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Oxford West & Abingdon

The city of Oxford was one whole constituency while Abingdon elected it’s own representative until 1983.

The current MP is Nicola Blackwood who gained the seat for the Tories from the Liberal Democrats in 2010.

2010 General Election Results (Adjusted for non-voters)
Oxford West & Abingdon

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

Candidates

Mike Foster

Background
I’m Mike Foster, the Socialist Party of Great Britain’s candidate for
Oxford West and Abingdon. I’ve been in the Socialist Party since 1996,
after being attracted to its aim for a moneyless, democratic society. As
the Socialist Party believes that current society can’t be made to work in
our interests, it doesn’t claim that reforms can be of lasting benefit.
So, as a candidate, I won’t be making promises to tweak a system which is
inherently biased in favour of the richest. I’m standing to point out the
need to replace our current society with one which benefits everyone.
I write regularly for the Socialist Party’s journal The Socialist
Standard. Articles, and also talks given by myself, can be found here:
http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/author-speaker/mike-foster.
In my day job I work in homeless services, and in my spare time I design
and make mosaics.
1. What do you plan to do in order to make sure you remain ‘in touch’ with the electorate?
The Socialist Party is standing for election partly to highlight the lack
of democracy we have. Although parliament is elected, it doesn’t work in
the interests of the electorate. It defends the interests of the minority
who own corporations, none of which are run democratically. The Socialist
Party wants people to be more ambitious about what democracy could mean.
If all society’s institutions were run democratically, then decisions
would be made by and in the interests of the whole community. We believe
that we don’t need leaders, because people can think for themselves and
work co-operatively together. So, we’re encouraging ‘the electorate’ to
not just think of themselves as ‘the electorate’, but as able to have real
influence to change society.
2. What makes you the best candidate for this constituency?
I’m not standing in order to claim that I could play the Westminster game
for the benefit of people in the area. This is because parliament, and the
very way that our society is put together, can’t be made to work in the
interests of the vast majority of people. Instead, society is structured
to benefit the minority who own its resources. MPs who start out with good
intentions about reforms and representing their constituents soon get
stifled by cumbersome bureaucracy and made to follow vested interests or
the dictates of the elite. MPs who don’t start out with good intentions
probably have an easier job.
If you vote for the Socialist Party, you wouldn’t be voting to put me in
that position, thankfully. Instead, you’d be making the point that the
whole system which we live under has to be replaced by a genuinely
democratic society.
3. What has the current Member achieved that you believe has been successful?
My reply to question 2 also applies here. The Socialist Party does not
believe that any MP can really benefit the interests of their
constituents. This is because the MP is working within a system which is
inherently biased against the majority, and biased in favour of the
minority who own most of society’s wealth. Any ‘successes’ only last as
long as they fit in with the economic and political climate. Also, the
constituency of Oxford West and Abingdon includes over 78,000 voters: how
can one person be expected to represent so many people? So, the whole
framework of parliament isn’t really democratic or representative, so an
MP doesn’t have much chance of any ‘successes’.
4. In your opinion, is austerity working? What should we take from the state of the economy during this Government’s tenure?
Austerity measures, such as reducing staff and funding to public services,
have taken place in order to safeguard the financial viability of
companies and the state. Therefore they have been carried out to benefit
those who own society’s infrastructure. Those who rely on these
institutions for their income or wellbeing suffer when cuts are made.
This doesn’t mean that the government can control the economy through
legislation such as austerity measures. Periods of recession and growth
occur when markets become more or less profitable. Legislation has to fit
in with the way the economy is running. So, reversing austerity measures
wouldn’t work if the economy couldn’t support it. The economic system
itself is the problem because it doesn’t work in the interests of the
majority.
5. Does (legal) immigration need more limitations or is it vital for the UK?
Problems associated with immigration are really caused by the way the
world is divided into different nations. Countries, as the borders of
different states, represent the ruling class who own land and resources.
The vast majority of us have very little influence in how the country we
happen to live in is run. For some, a new start elsewhere may be the best
