1.Tell us about yourself and why you’re standing
My name is Richard Hewison and whilst I am not a professional politician, I am someone who believes passionately in maximising personal freedom within a democratic society that respects minorities. Hence, I am very angry at how so many of our personal freedoms were taken away from us due to the Brexit process. I am standing in this election largely due to a number of local residents approaching the Rejoin EU Party, demanding the right to be able to express their discontent with Brexit directly in the ballot box rather than be forced to support any of the mealy-mouthed watered-down insincere platitudes being offered from the Labour and Lib Dems.
2.What qualities can you bring to the role of MP ?
The Rejoin EU Party can be more fairly regarded as a network of independents bound only by 2 factors:
- A desire to Rejoin the EU
- An opposition to all forms of bigotry & intolerance in our society
As such, I can bring a truly independent voice to parliament on behalf of the citizens of
Chester and if elected will speak out using parliamentary privilege to expose much of the
corruption at the heart of our political system – something it is not in the interests of any
of the main political parties to do
3. How would you assess the record of the current Government ?
The failure of the current government is more than just the problems of incompetent bumbling politicians (for that see Major govt 1990-97 as a benchmark!), it represents a fundamental failure of a weak constitution that’s always relied on “personal honour” to survive. We have a new class of politician that was brought in by Brexit that has no hesitation in using lies, bribes, corruption, cultures of physical & sexual abuse within party structures, and it has exposed a vulnerability at the heart of our society
By adding that to the removal of many of our international personal protections through Brexit (& the current talk of undermining the council of Europe) we are now seeing a drift towards authoritarian rule unprecedented in our time.
4. What would be your 3 main priorities for Chester ?
We must acknowledge that the short-term crisis we currently face is going to be the main job of the next MP elected for Chester : this winter is going to be one of the most terrifying in living memory for many people in the UK, and we need to support each other if we’re going to get through it. Hence my 3 big priorities will be:
- Protect people from loss of their homes whether through unaffordable rent rises or
mortgage payment rises
- Ensure ALL residents in Chester get access to adequate food, heat & energy supplies
during this crisis
- Use my voice in parliament to secure commitments from all political parties that we
NEVER allow the UK to be in this position again (obviously including repairing our key
food chains with the single market to reduce the current rampant 14% food inflation
The easiest way to do this would be to apply serious pressure on parliament to look again
on Brexit and get some genuine improvements to out Europe relations
5.What works well in Chester ?
During this campaign, I plan to listen to the views of voters (AND non-voting residents of Chester who also have a stake in our society) rather than impose my own views here. If elected MP, I would establish a monthly residents consultative forum to promote democratic debate over local issues to be prioritised & ensure that issues with a clear consensus are taken forward at either a City council, County Council or parliamentary level.
6.What doesn’t work well in Chester and how could you improve it?
See answer to q5
7.What steps should Chester take towards relieving the climate crisis ? How would you encourage green investment ?
Neither Chester in isolation nor the UK as a whole can successfully tackle climate change on its own. We need international co-operation & administration to achieve this. Even at an EU level only so much can be done. But we DO need the EU to step up its urgency in tackling global warming and we can only do that by getting our voice back at the top table. Quite frankly, the platitudes uttered at the COP27 recently are beyond pathetic, and illustrate the problems of trying to deal with global issues on a national level. We can, however, take some steps to make our local environment a better place and I will ensure any local actions of environmental hooliganism are highlighted, robustly tackled & ended (insofar as the powers of an MP allows) On funding, the local MP has very little power to direct funds towards green enterprises, but as genuine green initiatives espouse the values I hold, if elected I would use my position as MP to promote their successes & encourage community involvement. I would support a green agenda including grants to help insulate homes and to promote renewable energy generation such as solar within parliament if elected.
8.Do you support sending asylum seekers to Rwanda?
Let me be precise on what is happening here: the arrangements being made for asylum seekers in Rwanda as totally inhumane & unacceptable as they now fit the accepted international definition of a concentration camp. Our whole immigration system needs better management and a far more compassionate approach. Anyone who supports the United Kingdom setting up & running such brutal detention centres as we currently have, has themselves become the victim of gaslighting to such an extent, I don’t even know where to start the discussion! (To be clear – that’s a “no” from me!)
