The Express asked each candidate running to be Wealden’s MP why people should vote for them in the General Election on December 12.
Below are statements from each candidate. The nomination period closed at 4pm on Thursday, November 14. The deadline to register to vote in the General Election was Tuesday, November 26.
Angie Smith, Labour
Wealden has been my home along with my husband, two children and various dogs for the past 14 years. During that time I have built a career in the domestic violence sector and now work full-time in London for a national domestic violence charity, commuting every day from Uckfield.
My work in the domestic violence sector has enabled me to see first-hand how austerity policies impact on real people’s lives: women who are destitute after leaving abusers, because of barriers to claiming benefits; people with disabilities excluded from benefits because of unfair fit-for-work assessments, or people who cannot access emergency housing because there is not enough temporary accommodation to meet the increasing need.
Austerity is now beginning to bite across Wealden. We have seen huge cuts in social care provision, including the dismantling of early help, meals on wheels, respite for families with caring responsibilities, to name just some of the losses. Universal Credit is now live across the area – directly impacting on rising foodbank use. Our housing situation is dire, with a lack of decent, affordable provision across the area. I have become involved in politics to do what I can to resolve these issues. I am now an Uckfield Town Councillor, I have been a shop steward and am an active anti-austerity and pro-NHS campaigner, but with a national platform I could do so much more for the people of Wealden. It is for that reason that I am standing as Labour Candidate in this General Election.
Nus Ghani, Conservatives
I am standing on a positive ticket to deliver Brexit and manage a strong economy with low taxes, which invests in our NHS and front line public services.
My priorities for Wealden are the same as yours, making life in Britain better for everyone.
1 – Giving young people the best start – I have campaigned for fairer funding for rural schools and we now have more funding for every pupil in every school. The experience I have gained from hosting local jobs fairs and leading the national Year of Engineering programme, has led me to conclude that we need to do more on apprenticeships.
2 – Attracting more firms to Wealden - We have record levels of full time employment and more families have job security, but we can still do more to enable people to earn a living in Wealden. Working with local businesses and setting up farming forums I know our rural infrastructure (road, rail, broadband and mobile phone coverage) needs to improve.
3 – Protecting the environment – Under the Conservatives the UK has become one of the first major economies to legislate to go Net Zero by 2050. The prevalence of single-use plastic bags has plummeted and our 25 year plan will protect our environment by tackling emissions to fly-tipping.
4 – Crime and Justice – Keeping our streets safe with extra police is welcome, but online crime and child exploitation is an issue. I have campaigned with local police and in Parliament for victim support, longer sentences for perpetrators targeting vulnerable people and an end to early release.
Chris Bowers, Liberal Democrats
I view the Wealden election as a straight Remain-Leave battle between Lib Dems and Conservatives.
I have every respect for the Labour and Green candidates (having coedited a book with Caroline Lucas and Labour’s Lisa Nandy), but if we fight each other, it will be a battle for second place, whereas if one of us can be a magnet for the Remain/climate vote, we can win – although the Conservatives have a sizeable majority, the latest polling has Remain fractionally ahead of Leave in Wealden.
A writer and broadcaster by profession, I’m known to tennis fans as a commentator and biographer of the Wimbledon champions Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.
I also commentated on national television on Wimbledon’s first-ever 12-12 final set tiebreak this year.
I have a strong environmental background, especially in transport, and was invited to head up the transport section of the Lib Dems’ new climate change policy.
I’m really proud of what we achieved, and voters motivated by climate change don’t have to vote Lib Dem tactically – we have the most coherent and ambitious strategy, including an initial programme of immediate substantial emissions cuts.
I’m a staunch pro-European. The EU isn’t perfect, but we’re much better in than out, and as the son of a refugee from Nazi Germany, my commitment to cross-border cooperation is in my bones.
I’ve lived between Uckfield and Lewes for over 20 years, and have an 18-year-old daughter who was born in Crowborough, learned to swim in Hailsham and did gymnastics in Uckfield.
My interests are theatre, playing the violin, and walking the dog.
Georgia Taylor, Green
“Greens have been driving practical local action to protect our environment. In Wealden our District Councillors instigated the declaration of a climate emergency - now we’re working to make sure our council takes action. Voting Green in Wealden sends a strong message to parliament that we want national action now.
“I have worked all over the world on UK Aid programmes that save women’s lives, address trauma from conflict, and build sustainable communities. Because I have worked in and for government I know how parliament works and can make change happen.”
Georgia says her priorities in Wealden are: local and national action to protect our environment and act on the climate crisis; affordable public transport that makes it easier and safer for us to travel wherever we want and need to; funding and improving services for vulnerable children, adults and older people; sustainable, community-owned housing built for the future to meet the needs of people in Wealden; a basic income for all people in Wealden, reducing vulnerability at a time when food bank use is at an all-time high; I have a special interest in young people’s health and wellbeing and will push for proper investment in specialist support, youth activities and activism, preventing drug and alcohol misuse, and protecting young people from abuse; remaining in the EU
“We have a better chance of tackling the climate and ecological emergency by staying in the EU. The EU also supports peace and vital human and employment rights for all of us.”