I’m a bit of a politics geek at times, so I know that officially the nominations for the parliamentary constituency in which I live closed at 4:30pm yesterday (Thursday) afternoon. As it happens, there were no late surprise entries and the information at YourNextMP proved to be complete. I have already written to three candidates (Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green); the remaining two (Conservative and UKIP) are never going to have my vote because they are teh ev0l boo hiss!
One interesting fact: in this constituency, the Tories and UKIP have female candidates; the supposedly centre or centre-left parties are all fielding male candidates.
Anyway, tonight’s post is simply to share with my readers the email I have sent to the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green candidates. There are other questions I could have added, but I feel all of these are important issues that could influence how I vote – and on which, should they be elected, I would be expecting my MP to present my views to the relevant persons in government. (Before I moved, I had a really good MP for that, but he was a Tory; here, not so much, and I realise now how lucky I am to have that benchmark for what a good MP does for those they represent.) A lot of it is copy-pasted from my letter to the European Parliament candidates last year (and I forgot to edit the “this year” section on the surveillance issue – though there have been plenty of stories since to keep that topic relevant).
I chose to ask the candidates’ opinions rather than demand they support this or that stance, because I want to feel they are on my side rather than just saying something to please me. Nevertheless, I feel that the text makes my positions relatively clear.
– * –
Letter To Candidates
I am writing to you because you are standing for election to Parliament in the General Election that is being held on 7th May this year. As I am a voter in your constituency, the successful candidate will be my elected representative in Parliament for the next five years, so I want to ask a few questions about your beliefs and policies so that I can cast my vote in an informed and considered manner. I am much more interested in your personal views, in addition to your party’s policies, because you will be my representative and not merely a member of your party.
I am currently unemployed, and qualify as long-term unemployed. Recent research has shown that a more generous and stable benefit system for the jobless is more effective at helping people like me into work than a punitive system. My experience of claiming Jobseekers Allowance has unquestionably been one of instability, fear, and indignity, each following the other. How will your party deal with the unfairness of not just Jobseekers Allowance rules and regulations, but the wider issues within the benefits system?
I have in the past campaigned on issues of internet privacy and the surveillance society, and against censorship of the internet, particularly of sexual or political material. With revelations this year about the USA’s surveillance operations, including prominent European leaders, what are your views on how we should deal with privacy for the individual versus openness of political or business organisations? When it comes to the control of the flow of information or media, I believe that freedom of speech and communication is vital, even when it means allowing material we find objectionable or unpleasant.
Where do you stand on the attempts to prevent portrayals of sexual fantasies featuring adults being communicated via the internet? Is sexual fantasy, even of unusual or “extreme” nature, harmful to society or a matter of individual preference that harms no one?
Related to these questions, I also campaign at times on the issues of sex workers’ rights. Several organisations of sex workers, such as the English Collective of Prostitutes, advocate full decriminalisation of sex work, as successfully carried out by New Zealand. As an MP, what would your views be on the role of legislation in sex work, and how do you think the problem of sex trafficking could be handled while protecting the rights of consenting sex workers to work in safety and with the protection other workers enjoy?
Finally, I would like to ask about general issues affecting the region of [constituency]. What global issues do you believe are most likely to affect this region and specifically [constituency] and how would you hope to influence these issues? The area is known for its technology industry, and as recent events have shown, energy, technology and the environment are key issues that must be addressed urgently. What are your views on how the needs of environment, energy and technology can be balanced and how the government should address them?