Great Britain

General election 2019: this is why Preston's candidates want you to vote for them

Preston has been a Labour-held seat since it re-emerged as a single constituency in 1983.

But the margins of victory have varied significantly in that time. Sir Mark Hendrick - who has represented the constituency since 2000 - secured his party's highest ever share of the vote in the city, at 68 percent, in the 2017 election.

From top left - Neil Darby (Liberal Democrats), Michael Welton (Green Party), Sir Mark Hendrick (Labour), Rob Sherratt (Brexit Party) and Michele Scott (Conservative)

From top left - Neil Darby (Liberal Democrats), Michael Welton (Green Party), Sir Mark Hendrick (Labour), Rob Sherratt (Brexit Party) and Michele Scott (Conservative)

CONSTITUENCY BOUNDARIES

The seat lies wholly within the Preston City Council borders, but does not cover the whole area - with much of the north of the city sitting in a neighbouring constituency. For Parliamentary purposes, Preston runs from Red Scar in the north east to Larches in the west. Check your constituency at www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/election-maps/gb

CANDIDATE PROFILES (in order of vote share at the last election)

MARK HENDRICK (Labour and Co-Operative)

What are the biggest issues at this election?

Brexit - if we do leave the EU, then how we leave with a good deal [or whether] we don’t leave, because people decide they don’t want to as a result of a confirmatory vote. The NHS - if we leave the EU, there is a huge threat of an American trade deal that would raise the price of drugs. Climate change - we’re about to approach a cliff edge and unless we take action now it will be catastrophic for our children.

Is there any version of Brexit which you could support, even a Labour-negotiated one?

Yes - a Brexit that has got access to the single market of goods and services - which would mean our economy could continue to function well - and membership of the customs union, which will allow tariff-free trade. We’d be out of the political institutions, but still have all of the benefits which make the economy work well. Without that sort of good deal, I’d rather remain in the EU.

Hasn’t Labour been quite timid with the extra investment promised for the NHS, taking it back only to around the historical average increase?

There’s been under-investment in the health service over the last nine years of coalition and Conservative government. We’ve got to raise that investment, but it’s going to take time - it takes three to four years to train a nurse and six to seven years to train a doctor.

There is a lot of interfaith work which goes on in Preston, so have you been uncomfortable about the antisemitism claims which have recently dogged Labour?

I’m uncomfortable about all the claims that are dogging all the parties - whether antisemitism in the Labour Party or Islamophobia in the Conservative Party. We need to bring the country together, not use divisive terms about women wearing head covers that look like letterboxes.

Isn’t Labour’s policy to nationalise key industries purely an ideological one with no evidence that services will be run any more effectively, even if you put aside the cost of the programme?

The market can be a reasonable mechanism for delivering goods and services, but if it’s not properly regulated and the industry is not operating properly, very often it needs the government to take it over. We’ve also got to improve [train] services - the way to do that is to have integrated services, so it works for passengers and not just the profiteers who own these private companies.

Complete the sentence, “Vote for me, because…”

I’m going to fight for the big issues that affect Preston - the NHS, climate change and making sure we can have a good deal on Brexit or can remain.

MICHELE SCOTT (Conservative)

What are the biggest issues in this election?

Brexit, the NHS and the police. Undermining of our democracy is a massive issue - a majority voted to leave in the referendum and that process has been undermined by MPs who should be following their constituents’ wishes. We will increase funding in the NHS and put 20,000 more police officers on our streets.

You say you want to see Brexit completed - wasn’t the easiest way to do that for Boris Johnson to continue pressing ahead with his own deal which Parliament initially approved?

But it was being sabotaged at every point by MPs working to their own agenda, not the agenda of their constituents. Every single Conservative candidate has pledged to support the Prime Minister to get Brexit done. With a Conservative majority, we will get it done by 31st January.

Austerity hit local councils hard - but there is nothing in the Conservative manifesto which says you have anything to offer by way of recompense, even though you say austerity is over.

