From the Workers’ oppositional point of view, how can we view Ian Stephens candidature?
Ian Stephens is an Independent who has listened, to a certain extent, and worked with the Trades Unions on the island. Some will argue that this position placated the unions and members working at County Hall.
In practice he supported the Trades Council position of supporting the local economy at the time of Austerity – that more should be put into the economy than is taken out. He has worked with others, particularly the IOWTUC, to achieve some funding streams. Unfortunately his emphasis has been towards business rather than the workers. He opposed those on the left who did not want to set a budget at the same time pointing his finger at the Government who were cutting funds. He presented this as a tactical decision rather than one of principle.
The Trades Councils, along with most people, encouraged the Independent project that unseated the last administration. After 18 months it will have a measurable track record.
So far the situation has been better than if the Conservatives were in control. Up to now they have listened to the electorate and have been more democratic with some anomalies of course. Will they have the courage to further the cause of the people if there is more Austerity? Will they have the power to stand up to further cuts? All of this depends upon the shape of the Government and character of the Independents.
The May election will see Ian stand as a candidate as part of the guaranteeing of a future for the Independents. It is vital for the island at this time to have a candidate that can first and foremost represent the electorate here. Probably the Independents have the only real chance of unseating the sitting MP.
There is a question of policies on the national and even international plane but the most essential questions are to do with the island, the future and existence of local democracy and taking a stand against Austerity in favour of survival and growth.
Soon Ian Stephens will be meeting with the new owners and the CEO of Wightlink about the important question about connectivity, the service and the cost to islanders. Ian cannot come out of that meeting without maintaining the same stance as with the previous owners. He may want to approach the new owners with optimistic open mindedness but the issues for negotiation remain the same. There has to be favourable operational plans for islanders. The cost of sailings needs to be drastically reduced.
Ian must intervene with Gurit to assist workers with their jobs.
Ian must take a clear-cut stand on the Undercliff landslip in Ventnor, standing up to Island Roads and the Government who refuse to assist.
The Independent position needs to be an Alternative one from the Westminster cartel on all issues. It has to be contrary to the current positions of Government on education or the health service or Austerity. It has to be opposed to neo-liberal privatisation or paying the rich and the banks.
It cannot be pro-war in foreign policy. The consequences of supporting the Americans or the EU in Ukraine would be devastating and would not be Independent either.
These are the basic issues that an Alternative and Independent candidate should hold.
This is consistent with our approach to all progressive candidates.