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Bracknell

Bracknell is located in Berkshire in the south of England. It was created in 1997 and has been held by the Conservative Party ever since.

The current member of parliament is the Conservative party’s Phillip Lee who has served since 2010.

2010 General Election Results (Adjusted for non-voters)
Bracknell

For more information, click here to visit the Wikipedia article.

Candidates

Patrick Smith

1. What do you plan to do in order to make sure you remain ‘in touch’ with the electorate?
I believe that restoring the link of trust and accountability between MPs and their constituents is vital to rebuilding the integrity of British politics.

I am a local resident and will always live in the constituency. There are important local connections and shared experiences that connect communities which an MP who does not live in their constituency cannot appreciate. I live in the same neighbourhood as my prospective constituents, shop in the same supermarket, eat at the same local restaurants, in a few years my son will go to one of the same local schools…

I intend to run regular local surgeries, so I will always be accessible to constituents, and plan to spend at least a day per week working in the constituency. I will also maintain and develop links I already have with local community organisations and charities.

2. What makes you the best candidate for this constituency?
At a time when faith in politics is at an all time low, local residents need an MP they can trust; who shares their values and understands the issues and challenges they face. As an ordinary, hard-working Bracknell resident with a young family I understand exactly what life is like for local people, because I live among them and am an active part of that community.

I am committed to restoring integrity to politics and appreciate the righteous anger of many ordinary people as continued Westminster scandals reveal a political class who are often more concerned with their own interests than those of their constituents.

3. What has the current Member achieved that you believe has been successful?
Although in the turmoil of the campaign it might not always come across, I have a huge amount of respect for anyone brave enough to step into politics. It is a tough and increasingly undervalued role.

I disagree with Phillip Lee on the overwhelming majority of issues, but I respect that he is a man who stands up for what he believes is right.

4. In your opinion, is austerity working? What should we take from the state of the economy during this Government’s tenure?
The last five years have been about rescuing the economy from the brink of collapse. I am proud of the part the Liberal Democrats have played in that; taking tough decisions when needed, but also restraining our Conservative coalition partners where they would have cut much deeper at far greater social cost.

It’s a simple reality that the government cannot continue spending more money than it brings in indefinitely without very grave consequences. Government debt is approaching dangerous and unsustainable levels and if we allow it to continue to soar it will ultimately harm everybody, rendering our government financially incapacitated and leading to a scenario far worse than the current levels of austerity. We only need to look to the example of a country like Greece to realise how bad things could potentially be if our government were not fiscally responsible.

We have made strong progress on getting control of the budget deficit, and it is vital that the job is completed, but it must be done fairly. That means not just cutting government spending but also increasing taxes on the richest in our society so that they pay their fair share. Long term we must also commit to increasing spending again as the economy grows.

5. Does (legal) immigration need more limitations or is it vital for the UK?
I am deeply concerned about the rhetoric surrounding immigration that is becoming common place in this country.

Many of us are feeling that life is only getting harder at the minute; wages are being driven down, the cost of living is rising, house prices are completely unaffordable, public services are overstretched, and our neighbourhoods sometimes feel like they have lost that sense of community so central to British cultural life.
I want the people to Bracknell to understand that if that is how they feel, I feel it too. But immigration is not the major cause of these problems.
At times like this it is more important than ever that we refuse to be duped or fobbed off with easy answers that are too good to be true. The Liberal Democrats are serious about controlling immigration and ensuring that it works to our net benefit, that is why we are committed to re-introducing full entry and exit checks to the UK’s borders; so that the government have the right tools and information to get a proper handle on the thousands of immigrants who are living here illegally. But we refuse to engage in the shallow politics of blame, stigmatising good people who have come here legally to work hard and contribute their skills to our economy.

I recognise the important contribution many immigrants make to our country, in particular the fact that immigrants bring a net overall benefit to our economy, and I will support controlled immigration where it is in the UK’s best interests or where there is a moral duty to protect those seeking genuine asylum. I will be courageous in the face of intolerance and xenophobia, building policy on evidence as opposed to dogma.

6. Many people are concerned about the cost of living in the UK, with wages having failed to rise in line with the price of food, energy and rent in recent years. How can this be corrected?
Over the last five years the Liberal Democrats have secured the economic recovery at the same time as reducing taxes for millions of low-middle income workers. I am proud of our record in government, but if there is one major area I believe we can still do better it is tackling economic inequality.

For too many low and middle earners wages have stagnated and failed to keep pace with the cost of living, whilst the richest in our society seem to have come out of the economic crisis better than ever.

In the next government the Liberal Democrats will continue to support low and middle income workers by further reducing the taxes you pay, increasing the tax-free personal allowance to £12,500 so that someone working full-time on the minimum wage barely pays tax on any of their income. After this we want to explore ways to do the same with National Insurance contributions. When times are tough it is not right that a person working hard and doing the right thing, yet not being paid enough to live on, is expected to sacrifice a large portion of their earnings in tax.

We are also committed to working with the Low Pay Commission to find ways of raising the National Minimum Wage without harming businesses and jeopardising the economy. I support the Living Wage and in the long run want to work to bring the Minimum Wage up to this level, so that everybody working a full-time job earns enough to support a basic standard of living.

7. How would you like to see the NHS change in the future in order to become more successful?
The biggest single issue for the NHS at the moment is funding.

We have a fantastic health service, it is simultaneously rated as one of the highest performing and most economically efficient in the developed world, but it is being put under pressure because demands are increasing and the budget is not.

The Liberal Democrats are committed to increasing the NHS budget by £8bn by 2020, in line with figures recommended by the Chief Executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens.

The NHS is sustainable, in fact it is far cheaper to society than the insurance based models found in many other developed countries, but if it is going to continue to perform there needs to be the political will to protect it and fund it properly. This will only continue to be the case as we transition into an older society with greater levels of chronic healthcare requirements.

8. What measures do you think need to be taken to decrease unemployment, particularly youth unemployment and those who have never been employed?
To create jobs we need a strong economy full of successful and growing businesses, that is why the Liberal Democrats have done everything necessary in government to secure the economic recovery.

Unemployment has been falling consistently throughout this Parliament, and whilst there are some worrying trends concerning the rise in zero hours contracts, the majority of new jobs created are full-time.

At the same time as creating new jobs we need to ensure our workforce is appropriately qualified for a modern, skilled market. We’ve delivered huge achievements in terms of the number of young people pursuing apprenticeships – now over 2 million during the last Parliament. The apprenticeship programme is one of the most important things the Lib Dems have done in government, ending decades of failure to support those young people for whom university is not the right course of further education and training.

9. Does the lack of diversity in Parliament equate to a lack of representation?
Yes.
10 . If an EU Referendum were to take place, how would you encourage your constituents to vote and why?
Britain is stronger as a member of the EU. Withdrawing from Europe would be grossly damaging to our economy, to the economic recovery, to UK jobs, and to our influence in the wider world.

The EU is not perfect, it needs reform, but you can only deliver that by being a committed member. The more the UK toys with the prospect of leaving the EU the less influence we have to negotiate and enact the reforms we want.

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