9.How has Brexit affected Chester and how could we maximise any current/future benefits?
There are no Brexit benefits. There is no Brexit dividend. The sunlit uplands turn out to be covered in sewage. Brexit CAN’T be made to work. Brexit has affected Chester in a similar way to the whole United Kingdom, making us all poorer, raising inflation, making tax rises necessary and concentrating power in the hands of a 3rd choice, unelected prime minister.
As well as severing the supply chains now responsible for making food unaffordable for so many struggling families, Brexit has ended our rights to re-locate, live & love wherever we choose in Europe. Brexit has destroyed the retirement dreams of hundreds of thousands of Brits and deprived our young people of the world-class learning opportunities they once had.
Perhaps even worse than that : the Brexit debate relied on lies, cheating and misinformation that led to an era of de-prioritising the views of experts in their fields in favour of listening to the bloke down the pub – this inevitably has led to the loss of far
more lives than were necessary during the first wave COVID crisis, due to us electing an idiot as the leader of our society.
10.What are your aspirations for the next phase of the Northgate development?
The Northgate development has had the great misfortune of coming on line at one of the worst times in our economic history. I think the priority of the new MP must be in using their negotiating skills to protect the early adapter businesses & community
organisations that are part of the first phase & making sure as many as possible survive the next 2 years.
11.How can we better maintain and support the city walls, in particular the collapse of 2020
which remains unrepaired?
Sadly, one of the symptoms of economic catastrophe is the de-prioritisation of human cultural heritage projects and few arguments will realistically win extra funds to be allocated to these issues either by central government or city/county councils.
Hence, the role of the local MP can only really be to lend their moral support and encouragement to local volunteers and campaigners who are prepared to give their time to protecting these assets & use their influence to publicise activities. This would be my pledge to do as much as possible towards if elected as MP. Of course if we were still in the EU, I would be able to advocate for a heritage grant, as used to be available. Being part of the EU can enhance our rich heritage
12.Dee House remains in a state of disrepair, how could we speed up progress on this
See answer to Q11
13.Would you support the Ginger E scooter trial being made permanent?
I have great concerns about the safety issues associated for both pedestrians and scooter users. I would hence want to do a dispassionate review of the evidence emerging from the trial, and this would be one the sort of issues I’d envisage featuring in the forum outlined in Q6. We already have good examples of best practise from across Europe we can also draw on
14. Our former MP said he would fight the closure of the Countess with every drop of
blood in his body – do you enjoy the same level of conviction?
Well, I’m not an expert on these matters, but I think if you give away every drop of your blood you’re not really in much of a position to do anything. However, it is my deeply held conviction that the provision of a reliable health service is THE most fundamental obligation of government to society. Without being able to know ourselves, our friends, our families & our loved ones have a basic health safety net to rely on, what’s the point of government? So yes, I would be a firm advocate of our excellent local hospital & make sure both the voices of senior leaders at the Countess AND the nurses, doctors &
support staff that keep us safe are heard in parliament. Obviously one of the greatest pressures on the health service since Brexit is being able to retain the excellent staff, many of whom are EU citizens. We need to make them feel welcome in the community they live and work in. I think if Chester elected a “Rejoin EU Party” MP, the signal this would send to talented international healthcare professionals EU wide is that Chester is the place to be!
15.What are your views on the future use of Chester castle ?
Please see answer to Q11
16,How would you tackle the further regeneration of the rows?
Please see answer to Q11
17. What support could you offer to Chester FC?
Again, one of the issues that we will face over the next 2 years of economic crises will be severe pressure on all our leisure activities and issues. I have to be honest here : other than moral support in this area to all parts of the leisure sector during these difficult times, there is little else I think the local MP can effectively do.
My priorities would be as outlined in Q4.
18. What is your definition of a woman?
Every individual has the right to define their gender as they see fit. Choice is a fundamental personal freedom. So to me a woman is any individual that tells me she is a woman.
19. What are your views on a form of proportional representation for Parliament and
House of Lords reform?
The question pre-supposes I think the current parliamentary democracy is a good way to run our society – I don’t.
Whilst I’m not here to talk about the complexity of constitutional reform, we have to recognise the current system brought us this crisis we are currently in. Would I support PR as a sticking plaster to help our broken constitution stumble
on a little while longer? Yes I would. Only 21% of people living in the UK in 2019 voted for this government, and just
43% of those who actually voted, yet they have 100% power. This is clearly morally wrong in a claimed democratic system (at least by any objective analysis). But given the current chaos we see in government, I want to see a much wider debate on the form of government we have (…if anyone’s interested in my SPECIFIC solutions & reasons for them, please stop me in the street – I promise I can bore you for hours on the topic!)
20.What are your views on the cost of parking in the city particularly the new Market Car Park ?
Brexit has hit our high streets hard. COVID has only made the situation worse. We need to find ways of supporting local business most efficiently whilst recognising the impact on climate change. As a global society we do need to become less reliant on pollutant emitting vehicles if we are ever to seriously tackle the issues, and although (as I said in an earlier answer) Chester cannot tackle global climate change in isolation, it can be part of the solution rather than the problem.
As such, I am not opposed to car parking charges IF an adequately funded public transport alternative is available, otherwise this just represents a tax on working. However, I am in general against parking charges for access to medical facilities &
other essential activities.
21. How would you improve transport links to the city? Manchester/London/Flintshire
etc. Also rural transport links
I do agree with those arguing for a direct train connection to other major cities in the UK rather than having to, for example, change at Crewe which of course adds huge delays into the system. I don’t believe it can be beyond the wit of the system to put the extra few metres of rail required in place and am happy to support such initiatives.
22.What are your views on an English assembly/ Parliament ?
See answer to Q19
23.What are your hopes for the local housing market ?
The biggest short term priority here is to protect people from losing their homes in the current crisis. Our next MP must be able to lead on the issue of ensuring individuals get help & support in negotiating breathing space with landlords and mortgage lenders
On a parliamentary level, I will fully support the moves to ban no-fault evictions Also, a return to economic literacy by rejoining the EU will help stabilise the UK’s economic position, hence improving the UK’s credit rating, hence lowering government borrowing costs, hence lowering mortgage costs, hence lowering rents (as long a government as a whole uses its role to ensure the last 2 links in the chain are carried out)
24.How would you tackle the increasing number of street drug/drink users?
You cannot tackle any form of anti-social behaviour without tackling the root cause. Typically the root cause will be alienation from society & a perception for an individual of there being no real future for them. As such, the key to solving such issues is to make sure equality of opportunity is promoted & communicated clearly to all in our community. Rejoining the EU offers a far wider collection of personal opportunities to live, love, study, work and play within the context of a different culture
For clarity, my perspective as a believer in maximising personal freedoms is that it is not government’s role to tell us how to live our lives, just to make sure we have access to the education that informs us of the risks of the choices we might make.
25.The Chester constituency has a collection of varied wards, some affluent, some not, how would you bring economic equality to the city so all residents are involved in opportunities and investment?
Wealth inequality is now becoming one of the biggest and most pressing issues of our age, and whilst I am generally more focused on equality of opportunity as a long term social norm, the current situation has left the UK too unequal and must be addressed.
These are the simple statistics : the UK national debt is now £2.6 TRILLION! Our total annual income (pre-pandemic in 2019) was £2.19 trillion. A traditional benchmark economists have used for economic viability of an “emerging economy” is that national debt should be no more than 70% of annual income – we’re now approaching 120%! What’s worse, we have a current budget deficit of £40bn-ish per annum making the debt larger each year not smaller. At the same time (by a remarkable co-incidence!), the accumulated wealth in the top 1% of our society is roughly…£2.6tn! (in fact a little bit more). So…at the moment 99% of society is paying taxes to the government that can then pay interest to the 1% who hold government debt, whilst teetering our economy on the verge of collapse. There is only one obvious solution – we need a wealth tax aimed at the VERY
richest in our society. …of course just rejoining the EU would give our economy such an instant boost meaning less of this might be necessary!