The IW Observer invited the Island’s Parliamentary hopefuls to give a brief insight into their campaigns. We asked some serious questions alongside a few more light-hearted ones to give readers a bit of an insight into their personalities.
We wanted to know who they would vote for if they (or their parties) weren’t standing and asked them to tell the office a joke. Bob Seely was the only candidate who couldn’t make it into our office due to ‘campaign commitments’, so his interview was conducted over the phone.
Vix has found this campaign nastier than previous ones, although she puts that down to the Green Party doing well.
The Island is one of only three national target seats which explains the surfeit of her leaflets, ‘some seats have none at all’. The only way to defeat the Conservatives is to work together, so although Vix is ‘not keen’ on electoral pacts, she thinks the Liberal Democrats are justified in standing aside.
The main issue Islanders are raising with her is the NHS, including mental health and GP services, and she regards this as proof the two main parties have ‘failed spectacularly’. On Brexit she is concerned that even if it happens in January, it will still go on and on as the difficult details haven’t been agreed.
Unsurprisingly Vix wants a fairer voting system as whoever wins the election nationally it will be with a minority of votes cast. She worries that Parliament is very out of touch, people think it is for the elite, but it should be for all of us. In this election you are voting for an ambassador and somebody who will fight for the Isle of Wight, not a party representative. More surprisingly if she really had to vote for one of her opponents it would probably be Daryll Pitcher, he’s wrong on many things but at least he’s consistent and has grafted for years, ‘unlike the Labour Party candidate’.
When asked to tell us a joke: ‘What’s long and sticky? – a stick’, drew groans around the office, but overall Vix was positive and upbeat.
Richard’s family are political, but as both parents were Conservatives, standing for the Labour Party is a departure from family tradition. Growing up during the miners’ strike and watching people struggling to decide whether to heat or eat has shaped his political views, but there are few ‘right’ answers, he believes we always need to try to find a common way forward.
He is loving the campaign and feels privileged to be taking part, admitting it will be an uphill struggle to win, but believes it can be done. Richard loves talking to people and finding out about their lives, so campaigning is right up his street. He would find it difficult to vote for anything other than Labour, but under duress would choose Karl Love because he is ‘passionate about the Island’.
Brexit is not coming up when he talks to Islanders, the big issues are the NHS and education. He voted Remain, but now feels we must get on with Brexit for the sake of the country. His first act as MP would be getting the ferry companies regulated, ‘as we can’t have two private companies holding the Island to ransom’.
He believes that the LibDems not standing may rebound on the Green Party because people don’t like being told how to vote, and Bob Seely’s Island Deal will never happen as there is no incentive for a Conservative Government to help a safe seat. His joke about Basque Separatists was well delivered – he has done stand-up comedy and it shows. Perhaps a good training for our MP.
In the blue corner is Bob Seely, seemingly the clear favourite, although he insists he is taking nothing for granted. Subject to party ratification he always wanted to seek re-election, ‘to complete unfinished work in the interests of the Island’.
He wants to continue delivering to the Island, and get Brexit done. During canvassing, many residents have raised ‘why haven’t we left the EU?’ as one of their main questions.
He is adamant he will vote for Boris’ Brexit deal until we are out, saying that with a Conservative majority there’s a good chance it can still be achieved by January 31, allowing Government to get back to important matters, including health and education
His priorities if re-elected will be working to improve the Island Plan, prioritise housing for Islanders and protect green fields from development; deliver a better deal for public services, and improve higher education and work prospects.
He wants to get the Island deal in place, see greater funding for the NHS and more money for education. He can’t see a Fixed Link evolving, because of the cost and length of time involved, but he wants to improve ferry services, saying bad weather should be the only reason for cancellations, not staff sickness! As for the opposition he ‘respects Richard Quigley and thinks Karl Love has fought a great race’.
He refutes suggestions he spends too much time abroad rather than on the Island, saying his priority is always to champion the Island in Whitehall, ‘putting it first over everything else’. He also says his main address has been on the Island for nearly a decade; he lives here, and loves living here.
Carl is standing because of the poor standard of representation in Westminster and is certain he could do a better job. When asked if he is enjoying the campaign his answer is non-committal, saying he has put himself out of his comfort zone.
He is scathing about some other candidates, particularly Bob Seely, but has some good words for Richard Quigley who ‘wants the best for the Island’, but couldn’t vote for him because of Labour’s manifesto. It is not news to hear that all roads lead to a fixed link for Carl. The NHS, education and life opportunities for young people are issues Islanders are raising with him and all would be transformed with affordable, unscheduled, 24-hour access to the mainland.
He is scathing of Boris’s Brexit deal which he believes would leave us with another decade of negotiations while we carry on paying into the EU. Another deal he dislikes is the LibDem decision to stand down for the Green Party, which he describes as a cynical ploy to gain power.
A vote for Carl shows that you are in favour of a fixed link, which will help further the cause, even if he doesn’t win. Like the other independent candidates, he is putting his own money on the line and says he would consider giving a large chunk of his MP salary to charity. As part of the Independent Network he would have no party whip and would vote according to the best interests of the Island. His joke? ‘What makes me cross? Lollipop men’.
Karl describes himself as a community worker with a lot to offer. A cancer scare caused him to re-evaluate life, and he decided the time had come to stand up for the Island he loves and its residents.
Passionate about equality, inclusion and diversity he will put people before politics. Strength areas are health, the environment and education. Due to his dyslexia he has known struggles and his message is ‘Never give up, if I can do it, you can do it’.
Surprised at the number of people fed up with Brexit, Karl thinks local issues are more important, those being raised with him are the environment, mental health and cross-Solent transport. He will prioritise fighting for more funding from Westminster. As County Councillor for East Cowes he worries £4.5million will be wiped off the Council’s budget next year ‘with nowhere left for it to come from’. He wants to make the Solent work for us, with a toll of £1 charged to cars coming from the mainland to provide a fund to pay for Islanders that need to travel to the mainland for health treatment and green community initiatives. The ‘magic money tree’ that the main parties talk about it is not infinite, so we need innovative thinking to help ourselves.
Although he voted to remain, Karl believes it is the duty of an MP to carry out the will of the people on Brexit. He wants Islanders to know that he knows their vote is precious and every single vote he gets he will value personally. He says he is no good at telling jokes.
With ‘no real Brexit candidate’ standing, Daryll decided to give people a proper Brexit option. A seasoned campaigner from his 10 years with UKIP he is finding his last-minute decision to stand has left him with not enough time to do the job properly.
The withdrawal deal on offer from the Tories has many problems, ties us into the European Court of Justice and doesn’t take back control of our foreign policy and fisheries, to name just a few. His command of technical detail is impressive, as you would expect from someone who has worked in Brussels.
He doesn’t repay the compliment Vix paid him by saying he would vote for her, he would probably spoil his ballot paper, but he clearly gets on with some of the other candidates personally. The issues being raised on the doorstep are NHS, ferries and education as well as Brexit, which properly done would enable Parliament to address them. He wants to secure extra local powers from Government so that local communities can direct their own future.
Standing as an independent is ‘hard work’, and he is ‘realistic’ saying it is not necessarily about winning, but giving people the option to vote for what they believe in. He has kind words for the IW Observer, saying he supports a genuinely local paper. Questioned about his fairly new moustache he claims it is useful as a talking point. His favourite joke is ‘Just before my grandfather died, we covered his back in lard. He went downhill very quickly’.