Transcripts of Something New videos, podcasts, speeches, etc

  • Hi. My name's James Smith and I'm the party leader and Horsham parliamentary candidate for Something New. That's our name, and it's what we stand for. A while ago, a friend of mine had an excellent idea: why all the fuss over who's in which leader's debate, when we can just take part online and add our own thoughts? That's exactly what I'm doing here. As voters, you deserve to know what I think about the same things that the big parties are being asked in the first leader's debate. I will answer each of the questions from that debate with my own opinions, so you can get to know me and what I believe. Unfortunately, there won't be the rough and tumble of live debate, but I think we're all a bit sick of politicians talking over each other anyway. Let's try Something New.

  • Well, our questions are going to focus on some of the big political issues that we all care about and that effect everyday life. First, your opening statement.

  • Everything's changing, and our democracy is no exception. What will government look like in the future? Well, we think it will look a lot more like you and I. We want to build a society that's excited by the future, that embraces change and progress - not one that's afraid of it. By embracing the future, and working with it, we can all shape the world we want to see. Protect what needs protecting. Solve the problems that need solving. And rebuild a sense of community that has been driven out of us over the last few decades.

    At Something New, we've created a political manifesto that's unique. Everyone and anyone, regardless of whether you're a party member or even a registered voter, can add their own policy ideas to it. Imagine Wikipedia, but for building a plan of the future you want to see. It's a whole new way of collaborating to build a truly inclusive vision. It's a vision of a society where every citizen can have their say, where everyone's fundamental rights are protected, where we can make the tough decisions to make sure our society doesn't destroy the environment it depends on.

    We believe that a good society is one that cares about all it's citizens... and protects it's most vulnerable. That a good government is one that bases it's decisions on evidence and reason, not ideology. And that a good future needs us all to work together, nationally and internationally. We have it in us to be a great society. Let's build the vision that will take us there together.

  • Leaders, thank you very much indeed for your opening statements tonight. And the format for tonight is simple, our audience will put their questions directly to the leaders. Each will then have one minute to answer before we open things up for a free-flowing debate, and our first question tonight comes from Johnny Tudor.

  • As a 17 year old student of politics, I would like to ask how do each of the party leaders believe they will be able to keep their promises of eliminating the deficit, without raising certain taxes or making vast cuts to vital public services?

  • First, I want to ask, is it even desirable to cut our deficit at the moment? If the government stops spending when the economy slows down, then even more money leaves the system, and we get a vicious circle. Austerity is one reason we've seen the slowest recovery since the 2008 crash in any of the major economies. We injected a huge amount of cash into the financial system after that crash, most of which sits inside banks doing nothing. Imagine if the government had injected it into the real economy instead, where it could actually do some work.

    Now, let's look at where public money comes from. £120 billion a year is lost to tax avoidance. That's greater than all the austerity cuts we've seen. If we simplify the tax code and fund tax enforcement properly, we can avoid cutting services for the most vulnerable.

    But, it goes deeper than that. Some of the fundamental problems with our deficit and national debt are down to the way new money is created. Where most of it benefits banks, not the government its self. We need to reform our monetary system, and change the way money is created, if we're to have any control over our deficit at all.

    All in all, austerity is an ideological attack on our public realm, using the excuse of the 2008 financial crisis as wool to pull over our eyes. Let's stop dismantling the UK's public services, make people pay what they owe, and fix our monetary system instead.

  • Our next question tonight is on the NHS, it's an area where powers are devolved to the Scottish Parliament and to the Assemblies in Wales and Northern Ireland. This debate is about the election of the Parliament at Westminster, where MPs legislate on health matters in England. And our question comes from Terry Kelly.

  • As a 63 year old, I have grown up with the NHS and have recently retired after 30 years of working there, so you can understand I'm strongly passionate about it. My question is this: how would your party ensure long term funding for the NHS whilst keeping it as a public service, accessible to all?

  • In the UK, we're incredibly proud of the NHS, and rightly so. It's one of our greatest achievements. We hear a lot about how the NHS is in crisis - "It's all going wrong" - you never hear the good news. We never talk about how wonderful the NHS is, how it's one of the most effective health services in the world. Something New are dedicated to keeping the NHS 100% publicly owned and free-to-use.

