable without importing rubbish from all over the south east.
What would you do to secure the extension of the tram to Crystal Palace? Wait a few years for the coalition to bring a recovery so that it will become affordable.
What do you think of the performance of the local council? The coalition government nationally is doing a good job, but the Conservative council locally is becoming increasingly arrogant and incompetent in the way that it deals with people, and jumps into big fancy schemes for the town centre, without thinking through properly whether they are viable. This is leading to neglect for other areas in the north of the borough.
What could you do to deal with the huge shortage of school places in north Croydon?
Education is a key priority for any society, so the necessary austerity measures should be targeted on luxuries. For example, the summer festival and Mela was nice to go to, but was not a basic necessity, and it was right for the council to withdraw funding from it.
Is it a criticism of the Conservatives that London Road traders lack their Riot Act compensation? No. I blame the rioters, looters and criminals who caused the damage in the first place. The economic damage which they did to the community serves as a message that their crimes won’t achieve anything. If possible, they should be pursued to provide compensation for the damage they caused.
What would you do to save the Croydon Supplementary Education Project? Make sure it is not targeted at restricted groups.
Do ethnic minorities and faith groups face discrimination in Croydon? The amount of discrimination and racism in society has diminished and reduced significantly over the last 20 or 30 years, and community and ethnic tensions are far less in Croydon (and London) compared with other towns and cities in northern England.
Flexible immigration laws will help the economy to flourish and prevent stagnation.
Do you agree with the Croydon Central MP that one hospital A&E should be removed from South London, namely St Helier’s A&E unit? Yes.
What would you do to protect public services? Continue and support the government’s necessary austerity measures so that the economy can be stabilised and recovered in the long-term. That means not spending more than we can afford, and it means cutting and finding efficiencies where necessary.
Ed Miliband has spoken out for decent NHS care for mental health. Do you back such an aim? Yes.
What is the solution to Croydon’s housing crisis? Build more houses on golf-courses.
Should the term for abortion be shorter than 24 weeks? Medical advances over the last 40 years mean that a limit of 22 or 20 weeks may be more appropriate – but it would be more relevant and better to reduce the delays and restrictions (such as the need for two doctors to agree) which delay women from having abortions if they need one. The emotional, medical and physical trauma of having an abortion is less if it can happen in the early weeks.
Should we have a referendum on our membership of the EU? No. We should have direct legislation to get out of the EU straight away – we don’t need a referendum.
Why are you pro-coalition? Because the coalition is doing the necessary austerity measures to get the economy out of the deficit and mess left by the catastrophic Labour government. The involvement of the Liberal Democrats in the government has helped to protect civil liberties, such as the abolition of ID cards, and prevented a resurgence of the authoritarian wing of the Conservative party.
The coalition is better than either a Conservative majority government or a LibDem government would have been.
Why do you want to bring Harry home? Because he is too important, as a senior member of the Royal Family, to be allowed to risk his life by serving in the war in Afghanistan – even though I recognise that he genuinely wants to be there. His royal activities should focus more on charity and community work, and military duties away from the front-line of a war zone.
Is it appropriate to fancy school boys? If some teenage actors or pop stars are over the age of sexual maturity, there is no harm in finding them attractive, just as millions of teenage girls and young women fancy them. I have never had any desire to have any sort of relationship with anyone of such an age, and I have never behaved inappropriately towards any young person.
The feedback which I have received from some of the famous young people I fancy (both in writing and in meeting them) is that none of them has said that my admiration for them was in any way inappropriate or made them feel uncomfortable. I am not ashamed to be gay and I am proud to live in a society which, in my experience, has always regarded the sexual orientation of candidates as being irrelevant to the real political issues in an election campaign.
What do you think about the UKIP candidate making gay marriage a by-election issue? I am not aware of what he has said on the issue, but it is proper for any candidate to raise any issue which they think is important. Marriage laws can be formulated in a variety of different ways, according to the cultural and religious background of the country concerned. If someone is against equal marriage for gay couples, then I would not regard them as homophobic without evidence on other issues such as anti-discrimination laws or the equal age of consent.
- We’ll be posting questionnaires from other candidates on a daily basis over the coming days. Tomorrow: Andy Stranack of the Conservative party
- Inside Croydon: For comment and analysis about Croydon, from inside Croydon
- Post your comments on this article below. If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or local event, please email us with full details at email@example.com
- Blue Plaque for Dave Sutch (plasweld.wordpress.com)
- Join the Communist campaign in Croydon (morningstaronline.co.uk)
- UKIP candidate McKenzie fails to deliver his own brothers (insidecroydon.com)
- Marisha Ray selected for Lib Dems in Croydon North (libdemvoice.org)