The Common Good

A series of questions on pressing matters put to the Parliamentary Candidates

Click on a question to go to the Candidates' answers

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Topic Question

Brexit If you had a crystal ball in which you could envision our country in two years' time, aside from party posturing and political dogma, where do you feel we will be? Will the country be better or worse off?
Brexit This election has incontrovertibly been called by Prime Minister Johnson as a way of breaking the Brexit deadlock. His hope is for a mandate to "get it done". Should empowering a leader for the negotiation be the voters' priority, rather than voting for the manifesto of a party?
Economy Austerity is over. Spending and borrowing is set to rise in ways that, five years ago, were unimaginable. Is this fiscally responsible? Does it not undermine any gains from the 8 years of austerity?
Economy Austerity imposed the greatest burden upon the poorest in our society. How will you prevent them being excluded from the promised spending spree?
Economy The Northern Powerhouse has frequently been referred to by the major parties. How will you combat the suggestion that this is a cynical play for votes rather than a genuine commitment to the growth of the northern economy? How will you ensure that the Darlington economy benefits from this initiative?
Economy Rebalancing the UK economy has and will require some difficult choices. Notwithstanding the debate about which department manages it, what stance will you take concerning the budget for foreign aid (currently 0.7% GDP)?
Economy Poverty is calculated relative to the economy. That poverty exists in the UK is evidenced by the existence and normalization of food banks. What is your Party's position on UK poverty and its solution?
Employment How will your party ensure the employment rights currently enjoyed in the UK are fully protected after the UK leaves the EU?
Employment The North-east has the highest unemployment rate in the country and those in work are the poorest paid. How is this inequality to be addressed?
Employment The introduction of Universal Credit was designed to encourage a work culture rather than a benefits culture. Has it been successful?
Peace and Security Will the terrorist threat to the UK increase as a result of Brexit?
Peace and Security If Brexit re-ignites the Irish conflict, is that a price too high to pay?
Peace and Security What is your Party's commitment to defence in financial and moral terms?
Peace and Security How will your government answer the Trident question, and what is its stance on nuclear arms?
Caring for Planet Earth The UN's 2018 climate report said that we have until 2030 to keep temperature rises below 1.5C. So, 10 years to make the crucial changes needed to maintain a liveable planet and this Government will be in power for 5 of them. Targets are easy to set, but what will you do, both at a personal and in a public sense, to translate targets into radical and urgent action?
Caring for Planet Earth The UK signed up to the EU Renewable Energy Directive, which includes a UK target of 15% of energy from renewable sources (wind, wave, solar and biomass) by 2020. Commitments were also made to reduce greenhouse emissions by 80% by 2050. Now that we are leaving Europe, will these targets be abandoned?
Caring for Planet Earth Many people can't afford to heat their homes. We can't afford to ignore climate change either. Both the Labour and Conservative Manifesto commitments are towards creating carbon neutral living, with grants for infrastructure, etc., but how is the predicted increase in day to day running cost to be met by the poorest in our community?
The injustice of Homelessness Darlington is one of the few places in the country with a zero count of rough sleepers and a strategic policy of No First Night Out. What will you do to ensure that early intervention and homelessness services are properly funded rather than sustained by ad hoc Government headline grabbing initiatives?
The injustice of Homelessness What is your attitude to individuals who beg in Darlington's Town Centre?
The injustice of Homelessness If a homeless individual presented at your surgery, what action would you take?
Asylum and Immigration According to research, Britain is one of the worst destinations for people seeking asylum in Western Europe. Britain takes fewer refugees, offers less generous financial support (about £5.50 a day), provides housing that is often substandard, does not give asylum seekers the right to work, has been known to punish those who volunteer, and routinely forces people into destitution and even homelessness when they are not granted refugee status due to bureaucratic delays. The delays extend far beyond the government's 6 month target, which is why it was recently abandoned. What can be changed to avoid deepening the pain of individuals who are already traumatised by the journey to Britain?
Asylum and Immigration It is estimated that there are somewhere between 300,000 and a million illegal immigrants in the UK. What is your Party's policy in relation to these individuals?
Religious Faith in Public Life Do you have established relationships with Darlington's faith communities (not just Christian)? If not, how do you start to engage with them?
Religious Faith in Public Life How can the insights that faith traditions have about the privilege and responsibility of living in community be shared and developed for the common good?
Criminal Justice The recent government commitment to increase the number of police in the country has the potential to bring approximately 200 more officers into Durham and Darlington. When so much crime is of a technical nature (e.g. on-line, cyber), is increasing officers on the beat putting the resource in the right place?
