Name: Dee Searle
Party: Green Party
Area Standing (Constituency): Tottenham
Signed The Positive Youth News Haringey Pledge: Yes
Responded To Online Hustings: Yes – Response Below
Politicians always attack our youth centres when making cuts, what would you do to protect them?
It’s short-sighted and irresponsible to attack youth centres. Young people are major players in society. I would make sure that the achievements of Tottenham’s youth centres are properly publicised and recognised, so that it becomes political suicide to attack them. I worked with young people to create effective youth networks at Amnesty International, Unicef and Channel 4 Television. As Tottenham’s MP, I would consult with young people regularly and create formal youth feedback channels in my constituency office to ensure we have strong youth input to major issues in Tottenham and at Westminster.
Do you think the Duggan case has made it hard for the community to trust the police?
I can understand why that may be the case. Trust takes a long time to build and can easily be dashed. We all want to live safely in our communities and it’s in the interests of the police to work in collaboration with local people. In fact, the Police Service’s Statement of Mission and Values says so. I would use my experience of human rights-based policing at Amnesty International and my position as MP for Tottenham to work with the police and local representatives (including young people) to develop a people-based approach to policing that addresses the particular needs of our diverse community and can be a model for use elsewhere.
Young people are the lowest voters, what can you do to increase voting participation?
I don’t blame young people for not voting. Our first-past-the-post electoral system is archaic and undemocratic because it means elections are largely a two-horse race between Labour and the Conservatives, with policies that are not wildly different. In my experience, young people care about big issues, such as the impact of climate change, growing inequality and conflict overseas, as well as more immediately relevant needs such as jobs, housing and access to education. We need to reclaim a sense of political vision, so we can tell what political parties really stand for, and bring in proportional representation (like most of Europe) so that we can vote for what we believe in and be sure our vote will count.
Do you support votes at 16?
Yes, absolutely. It’s contradictory to want young people to be engaged in politics and then prevent them from voting until they are 18 or older (depending on when the next election falls). We should ensure there is space in the school timetable for politics and civics classes and to continue them through further education and apprenticeships, so that young people have a chance to debate current affairs with each other and politicians. Speaking personally, I would relish the opportunity to discuss local, national and international issues with young people. I would learn a lot!
Do you think it is fair that there is a different minimum wage if you are under 18?
No, I don’t. People should be paid an equal wage for equal work, regardless of their age, gender, sexuality, disability or other status. However, it’s important that young people have access to further education and good apprenticeships, so the Green Party would reintroduce the Education Maintenance Allowance, to enable more young people to study longer, and reinstate the Government’s responsibility to provide quality apprenticeships for all young people aged 16-19 who want one, so young people have a genuine choice about when and how they start their first job.
The affordable housing being built in Haringey is not affordable, why is this allowed?
Because the current Tory/LibDem Government and Labour before it, and Haringey Council, have neglected their responsibility to ensure decent housing for all and have put a misplaced faith in the free market, where developers are more interested in making a profit than providing affordable homes. There has been too little investment in council and social housing for decades and the private rented sector has been allowed to charge extortionate rents. The Green Party is committed to build 500,000 homes for social rent by 2020, concentrated in areas of highest need, focusing on small-scale developments using local contractors and labour. We would also regulate the private sector to provide secure tenancies and cap rent increases to no more than the rate of inflation.
Why have you chosen to stand?
The major problems facing us (such as the growing impact of climate change and degradation of our environment, which are displacing communities across the world and leading to conflict and mass migration) are largely being ignored by the grey accountant parties, which spend their time trading insults and haggling about relatively small pots of money. The world has only two types of resources – human and natural – which are interdependent. Only the Green Party has fully costed and affordable policies that will protect and nurture both equally. I hope my broad experience (at grassroots as well as senior level, in the media, charities and education in Britain and overseas) will enable me to tackle some of these major problems as well as to speak up for the people of Tottenham and ensure their many achievements are fully recognised.
When are we going to see real jobs not just supermarkets or sales?
Important question! The big political parties are obsessed with the numbers game when it comes to tackling unemployment, which has resulted in low-wage, insecure jobs in the private sector. The Green Party values the public sector and the vital services it provides. We would challenge austerity and create over 1 million decent jobs with real prospects in the NHS, social services, education, public transport, local renewable energy and housing. We would introduce a living wage of £10 an hour by 2020 and ban zero-hour contracts and exploitative unpaid internships. This investment would be repaid many times over as people are able to move off the breadline, pay taxes and spend their earnings.
Do you support the knocking down of Broadwater Farm estate?
Broadwater Farm has become run-down in some respects and residents have said substantial improvements are needed. However, the estate has a strong community spirit, including the well-used community centre and fantastic Harmony Gardens, which must be respected. Haringey Council should consult and work with local people to develop sustainable solutions that work for all. The current proposals to demolish large areas of the Farm and replace them with expensive private homes would exclude local people and break up the community. If elected as Tottenham’s MP, I would use all my influence to ensure the council works with local residents and prevent any attempt to build on part of the wonderful, award-winning Lordship Rec.
Do you think prison needs to be tougher?
The UK imprisons more people than any other European country. There are currently almost 86,000 prisoners in England and Wales; most have mental health issues, no educational qualifications or are addicted to drink or drugs, according to official statistics. Most will reoffend once released. Punishment for its own sake doesn’t work. The Green Party would reduce the prison population by introducing restorative justice, in which the offender makes amends to the victim and community. We would also ensure greater opportunity for rehabilitation for people who are imprisoned, such as education and real work, so they are better equipped to face society when they are released
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