But the spend, spend, spend of the previous Labour government left us in that position - and you cannot keep spending if the money isn’t there. I’ve worked in local government, so I’ve experienced those cuts. We all have to cut our cloth accordingly and we can’t keep borrowing our way out - we have to work to the budget that we have.

Almost 10 years on, are you saying there is still no money to rebuild the frontline services provided by local government?

We want to boost businesses and have higher tax income through successful businesses, to support local government and our other local services like the NHS and the police. That’s what the Conservatives are about, not pricing people out of the market so their businesses go bust.

You have promised 20,000 more police officers, but they will only replace the 20,000 lost over the last decade - was that a cut a mistake in retrospect?

I don’t entirely agree with your figures, but there will be 20,000 more police on our streets - and I’ll be making sure a good proportion of that comes to Preston, because crime is higher than average across Preston.

Complete the sentence, “Vote for me, because…”

As your MP, I’ll be visible, accessible and proactive - and I’m not hearing that’s what you’ve had in Preston. I’ll use my experience to challenge policy and get to the root of finding solutions for homelessness and supporting mental health. Only a Conservative vote will help ensure Brexit will happen.

NEIL DARBY (Liberal Democrat)

What are the biggest issues in this election?

It has got to be Brexit - if we don’t get this sorted out, then we’re not going to be able to do anything that’s promised in anyone’s manifesto. If you vote for us, we will stop Brexit and that will be the end of it - then we can get back to dealing with all of the important things in this country, such as the climate change emergency.

If we did stay in the EU, would you even want to see it reformed - or is it a perfect institution in Lib Dem eyes?

Absolutely not - there’s plenty of things that the EU needs to do. The Common Agricultural Policy is one of the big issues. It’s important that we remain, but also work with our allies within the EU to continue to reform to make sure it’s doing the best job for everyone across the whole continent.

Why do the Lib Dems have so little confidence that the UK could make its own way in the world?

It’s not that we don't think Britain can stand on its own two feet - clearly it can. But there’s a difference between standing on your own two feet and flying. The UK was one of the best-performing economies in the OECD over the last ten years, but ever since we decided to leave the EU, the economy has struggled to keep up.

Isn’t it reckless for the Lib Dems to plan to legalise cannabis when you consider the psychotic conditions which the NHS says are associated with it?

I think quite the opposite. Because you have an unregulated market, there’s no control over what actually goes into that product. If you have a regulated market, you can tax it and put that money into treatment to actually help people who are stuck on the drug to get off it and to educate people and let them know about its effects. The answer is to treat it as a health issue rather than a criminal one.

If 16 and 17-year-olds can’t get married without parental consent or even buy an alcoholic drink, why do the Lib Dems want to give them the vote?

Because they’re not too young to pay taxes, so it’s only right that they get to have a say in how those taxes are spent.

Complete the sentence, “Vote for me, because…”

The Liberal Democrats are the only party who’ve got a manifesto which is fully-funded, as agreed by the Institute for Fiscal Studies. The other parties can promise you this or that, but because you can’t see how they are going to pay for it, you cannot trust any of them. I’m a local candidate and I think it’s important you get a local champion to be your MP.

MICHAEL WELTON (Green Party)

What are the biggest issues in this election?

This is the climate emergency election - that’s the number one issue for us and it should be the number one issue for everyone. We’ll invest £100bn a year for the next 10 years to combat the climate emergency and we’ll save money by doing that, because if we don’t combat it now, the situation will only get far worse and cost us far more.

Climate issues feature in the manifestos of the three main parties - wouldn’t people who share your concerns be better assessing what they have to offer rather than casting a protest vote for the Green Party?

I think it’s fantastic that the other parties are jumping on board with our agenda - we do tend to be ahead of the game. But if you look at what’s on offer from the different parties, you’ll find that the Green Party programme to combat the climate emergency is much more far-reaching and immediate. We’ll get going straight away - because if we don’t start now, it’s too late.