Criminal Justice For many, prison is a revolving door because the resources for resettlement and re-integration are lacking. Will your party invest to rehabilitate the person and save the cost of reimprisonment?
Criminal Justice 'County Lines' - when drug gangs from big cities expand their operations to smaller towns, often using violence to drive out local dealers and exploiting children and vulnerable people to sell drugs - is reaching epidemic proportions. It is driven by money. Would a change in drug laws be a game changer?
Criminal Justice Public confidence in the justice system is undermined by sentences that do not reflect the severity of the crime or the actual time to be spent in prison. How can confidence be restored?
The gap between rich and poor In your opinion, what is the route to building a more equitable society? Has taxation a role to play?
The gap between rich and poor It has been argued that work is the route out of poverty, but only if work pays. Will you commit to making the minimum wage a living wage?
The gap between rich and poor A child living in poverty judges the society that allows it. The fact that 35% of children in Darlington are living in poverty is a cause for shame. What will you do to ensure that a childhood in economic poverty does not translate into adult poverty?
Life and Death What is your view of an individual with a terminal disease possessing the legal right to end their own life? How would you seek to make your view a representative rather than a personal one? Should the law be changed?
Social Care How does your Party envisage funding social care in a sustainable way for the future?
Social Care What measures can be taken locally and through legislation to improve the quality of care in the sector? Is it simply down to higher staffing levels and better training, or are there other factor to take account of?
Social Care Will your government commit to funding research into the costly ailments of an increasing elderly population (e.g. dementia) as a way of preventing/reducing social care needs?
Health and Well-being About 7% of health spending currently goes to private companies. What assurances will your Party give that privatisation will not compromise the 'free at the point of need' ethos of the NHS?
Health and Well-being Post Brexit, will the NHS be "up for sale" in trade talks, particularly with the US?
Health and Well-being Demands on the health service will always outstrip the capacity to supply. What will your government do to ensure that mental health is funded properly?
Health and Well-being The public have been lied to before about spending on the NHS. What can you say to reassure the electorate that the current statements relating to health spending are real, and not just electoral propaganda?
Health and Well-being Some estimate that only about 20% of the impact on our health is down to health care, the rest is down to wider factors such as family, education, employment and housing. How could the NHS develop a more holistic model of care?
Equality and Diversity With which minority groups in Darlington have you actively engaged? (Darlington is often referred to as the Traveller capital of the North).
Equality and Diversity The Christian church is rooted in Judaism. It is easy to denounce anti-Semitism in words, but what action will you take to protect the rights and dignity of Jewish people?
Equality and Diversity Has the Brexit debate increased racial tension in Darlington?
Education and Young People Figures from the Department of Education put the North East at the bottom of the class in term of educational achievement. What can be done to improve this situation?
Education and Young People Head-teachers are asking parents to contribute to the costs of not just the extras, but the essentials. How are schools to be adequately funded? What is your party commitment?
Education and Young People With 35% of Darlington's children living in poverty, and with such children estimated to be over a year and a half behind more advantaged peers in their development by age 5, how can the school readiness gap be closed?
Education and Young People What is your Party's position on tuition fees?
Education and Young People What is your Party's position regarding Ofsted?
The Voluntary Sector What is your understanding of the voluntary and community sector in Darlington? Are you involved in it? Do you volunteer?
The Voluntary Sector It is estimated that the voluntary and community sector nationally spend £1.1bn on gaining funds. This is money that could be used pursuing charitable aims. What action can you take to ensure a strong and properly resourced third sector both nationally and in Darlington?
The Voluntary Sector Should government encourage Local Authorities to add a percentage charge or levy to the domestic rates to support the local voluntary sector?
What we expect of our political representative Why do you want to be MP for Darlington?
What we expect of our political representative What is your connection to Darlington? If you were elected and are not already resident, how would you root yourself in this community?
What we expect of our political representative Serving as an MP there will be occasions on which you will make decisions that are complex and contentious. Has there been an occasion in the past when you have had to make a stand and defend an unpopular decision? From where have you derived strength?
What we expect of our political representative The character of the leader of a political party usually shapes the character of the party as a whole. How do you view the leader of your party?