option. Other people become refugees when disagreements between those in
power turn into wars. Prejudice against immigrants distracts people from
understanding the economic reasons behind immigration.
The Socialist Party aims for a world without any national borders. Then,
people could move freely anywhere, without being forced to by economic and
political pressures. The artificial divisions between us which come with
our nationality would no longer apply. If the world was owned in common,
then we would live and work co-operatively for the benefit of everyone.
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?
Politicians and economists have been unable to find a balance between our
incomes and the cost of commodities which benefits everyone. This is
because our interests aren’t compatible with those of the minority who own
society’s resources. Society is run to make wealth for the ruling class,
so wages and prices will tend to be whatever makes most profit. This
system doesn’t work in favour of the majority who struggle to pay the
bills with meagre wages.
The Socialist Party wants everyone to work together to replace this
society with one of common ownership and free access. If society’s
resources were owned and democratically managed by the community as a
whole, then we could ensure that enough goods and services are produced.
Everyone would have free access to whatever they need and want, without
payment. If all work was voluntary, there would be no need for wages or
money.
7. How would you like to see the NHS change in the future in order to become more successful?
In our current society, the NHS is limited by what funding it can attract.
Regardless of whether this funding comes from the state or from private
companies, the NHS still has to survive in the same economic market as any
other business. Keeping costs low is one way to remain financially viable,
so the health service will always tend to be under-staffed and
under-resourced.
The Socialist Party aims for a health service which has all the trained
staff and resources it needs. The only way this could happen is if it was
part of a society where all resources are owned and democratically run by
the community as a whole. Then, we could work directly to benefit
ourselves and others.
8. What measures do you think need to be taken to decrease unemployment, particularly youth unemployment and those who have never been employed?
The Socialist Party advocates zero employment! Employment is inherently
exploitative. We sell our time and energy to an employer in return for
money to buy what we need. But, the amount we collectively receive in
wages is less than the value of the work we contribute. This is because
the employer needs to make a surplus or a profit, and this wealth stays
with them. As well as financially exploiting us, this arrangement means we
often feel powerless in an unfulfilling job.
The Socialist Party aims for a world where work is voluntary and
co-operative, without employers or employed. If society’s infrastructure
was owned in common, rather than by a minority, we could run it to benefit
everyone. We could work sustainably with all the resources we need,
without the market system holding us back. The reasons for the stress and
frustration of being employed – and unemployed – won’t exist.
9. Does the lack of diversity in Parliament equate to a lack of representation?
A parliament which reflects and represents the whole community is not
possible. Parliament, as part of the state, aims to manage our
infrastructure in an unstable economy. It can only do this by defending
the interests of the minority who own society’s resources. Therefore,
parliament represents the minority ruling class more than it represents
the vast majority. MPs are likely to have vested interests in various
sections of the economy, and aren’t likely to be from less wealthy or
well-connected backgrounds. So, parliament can never be truly
representative.
The parliamentary system is undemocratic because it’s biased in favour of
the ruling class. The Socialist Party aims for a society where the state
has been replaced by genuinely democratic organisations. Owned by the
community as a whole, they would reflect and represent everyone.
10 . If an EU Referendum were to take place, how would you encourage your constituents to vote and why?
It doesn’t really matter whether our laws are decided within the UK or in
Brussels. Wherever they’re decided, laws and trade deals will aim to
protect the interests of states and corporations. These organisations are
owned by a minority in order to make more wealth for themselves. The
problem is that laws and trade deals benefit a minority, rather than where
that minority lives.
So, the Socialist Party would encourage people to vote neither ‘yes’ or
‘no’ in an EU referendum, but to instead support world socialism. In this
society, decisions which affect large areas like Europe would be made
democratically, either through elected, accountable representatives or by
direct voting. This could only happen if society was owned and managed by
the community as a whole.

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