    Health and medical care is a fundamental human right, and we should protect it for everyone. What we would like to see though is the NHS being taken out of the hands of politicians. While it must remain owned by the public, it's far too tempting for governments to meddle and apply top-down reforms that all too often just make matters worse.

    Let's create a public institution with it's own charter, democratic controls, that get party politics out of it. Let's stop mucking around with it, and concentrate on creating the best possible care for patients. We can have a health service that's agile, innovative, and ready for the future. Big changes are coming to healthcare. Let's concentrate on making it work for people, not on carving up the national treasure to sell to the highest bidder.

  • Time now though for our third question, that comes from Joan Richards.

  • As part of Europe, immigration is inevitable. If you were elected, how would you address the issue of immigration?

  • A diverse society makes us stronger, better. Fear of immigration is highest in areas where there is least. The rhetoric over immigration, which is being driven by UKIP, is utterly out of proportion. We hear about benefit tourism, of people coming here just to take advantage of the NHS. Let me state very plainly that numbers are clear, that this is a tiny, tiny problem. Yet we talk about it like it's destroying our society. That is a lie. There are already limits on what benefits new migrants can receive. And don't forget, almost everyone who comes here does so to work. The image of an immigrant family sitting around on the dole, living like kings, is a vicious lie. Nothing more.

    Immigration is essential for our economy, especially with an aging population. We need younger people to work to pay their pensions. It also builds a stronger, more vibrant society. We live in a globalised world now. Disliking and fearing people because of where they're from, is completely outdated. And let's not forget, free movement in the EU goes both ways. There are a huge number of British citizens living abroad, in the EU and beyond. We don't call them immigrants though. We call them ex-pats.

  • Now our next question is from Rebecca Creamer.

  • I'm a 25 year old graduate with a good job, but my generation as a whole have got it pretty tough. It costs us more than our parents to go to uni, we'll work well into our seventies for smaller pensions, and high rents make saving for our own home difficult, if not impossible. We'll be less well off than our parents, and it feels like we'll be paying for other people's mistakes. If you're elected, what will you do for my generation to help us feel optimistic about our future?

  • Something New is all about an optimistic future. We're ready to face up to the challenges that previous generations have left us, and handle them better than they did. We're ready to deal with climate change, financial instability, resource limits and our housing crisis. Our political class sees young people as disengaged, disenchanted with politics, and doesn't respond to their needs.

    We know it's different. We know that young people, and by that I mean half the country, not just some small demographic, are actively engaged with politics, with the way they want their country to be. They're just let down by a system that doesn't hear them and sidelines them as something to be ignored. So what will we do for the younger generation? That's not the question.

    The question is, what sort of country is the younger generation going to create for its self? We're the generation of the network, who're better connected than any human civilisation has ever been. We have enormous power. Let's use it together to build a better society, to engage in the system we have now, and change it. So, what will the world look like in 40 years, when we're the ones who're old and grey? I want to be able to look back and say that our generation was the one who pulled humanity back from the brink of climate change, that managed the biggest energy transition humanity has ever seen and that built a long-term sustainable society at a planetary scale. The generation that fixed everything the previous century left for us to tidy up. We're up to the challenge. Let's get on with it.

  • Ladies and gentlemen, we've come to the end of our free-flowing debate. There's been a lot discussed here over the last two hours. A lot for us all to reflect upon. Before we conclude tonight, I'd like to invite each of the leaders to make a final and brief statement on why they think you should vote for their party on 7th May.

  • To sum up, the country needs Something New. We need vision and optimism. We're not going to build a better future with fear, and misplaced nostalgia. We need to embrace the future, and make it work for everyone. We have to build a government that's transparent, and accountable, where there's no place for back-room deals. That's rational, that deals with issues in a mature way, not that's based on the front page on today's papers. And that's internationalist, keeping the UK status on the world stage, as a leader in international organisations, not as a lonely outsider.

    We have to defend our free society, defending freedom of speech, association and privacy. We need to stop our intelligence agencies from treating us all as if we were terrorist suspects, and we have to defend our public realm from all attacks, whether from ideological cuts, or from badly-made international trade agreements. We have to learn to work together, to collaborate on a national and global level, to build the society of the future.

    But if you take away only one thing, remember this: democracy isn't finished, we can take it forwards, and make it better. Come and help us build our manifesto. It's about you, and it's important that your voice is heard. Come and be part of Something New.