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Spelthorne

Spelthorne is located in Surrey in the south of England. It was created in 1918 and has been held by the Conservative party for all but 5 years since.

The current member of parliament is the Conservative party’s Kwasi Karteng, who has served since 2010.

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

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

Candidates

Paul Couchman

Background
I have been an active trade unionist and socialist all of my adult life. I grew up on the council estates of Heston and Feltham. Going to Isleworth Grammar School taught me a lot about the class society we live in. I initially worked on the Railway lines between Feltham and Windsor as a permanent way track worker. I was a shop steward in the national union of railwaymen (NUR, now the RMT) by the time I was 17.I spent two years working for the anti-poll tax federation in Glasgow in my early twenties. Organising opposition to Thatcher’s hated poll tax and defending non-payers from bailiffs.

I have been active in the disabled peoples direct action network (DAN) campaigning for accessible public transport.

I work with adults with learning difficulties. For the past 16 years I have been an activist in UNISON, the public sector union. I have been the full time secretary of Surrey County UNISON branch for the last seven years, representing 5,000 public sector workers in Surrey.

I was instrumental in setting up Save Our Services in Surrey and developing local campaigns to defend jobs and services. Most notably Spelthorne Fire Stations. See more at www.sosis.org.uk.

I live in Ashford. I am happily married to the amazing Helen Couchman and a proud grandfather to Daisy, Jack and Violet. I am a member of the Socialist Party www.socialistparty.org.uk.

1. What do you plan to do in order to make sure you remain ‘in touch’ with the electorate?
I will take a workers wage, i.e. no more than the average wage for workers in Spelthorne where I live! The rest I will donate to working peoples organisations to help them campaign for the things we need. I will keep public accounts. I will not allow myself to become divorced from the people I represent by making money at their expense as they pay my wages. I will hold regular meetings locally and surgeries for people to come along and report their issues.The privileged few running Britain go from oak-panelled rooms in prep schools, to oak panelled rooms at Oxbridge and the oak panelled rooms of parliament. They’re completely at home. We need a complete change of politics – run for ordinary people and where their representatives only rise in the world alongside the people they represent.

2. What makes you the best candidate for this constituency?
I have lived in and around the constituency for most of my adult life. I am the most public voice against cuts to local services as the Secretary of Save Our Services in Surrey (SOSiS). I have led high profile campaigns to defend care homes, fire stations, libraries and health services from cuts. I do not want the lifestyle of an MP, I want to use the position to promote and support public services – to act as a voice for the working class. I am not a professional politician, just a working class bloke who wants to change the world.
3. What has the current Member achieved that you believe has been successful?
Nothing. He does not live here. He didn’t even know Spelthorne existed before he was selected as the Tory candidate in the last election. He has been largely ineffectual.
4. In your opinion, is austerity working? What should we take from the state of the economy during this Government’s tenure?
For the 99% of us, No. Wages are down, we’re all having to borrow more. Services are going. We’ve had libraries, fire stations etc for centuries, now we’re told we can’t afford them.
Listen to politicians and you’d think the crisis was caused by too many lollipop ladies and firefighters rather than the financial system collapsing. They’re making us pay for their crisis. The government has made £80 billion in cuts, and guess what? In the same years, bankers and finance bonuses have added up to…Yes, £80 billion. That sums it up: pain for us, protection for the wealthiest. Austerity is wrecking many economies and a prolonged (depressionary) era faces us. But it needn’t be that way. 5 years of disaster, and whoever wins, the next five years are planned to be the same.
Austerity is working for some people – the rich, the bankers and other sections of the elite. It clearly isn’t working for the unemployed, the precarious workers on zero hour contracts, the students who are forced to take on massive debts in order to get through university and many others. Britain’s capitalist economy is weaker than they would have us believe, facing one if not two more parliaments of austerity to square their circle.
5. Does (legal) immigration need more limitations or is it vital for the UK?
Britain today is a society run in the interests of the 1% not the majority. Fat cat employers hire the workers they can get away with paying the least, and then try to lower all our wages in a ‘race to the bottom’. That is why Paul Sykes – who has bankrolled UKIP! – and many others have employed migrant workers. As a trade unionist I think we can stop the employers dividing us by getting organised to fight for decent wages and conditions for all.Migrant workers play a crucial role keeping our public services running. At the same time government cuts are destroying our public services, schools and homes while more and more people are using them, leading to inevitable resentment. That is why we need a united campaign for homes, public services and jobs for all.

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?
A £10 an hour minimum age is needed now not £8 in 2020 planned by Labour. By having wages indexed to prices, through legislation or unions fighting for it. Some workers haven’t had a pay rise in 10 years while the cost of living has soared. The cost of energy can be brought under control by renationalising the energy companies, introducing price controls and investing in cleaner, greener and more efficient electricity generation methods. Rent controls are an urgent necessity with private landlords taking advantage of the lack of supply and ripping off tenants. We will stop this.
7. How would you like to see the NHS change in the future in order to become more successful?
The NHS is the pride of Britain. Stop and reverse privatisation within the NHS. End PFI, Kick out private companies leeching off the NHS. The election of the Tory government saw adverts across the United States business pages inviting private firms who’ve messed up USA’s health care to come and get a share of our £100 billion budget.Unfortunately New Labour pushed the process of privatisation by stealth. Only TUSC, as socialists, can be trusted to defend a public NHS. We think the pharmaceutical companies should be nationalised and run to meet the needs of patients, not shareholders.

There is as high as a 12-15 year difference in life expectancy between wealthier and poorer areas in Britain. Social change and a more equal society itself will also generate better health.

8. What measures do you think need to be taken to decrease unemployment, particularly youth unemployment and those who have never been employed?
We would create more jobs by reducing the working week without loss of pay and share out the work, we would make cheap loans available for small businesses to expand and we would invest in a major eco friendly house building programme, tackling the housing shortage and creating many jobs at the same time. We would ban zero hours contracts and offer a triple guarantee: an education, an apprenticeship or a job. In the sixth richest economy on the planet we should be able to organise society so that people’s needs are taken care of once they leave school.We would pay for this by introducing a levy on the £800bn lying idle in the vaults of British big business which they are refusing to invest and we would also crack down on the estimated £120bn tax avoided and evaded by the wealthy each year.

9. Does the lack of diversity in Parliament equate to a lack of representation?
There aren’t enough socialists in parliament and working class women and men are not sufficiently represented. Ethnic minorities are also under-represented. Parliament and the government should reflect the communities represented but the electoral system we have doesn’t and we think that we need to look at how the system can be changed so that it can more fairly reflect different politics and types of people that make up the population.
10 . If an EU Referendum were to take place, how would you encourage your constituents to vote and why?
I’d say ‘Out of the bosses’ EU’. (for a socialist Europe) We reject the narrow nationalism of Tory and UKIP opposition to the EU. The establishment parties are only arguing over how best for the wealthy to rule, in or out of Europe.
The EU is the free market gone mad and it’s messing up the European economy because it’s designed for big companies, not the working peoples of Europe. That’s why it’s also an undemocratic stitch up – for instance if any of its people vote to reject an EU policy they’re ignored and told to vote again until they get the ‘right’ answer. We’re for uniting Europe, but on an equal and socialist basis, the existing system is impoverishing many and breaking up Europe. As such we oppose the EU and its’ Lisbon treaties.

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