Do you accept that some people will just not want to adopt the lifestyle changes you’d like to see, like less frequent flying and reduced meat and dairy consumption?

We’re not saying everybody should become vegan, but we would work with our farmers to change farming practices to make sure we’re producing our food in a much more environmentally-friendly way and producing more food which is environmentally sustainable - so less of the livestock products and growing more fruit and vegetables for immediate consumption.

There would be an economic cost to the £100bn a year investment which you are planning, wouldn’t there?

The carbon tax that we’ll bring in to help pay for that investment will help move our economy in the right direction in the first place. We’ve got to stop the big companies that are emitting so many fossil fuels from just getting away with it - we need to pay the true cost of the emissions that are being caused.

You want businesses to bear the cost of disposing of their packaging - is that feasible for small firms?

We’ve got extensive measures to help businesses to transfer into the low carbon economy. We’ll also be investing a huge amount in training, so that people have the skills they need within the low carbon economy and also looking at things like community energy schemes - so more of that money can stay in the local community.

Complete the sentence, “Vote for me, because…”

We are the party that will make the country cleaner and greener and will combat the climate emergency.

ROB SHERRATT (Brexit Party)

What are the biggest issues in this election?

Trying to bring order to the chaos we’re seeing from most parliamentarians - the lack of truth, denials and misrepresentation we get from them. We are the only party that will support a clean-break Brexit.

By potentially splitting the Leave vote, aren't you self-evidently jeopardising the one thing you want most - Brexit?

I don’t believe so, I think it was a good idea not to split the Conservative vote [by not standing in Tory-held seats] - because the aim of both of us is Brexit.

Various forecasts suggest that, deal or no deal, the economy will be smaller ten years after Brexit than it is today - the sunlit uplands that the Brexit Party paint just don’t exist, do they?

You always get scaremongering [and claims] that people didn’t know what they were voting for - I did and everybody I’ve spoken to did. It was based it on fact and that fact hasn’t changed. We’ve got a lot of supposition as to all the ills and things that are going to happen - forecasts that, in recent years, have never turned out to be correct anyway.

Isn’t the Brexit Party effectively a single-issue campaign and, if and when Brexit is completed, won't the party be finished?

It's going to be a long time before we see a proper clean-break Brexit. Whether or not what Boris Johnson is looking for is exactly that, I’m not sure - when I see the smiles on the faces of EU [senior officials], it worries me. We also want a proportional representation system and that would give a better chance for people to get a representative that they voted for into Parliament.

If we don’t have the free trade deal by the end of next year that the Brexit Party wants to see, the only economically responsible thing to do is ask for an extension, isn’t it?

It’s all [presented] as a problem that we will have and that we are creating - but the countries with the goods to sell won’t have that market [without a deal]. They want to do the deals as much as we do - and I’m sure between the UK and the EU, something will be worked out. There are entrepreneurs on both sides.

Complete the sentence, “Vote for me, because…”

The Brexit Party is sincere, it speaks the truth and we will do everything we can to support democracy as everybody should know it in this country and as it always has been - and to fight for what we all truly believe is British.

2017 FULL RESULT

Sir Mark Hendrick (Labour) - 24,210 votes (68 percent)

Kevin Beaty (Conservative) - 8,487 (23.8 percent)

Simon Platt (UKIP) - 1,348 votes (3.8 percent)

Neil Darby (Liberal Democrat) - 1,204 votes (3.4 percent)

Anne Power (Green Party) - 348 votes (1.0 percent)

EU REFERENDUM RESULT

53.3 percent voted Leave (Preston City Council area)

CONSTITUENCY FACTFILE

Population - 96.719

Ethnicity - White 76.3 percent; Asian 18.5 percent

UK-born population - 83.8 percent (Middle East and Asia - 8.5 percent)

Unemployment benefit claimant rate - 6.8 percent (4.9 percent North West average)

Median weekly wage - £470 (£560 NW average)

Areas of the constituency in the top ten percent most deprived nationally - 15 out of 83 (Preston City Council area)

Source: House of Commons Library

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