Fringe Box



Candidate Interview: John Pletts – Green Party

Published on: 27 Apr, 2015
Updated on: 27 Apr, 2015

Martin Giles of The Guildford Dragon NEWS has invited each of the parliamentary candidates for the Guildford constituency to take part in a short, ten question interview. Each response was limited to 100 words.

He has marked each response out of three for the directness and quality of the response as he sees it. See if you agree. Marks have not been subtracted if a candidate appears to have diverged from his/her party policy but this may be mentioned.

john pletts

John Pletts, Green Party

John Pletts

1. What do you say to those who criticise the policy of more austerity? Where do you see further cuts being made or taxes raised in order to meet your spending targets?

You are probably correct and more cuts and/or tax rises may well happen after the election whoever wins. The Green Party has proposed new taxes and new expenditure on social programmes and on renewable energy projects to be paid for partly by increased borrowing.

I worry about the amount of extra expenditure we will have to incur to adapt our energy and transport infrastructure to the future. As an example cleaning up the nuclear site of Sellafield alone is expected to cost between £88 and £218 billion (albeit spread over many years).

Score 2 – Honest admission but is increased borrowing affordable?

green party logo 22. How can we afford to maintain ever increasing demand on NHS services?

Our manifesto provides for a lot of additional money for the NHS plus a further amount, increasing year on year to compensate for extra demand from our ageing population. We believe in trying to reduce the demand on the NHS by encouraging healthier lifestyles – I would have liked more emphasis on this.

We would encourage much more walking and cycling and we would raise the tax on alcohol and tobacco and also introduce an ‘unhealthy food tax’ which would subsidise fresh fruit and vegetables. We would make school meals free and allow extra money for organic food.

Score 1 – I am all for more walking and cycling too but that ain’t going to fund the likely increases in NHS spending over the next decades. But at least John is not afraid to mention one new possible tax and, speaking personally, I think he should make Jaffa cakes completely unaffordable, I need to be protected from myself.

3. Would you put any limit on immigration or do you think the UK has the capacity to absorb the current net immigration figures of over 250,000, year on year?

I think the UK should control immigration, although our ability to do this is currently constrained by our membership of the EU. The influx of immigrants from Eastern Europe, doing fairly menial work threatens our social cohesion.

The provision of university education to oversees students appears to be a growth industry and I would not discourage that but their own countries need these skilled graduates. Extra population increases the UK’s carbon footprint, particularly if immigrants are flying back to their home countries several times a year.

Score 3 – John’s answer is good, straightforward and honest. The point about the environmental cost of immigration is rarely heard and well made. However he is at complete variance with the utterances of his party leaders.

4. Do you think population growth globally and nationally is a problem? Doesn’t it inevitably cause more damage to the environment?

Population growth in the UK is certainly a problem. With our high per capita greenhouse gas emissions more people means more stress on the environment. Globally, population growth causes less immediate damage to the environment in countries, like Africa, where per capita emissions are very low. In countries like India and China which are adopting high consumption lifestyles like us, then population growth is undesirable. Latest information is that global food production has peaked.

Score 3 – Direct and insightful.

5. Your manifesto calls for a referendum on the EU. Would you personally vote to stay in or leave?

I have not yet made up my mind. I hope that there will be informed discussion of the issues prior to a referendum.

Score 1 – Sitting on the fence. There has been plenty of time to consider the issues.

6. Do you think that the UK should get rid of its nuclear weapons even if the majority of the electorate wants to keep them?

Yes. We need the money that would be used for an updated Trident programme to improve our conventional forces which are more relevant to most of the threats that we currently face. Having nuclear weapons did not stop the Argentinians from invading the Falklands. Having nuclear weapons might be a comfort if facing a threat from the Russians, say, but why would they want a Britain devastated by nuclear weapons, a landscape like several Chernobyls.

Score 2 – Direct answer but does not say why the public majority should be ignored.

7. Given that neither the Conservatives or the Labour Party are likely to muster more than 40% of the votes cast do you think that “first past the post” [FPTP] is still the best and fairest electoral system? Under the current system isn’t voting for the Green Party a waste of a vote?

We had a referendum recently on the voting system and the current arrangement was decisively preferred. In this election no other party has spoken at all about the environment and the increasing threats we face to planet earth. This being the case the only way that anyone can send an unambiguous electoral message of environmental concern is to vote Green. This is less of a wasted vote than a false vote in favour of Labour or Conservative.

Score 2 – True, we did have a referendum but is FPTP still the best and fairest system?

8. Do you agree with the Guildford Residents Association that the house building target for Guildford Borough  should be between 300-350 rather than the 650 figure put forward by Guildford Borough Council in the Draft Local Plan?

Not really. I think potentially there is more demand for housing in Guildford. As it is an attractive town many people working in the South East would like to live here. I do not mind more people coming to the town provided that the infrastructure can be enlarged appropriately. I would like to see energy inefficient houses, large old houses with big gardens, replaced with denser, zero carbon houses and flats. However endemic water shortages in this area poses a question about long term development in the South East, which would bring with it more water consumption.

Score 2 – Disagrees with lower figure but raises two important constraints, infrastructure and water supply.

9. How do you rate the performance of Guildford Borough Council over the last four years?

Unfortunately I have not followed the performance of Guildford Borough Council closely enough to answer your question.

Score 1 – This might be admirably honest but a parliamentary candidate for Guildford should have some knowledge of its local politics.

10. Some say your party’s policies are idealistic nonsense. How would you respond?

The environmental policies of the Green Party have consistently been ahead of other parties and currently are the only ones which are likely to produce a safe planet. Policies for the economy, transport and energy all try to show what a world with very low energy consumption would be like and we are on our own there as the other parties do not want to think about the future. Our future is likely to impose more equality both nationally and internationally. When judging our policies remember, they are more likely to deliver a safe climate than the other parties’ policies.

Score 1 – Environmental threats might well be the most dangerous that we face but I don’t think that John makes that argument here. Too much of the Green Party policy bows down to political correctness, in my view.

What do you think of John Pletts’ answers and of Martin Giles’ scoring and comments? Your view is just as important. Have your say by using the ‘Leave a Reply’ feature below.

Tomorrow we will be publishing our interviews with UKIP candidate, Harry Aldridge and Susan Parker of the Guildford Greenbelt Group (GGG).

Click here to see other candidate interviews.

These candidates are standing for the Guildford constituency in the general election:

Hustings Notice feature

Share This Post

Responses to Candidate Interview: John Pletts – Green Party

  1. Mary Bedforth Reply

    April 27, 2015 at 2:26 pm

    World War 2 was a defensive war when we fought for victory.

    Since then our wars have been offensive, against other countries and against people with different skin colours from ours, apart from Northern Ireland of course. I think of Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan…

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy. All comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *