Charlotte Vere campaigning in September with environmentalist, and controversial ‘non-dom’, Zac Goldsmith. (Photo Charlotte Vere)

Charlotte Vere campaigning in September with environmentalist, and controversial ‘non-dom’, Zac Goldsmith. (Photo Charlotte Vere)

Let me begin by saying how the recent MP expenses scandal shocked and outraged us all – and rightly so. However, this does not justify judging Charlotte Vere, Conservative candidate for Brighton Pavilion, for the crimes of others. It certainly does not justify abandoning all sensible views and giving support to extremist fringe groups.

I have met Charlotte a few times now, and she is that rare thing in politics – someone who is not only witty, charming and compassionate, but also a real person. What I mean is that, unlike many politicians, she has extensive experience in the private, public and voluntary sectors. She does not live in an ivory tower, she lives in the real world, and can draw on this experience to bring about real, tangible change.

For example, she was CEO of an online mental health group called Big White Wall – Brighton has a serious homelessness problem, and this problem is inextricably linked to mental health. She is desperate to use her expertise to start reversing the damage that 13 years of Labour mismanagement has caused.

This is in stark contrast to Caroline Lucas, whose CV would read something like “protesting, milking MEP expenses, more protesting”. The Greens put on this eco-warrior image in the hope that no-one will see just how weak their policies are. Caroline Lucas is heavily relying on the student vote – but if elected, taxes in Brighton would rise substantially in order to pay for her pie-in-the-sky promises. Because students do not pay council tax, and get a lot of income from student loans, we would be unaffected; it is the hardworking people of Brighton, and the businesses trying to recover from the recession, that would carry the burden. If that’s her idea of “fairness”, she can keep it.

The Conservatives have a lot to offer students: we have pledged to make sure students get their loans on time, 10,000 extra university places in 2010, a bonus for students who repay their student loans early, and to streamline the path into a career by offering 1, 200 skills scholarships a year to apprentices. Furthermore, we will give scholarships to the children of all soldiers killed on active duty, and create a website to aid students choose the degree course that is most likely to lead to graduate-level employment in the future.

More seriously, students in the UK are repeatedly at risk of crime – 1 in 3 of us become victims at some point during our studies. The Conservatives are committed to make the law work again by protecting the victim instead of the criminal, by scrapping unnecessary paperwork and by letting more police get back onto the streets to do their jobs. We have also pledged to fight sexual crime, by setting up 15 new rape crisis centres around the country, and funding those that already exist.

The Conservatives have placed the environment at the front line of their policies from day one. Strangely enough, we rather enjoy conserving things. We have a clear plan to move Britain towards a low carbon economy by giving every household the right to £6,500 worth of insulation, introducing ‘smart grid’ and ‘smart meter’ technology, as well as carbon capture-and-storage, expanding off-shore, biogas and marine power, placing more restrictions on nuclear and coal power, encouraging electric or hybrid cars and also high-speed rail.

We are the only party to take energy security seriously – it is totally irresponsible for us to continue drawing most of our energy from unstable, high-risk regions of the world – not to mention Russia. I myself was in Prague this time last year when Russia cut off the gas to most of Eastern Europe – it was a terrifying feeling. Bringing our dependency on imported fossil fuels to a minimum is not just an issue of climate change, but of national security also.

The University of Sussex is unique, as we are the only university in England to be situated within a recognised Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Charlotte Vere shares our determination to keep it that way, and will utilise these Conservative policies to make sure we leave the Sussex Downs in a condition fit for future generations to enjoy. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, she is absolutely against fox-hunting.

On Wednesday 27th Charlotte was kind enough to come into Sussex to have a Q and A session with any students that had a bee in their bonnet. The questions were mostly out of curiosity, but a few were clearly critical. She answered them all gracefully, often agreeing with the views of the students. On the few questions she could not answer adequately, she had the honesty to admit it and promised to write back to the questioner. Her replies on business, finance and mental health were particularly strong. I was pleased to hear that she disagreed with the selling of Preston Circus fire station and that this years Gay Pride parade has had their money-worries solved by the Conservative-majority council.

At the end of the day, we must all vote for who we think is the best for the job. All I am asking is for the student body not to let the current atmosphere of political pessimism obscure their judgement. The Green Party’s argument of “moderate politics has failed”, is exactly what the BNP are saying. We should solve old problems, not vote in new ones. We all know what it is we must do – examine the parties, the candidates and their policies and come to an informed decision. So please, go on Charlotte’s website and see what she has to offer.

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17 Comments

  • Just a few points:

    – ‘real, tangible change’ – er no, she’s a Tory. CONSERVATIVE. Stop trying to mask the Tory party in a veil of Obama-ness.

    – ‘Lucas is heavily relying on the student vote – but if elected, taxes in Brighton would rise substantially in order to pay for her pie-in-the-sky promises.’ No, Caroline Lucas, if elected as an MP, does not have the ability to change local taxation – that is FOR THE COUNCIL TO DECIDE, ok?

    – ‘we have pledged to make sure students get their loans on time,’ – wow, what an INCREDIBLE policy.

    – ‘ a bonus for students who repay their student loans early’ – GREAAAAT, let’s make RICH PAY LESS FOR UNIVERSITY, after all they are the ones who can afford it most – such a obnoxiously Tory policy it is embarrassing

    – ‘create a website to aid students choose the degree course that is most likely to lead to graduate-level employment in the future’ – create a website?! God, that’s brilliant. I mean careers advisers, a proper service actually, what’s the point of that? Or is a website the only thing you can offer?

    – ‘We have also pledged to fight sexual crime, by setting up 15 new rape crisis centres around the country,’ – this is strange, Boris Johnson’s spent his first term as London mayor CLOSING DOWN RAPE CRISIS CENTRES…

    – ‘to have a Q and A session with any students that had a bee in their bonnet. ‘ – most patronising comment ever. Dumb down politics, why don’t you.

    – ‘At the end of the day, we must all vote for who we think is the best for the job.’ and the TORIES ARE BEST AT HELPING THE RICH AND SCREWING OVER THE POOR

    – ‘introducing ‘smart grid’ and ‘smart meter’ technology,’ – much as I don’t want to give them credit, the Labour government announced these things AGES AGO

    – ‘The Conservatives have placed the environment at the front line of their policies from day one’ – oh, is that why the Tory councils REJECT MORE WIND-FARM APPLICATIONS THAN ANY OTHER COUNCILS?

    – ‘this years Gay Pride parade has had their money-worries solved by the Conservative-majority council.’ – great, subsiding disastrous businesses with tax payers’ money. Is this a ploy to make us think the Tories are gay-friendly? Don’t worry we haven’t forgotten Section 28 you brought in, Tories (inc Cameron) voting against giving gay couples equal rights to adoption and IVF, etc etc.

    ‘come to an informed decision’ – This is very sensible advice, thanks.

  • Hi economicturtle:

    1 – there is more to Conservativism than keeping everything the same. If that wasn’t the case, we wouldn’t bother with policies at all.

    2 – You are correct on that point, I made a mistake. It would have been more accurate for me to say that Lucas cannot support local business, because she knows nothing about it, because she has never had a real job. Or that she cannot represent our constituency if she is voted in by students who are only here for half the year. Or that if she ever became Prime Minister (God forbid) there would be the damage I mentioned, except on a far vaster scale.

    3 – presumably you think students waiting for weeks on end is an acceptable status quo

    4 – It makes sense to reward people who take the initiative in paying back their student loan

    5 – the website is just one of many policies

    6 – Johnson did increase funding compared to Ken Livingstone, just not as much as he originally promised. This is because the financial situation was probably rather better when he wrote the manifesto than after he was elected.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/oct/21/boris-johnson-rape-crisis-centres

    “Cleverly, who also chairs the London assembly health and public services committee, criticised opposition colleagues who he claimed had failed to air their concerns when his panel had scrutinised the mayor’s draft domestic violence strategy over the summer. “None of them turned up, which is why it’s so cynical.”

    7 – How dare I not take university-level politics too seriously!

    8 – Yes, that’s right, I wake up every morning thinking of new ways to screw over the majority of our population, oh shit, you got me

    9 – Could you reference that? Besides, these are just 2 examples of many, many, many environment policies

    10 – Firstly, IMHO, wind farms are expensive and ineffective. Secondly, many rural areas have a conservative majority, and the constituents simply don’t want wind farms in their area. It’s easy for city-folk to vote for them, they’re not the ones who would have to deal with them everyday

    11 – The gay pride parade brings a lot of business and tourism to the area and so is a good investment. The Tory group at my (our?) university has 2 gay members on our 7 member committee, so perhaps you can talk to them about it. I have taken personal interest in this issue, because I would never vote for a party I considered to be homophobic. Section 28 was wrong, but it’s in the past, just like Enoch Powell and the Monday Club. David Cameron has openly apologised for it. Gay people are normal people and so will not just vote on “gay issues”. There is no “gay vote”. They need jobs, education, transport, healthcare like the rest of us and so will vote Tory if they share my belief that the Tories are the best party to look after those things. I have brought this up with Charlotte Vere, and she agreed with me.

    Check out this article:
    http://conservativehome.blogs.com/platform/2010/01/david-bridle-gay-and-lesbian-supporters-of-the-tory-party-feel-they-can-once-again-follow-their-poli.html

    12 – A lot of students at my (our?) university are very “politically biased” to put it politely, and do need some nudging to come to an informed desicion.

  • Hi William

    Thank you for responding to my points. Just a few things that have tickled me.

    – I COMPLETELY agree with you about Caroline Lucas, she has never had a real job and I really find her difficult to stomach. She is a relentless PR machine. BUT, and despite this, I really do not think she will become our PM…

    – Regarding your comment about how Lucas cannot represent our constituency if she is voted in by students who are only here for half the year. It’s an interesting point, but surely this is one that is valid for ALL candidates, Green, Labour, Tory etc etc? I don’t agree with you on this, I think everyone has a right to representation, whether that is in their university or home town. What’s next? Half-votes for students? If you’re being consistent, second-home owners should have their suffrage restricted too. Should we get back to the days when wealthy individuals had several votes? One-person-one-vote is one of the most sensible things in our very mixed-up, in need of reform electoral system.

    – I don’t think that having the wealth and means – inheritance, rich parents – to pay back your student loan ahead of some clever sod who doesn’t have these privileges is really something that should be ‘reward[ed]’, as you put it. It’s not ‘tak[ing] the initiative either’.

    – ‘Yes, that’s right, I wake up every morning thinking of new ways to screw over the majority of our population, oh shit, you got me’ Thanks, I’ve never heard a Tory speak so earnestly. And trust me, I’ve spoken to members from all the major parties, one of the downsides of my previous job. Sure, Labour-ites are policy-mad technocrats, Libdems are policy-less and devilishly malevolent campaigners, but an EARNEST TORY? Whatever next.

    – Yes, these are two examples of many other Tory environmental policies. Fine. Except you mentioned THESE TWO EXAMPLES in your article, and THESE TWO EXAMPLES happen to be policies that Labour – the Government – has already said they will put in place.

    Here are the references you asked for, is the BBC an ok source for you? I have others, if you wish.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/8389880.stm

    The article says that ‘Plans have also been announced for a smart grid to manage the flows of electricity and to increase the use of renewable energy’ AND ‘Plans for smart meters for millions of homes have been unveiled with trials suggesting the £8bn scheme may help people save £28 a year.’

    – Re windfarms, ‘they’re not the ones who have to deal with them everyday’. So, a few wind turbines, mm difficult to deal with. I agree with you that wind turbines are inefficient, I’m much more in favour of nuclear power, HOWEVER I believe that we need a mix of energy sources, which includes windfarms. I find your comment very helpful in proving that Tory NIMBYism still exists, and is acknowledged by Tories.

    – Actually, I take your point about Section 28 being in the past, even though Cameron did vote AGAINST its being repealed in the last decade. As in, not the 1980s, not the 1990s, but post-2000. However, more of an issue for me regarding my interest in the Tory party is the consistent voting AGAINST LGBT equality on various issues. For example, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act, which gives more rights to same-sex couples who would like a child. I distinctly remember certain VERY HIGH PROFILE TORIES voting against this saying that it would ruin the family (the mythical heteronormative husband-wife family with 2.1 children). Denying same-sex couples the same rights IS homophobic.

    – I totally disagree that it’s a good investment. It’s a failing business with a terrible business model – have you seen how much they’re losing every year? Thought propping up loss-making businesses for no apparent reason was what Labour did…

    – I find your comment that ‘a lot’ of our peers at Sussex are ‘politically biased’ and need a ‘nudge’ to be ill-informed and reactionary. To be honest, I’d rather we had the SWP-rent-a-mob and the insane Green lot than legions of the apathetic at Sussex… If anything, THEY, the apathetic, are the ones who need a ‘nudge’. This is something we should all be working on, raising awareness of the political system and how it operates, encouraging participation and so on.

    PS William, your point no. 7 – I didn’t realise Charlotte Vere was in ‘university-level politics’. I really thought she was standing for Brighton Pavilion, you know, to be a MP for the British Parliament? WEIRD – I never saw her manifesto on the USSU site for sabbs elections…

  • Hi economicturtle

    Sorry for the slow reply.

    You have criticised the Tories, Lib Dems, Labour, SWP and the Greens. What actually are your views?
    “And trust me, I’ve spoken to members from all the major parties, one of the downsides of my previous job” – what was that? Out of curiosity.

    – I am glad we agree about Lucas. She is not likely to be PM anytime soon, but if the greens win this constituency, it will just encourage them more.

    – I overexaggerated about the voting. Students make up a vital part of Brighton’s trade, culture and population, and deserve to be represented. It just makes me angry that students can register to vote twice when, I assume, homeless people cannot register once.

    – I don’t think there are many people whose parents will pay outright for their fees. The policy is aimed at sending the message that graduates should use their degree to get a good job, start earning their own money, and pay back their loan sooner rather than later. This policy does not punish those who can’t, but does reward those who can. I think it’s a good policy.

    – The BBC article is dated 2/1/09
    I got my information from the Conservative party website:
    http://www.conservatives.com/Policy/Security_Agenda.aspx
    If you look at the downloadable document listed to the right on the top, you will see on the second page the date says 6/1/07
    This is another example of Labour stealing policies from the Conservatives, and another example of why I’m definitely voting Conservative.

    – I don’t think it is common to find “a few windfarms”, I think they usually have to be in very large numbers to have any affect at all. I am from a rural constituency (Suffolk coastal) and I think it is very hard for rural voters to get their voices heard, especially when snobbish left-leaning suburban/urban voters stereotype them as bigoted, ignorant, uneducated and even racist. If wind-farms were actually an effective energy source maybe there wouldn’t be so much NIMBYism. We have the Sizewell nuclear power plant, which no-one minds having in their back yard, because it is effective and doesn’t waste 20 fields that could be used for pasture or crops.

    – I am aware of Cameron’s voting record. It does make me uncomofortable, but he has apologised for S28 and we are now trying harder to reach out to gay groups. Correct me if I’m wrong, wasn’t that under William Hague? Hague was very firmly right-wing and raised eyebrows even from his own party. If the vote against repeal was a 2 or 3 line whip, Cameron may have felt he had little choice. He had only just become a new MP and wouldn’t have had the confidence to rebel against the party line. It depends which attempt at repeal you are talking about though. Cameron’s voting certainly wasn’t right, but we need to understand what kind of situation he was in at the time.
    Cameron stood for the leadership of the party on the platform of liberalisation, modernisation and change. To everyone’s surprise, the party voted for him instead of the traditionalist David Davis. I take this as proof that both the party and Cameron have moved beyond that part of our history.

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article3606523.ece
    “What effect will the free votes have?

    All three clauses are still expected to pass. While about 50 Labour MPs may vote against, about 40 Conservatives and 50 Lib Dems are likely to back them. The majority could top 100.”

    I don’t know much about this issue but I think this is more about the Catholic/religious conservative element of the party. I do not support them, and Charlotte Vere is not one of them. Con. MPs elected by a very religious constituency have to represent the views of their electorate and their church. It seems to me that quite a few Cons supported the bill, and quite a few Labour MPs were against it. This is more about religion and morality than normal party politics.

    – “have you seen how much they’re losing every year? ”
    No, could you reference that?
    If the mostly-Tory council vote against it, they’re homophobic. If they vote for it, it’s financially irresponsible. It’s a lose-lose situation. I think they realised that not helping the Brighton gay-pride would have repercussions throughout the whole country and damage our chance to get back into Downing Street.

    – I agree with you that the fanatics are still better than the apathetic. I was thinking more of the Tory party’s general failure overall to reach out to young people, the persistent “nasty party” stereotype, and how difficult it is to get people just to give us a chance, especially in such a liberal-left university. If people disagree with us then fine, but they could at least have a quick glance at our website before writing us off forever.

    – Point taken. I was just trying to make a serious article a bit more light-hearted.

  • Hi Tibby,

    I am a member of the LGBT group, and we recently watched this documentary together for LGBT month:
    http://www.channel4.com/programmes/batty-man/4od
    I think it shows that rappers are contributing to homophobia, although obviously only within the working-class black community.

    His comment that
    “The most important instrument of the state is to allow head teachers to keep order in their schools. To search for things, without having to have evidence that there’s weapons involved. To set proper punishments in schools, to exclude pupils who are bullies, or take part in bullying, without being overruled by an appeals panel”
    Sounds sensible to me. Let teachers do their job, don’t drown them in red tape. They know how to do their jobs better than Gordon Brown does.

  • You said: ‘I think it shows that rappers are contributing to homophobia, although obviously only within the working-class black community.’

    Oh course that is cos only WORKING-CLASS BLACK people listen to rap, right?

    Own-goal.

  • Firstly a big thank you to Will for writing such an excellent piece on why we need a Conservative MP in Brighton Pavilion and what we hope to achieve. There are a couple of areas which I would like to expand upon.

    As a potential representative in national government for Brighton Pavilion, I am very clear about my role. It is to take up and act upon the concerns of our community. I am therefore involved in our train services, our health services, our voluntary sector and our business community.

    Will writes that I am against the sale of Preston Park fire station – this is not entirely correct. The truth is, I have no view on it. No one in our community has ever complained to me about moving the Preston Park fire station. If Nancy Platts, the Labour candidate, wants to make it the centre piece of her campaign, she is welcome to – I believe that Brighton has far bigger issues for our potential representative to involve themselves in and I don’t want to play politics with a fire station. I trust those with far more experience than I to decide the best place for fire station and don’t feel any pressure from the community to wade into this particular arena.

    However, I would also like to take the opportunity to expand on Will’s excellent summary of what a Conservative government will do for students. One of the most important things we will do for students is to get the economy moving again. Students need and want jobs when they graduate. Careers that are worthwhile and fulfilling in the public, private and third sectors – not pointless jobs that are created out of fresh air using buckets of taxpayers’ money (of which there is in any event none left). With the economy in the state it is in and the public finances shot to pieces, we have our work cut out – but I firmly believe that a Conservative government can create an environment for job creation and my experience has shown me that if people can afford to employ people, they will.

    For example, we will encourage people to set up businesses at home, which is where most businesses start. A Conservative government will remove the restriction in council tenancy agreements which currently prevents tenants from starting a business at home. This is a good example of fresh thinking – making things better without just throwing money at the problem.

    And finally, to Economic Turtle, your comments are genuinely funny. I haven’t been in politics for that long and I find your adherence to age-old, incorrect stereotypes about Conservatives amusing. Take off your blinkers, put tribal loyalties to one side and see where this country is; then make an informed decision about what will be best for the whole community – rich and poor, young and old, gay and straight …..

  • Hi Tibby,

    I am not an expert on rap music, but I get the impression this area of music is made mostly by Jamaicans or British-Jamaicans, for Jamaicans and British-Jamaicans

    I assume you took the time to actually watch the documentary I sent you – how many white faces do you see?

    As Cameron said, the best step towards tackling homophobia in young people overall is to give more control to headteachers and staff

    Please stop wasting my time with non-points

  • Tibby –

    I am getting tired of you saying things that make no sense, and I deeply resent that accusation.
    It is not racist to say that Jamaican music is more popular with Jamaican people, or people of Jamaican descent. I am not saying white people will not be influenced by this kind of music if they listen to it, but I don’t think many white people do listen to it.

    Getting back to the original point:
    David Cameron was correct to say we should have stricter controls on the type of music allowed in our country, but this issue only affects a small part of the population. Giving more control to teachers is the most important thing.

  • William.

    Regarding your points about how black music is supposedly FOR black people etc etc, you are entirely wrong.

    Please stop wasting my time with non-posts.

  • It is not racist to say that Jamaicans (or Brits descended from) are more likely to listen to Jamaican music, and I deeply resent the accusation
    If young white people did listen to this music, then I’m sure it would have a negative affect on them too – but I don’t think many white people do listen to this music

  • Tibby

    How is it that William has expressed anything conceivable as racist? He directed your attention to a video that expands on the association between certain aspects of Jamaican rap-music and the incitement of homophobia. Let us remember, homosexual acts or, in Jamaican law, the “abominable crime of buggery”, is met with liability to imprisonment and hard labour not exceeding ten years. A July 08 poll carried out in Jamaica that read: “Whether or not you agree with their “lifestyle,” do you think homosexuals are entitled to the same basic rights and privileges as other people in Jamaica?” Of the respondents, only 26% said “yes,” with 70% saying “no” and 4% undecided.

    The litmus test of the Tory Party is not their ability to tackle homophobic bullying in this country; indeed, the priority of any Party ought to be the economy. As Charlotte has already said, we need to take off our blinkers and take a seriously look at what the Tory Party has to offer in face of the serious economic situation we’re faced with.

  • A: Yes yes we ALL know that many Jamaicans have a far less liberal approach to homosexuality than we would like, and I think there is a strong case for positiive education campaigns, public information etc on the issue. But you’ve missed the point:

    MY ISSUE IS THAT PROTHERO THINKS BLACK PEOPLE LISTEN TO BLACK MUSIC AS IF THIS IS A FACT.

    I suppose, as a white man, I should only read texts by white men.

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