Rory Stewart

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Rory Stewart

Live, one-hour webchat with Rory Stewart, the Conservative Party's parliamentary candidate for Penrith and The Border

    No seat is 'safe'. People thought Westmorland and Lonsdale was safe. And there will be many Labour MPs in Scotland finding that even super safe seats with 60% majorities on the edge of Glasgow may fall to the SNP. I love Cumbria I am deeply interested in it.One of the most satisfying parts of my job is being a local constituency MP, walking around the constituency, visiting charities, schools and businesses. I think its a real privilege to be deeply connected to local constituency affairs.
    Kelvin - I wouldn't be in favour with a COnservative / SNP alliance. I be;leive
    We need to make citizens much more deeply involved in politics. I think thats starts with getting people in volved in parish councils and local issues. So they can have a realistic idea of the frustrations and potential of politics.
    Tom - I think we may have to agree to disagree on education. I am afraidBritish education and educational standards have fallen dramatically in comparison with the rest of the OECD. By 2010 we had fallen badly behind in basic subjects like maths. Employers have been increasingly frustrated with the quality of applicants they have been receiving. But its not just about the economy. A challenging testing education that stretches people and demands the hjighest standards lays the foundations not just success in a career, but for an engaged and fulfilled life.
    Hi AWAZ. I have a lot of admiration for organisation campaigns. But I don't agree with you on this.The way to support rural communities is through better infrastructure, better education, a more dynamic economy and a culture of opportunity and confidence. I don't believe that trying to use governmnet legislation, courts and juducial review is the correct mechanism in this case. It should be a role for local democracies, not for the judicial system.
    The election is dominated by important domestic issues. Should there be a greater focus on global issues and if so, what do you see as the most important ones?
    Kathy - I believe there should be much more focus on global issues. Of course domestic isssues will always be the centre of any campaign And they will be the focus of 97% of govt funding decisions. But we live in a deeply interconnected world - 130,000 Britons live in Dubai for example. Our economy is one of the most open in the world. The world is getting ever more dangerous, from Russian in Ukraine, through to Nigeria, Libya, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. I wish this campaign challenged politicians to think and talk more about Britain's place in the world.
    The state of our roads is shocking. Rural roads are ridden with potholes and the links to the north east from Carlisle and Penrith are dreadful. What will you do about improving them?
    Jill - You're right. In the end, unfortunately, roads are about money. I don't want to be too party-political here, bu tthe govt inherited a £140 billion annual deficit. In other words, the last govt was spending £140bn more per year than it was taking in in taxation revenue. It had raised expectations, and got people used to a much higher level of spending. That means that we inherited huge numbers of commitmetns, in terms of salaries, pensions, buildings, welfare payments, etc. And we have had to prioritise things. Our party has decided to protect spending on the NHS and education, but almost every other govt department has had to be reduced, and that has meant less money for roads. Personally, I am very disappointed by that, and I amhopeful that we have a chance to repair our economy under a Conservative govt, we can increase investment in roads
    Apologies everyone - I have become like a hamster running around on the wheel - far more Qs coming in than I can answer. SO I will try to get through as many as I can.
    Rory, I want to know your views on access to justice?

    We have seen under this administration what of the most worrying attacks on the freedom of your constituents to seek justice and redress through the courts, both in relation to cuts in legal aid, restrictions in the ability to judicially review decisions and deterrent rises in court fees. Through the introduction of deterrent court fees, employees who are wrongly dismissed can no longer access the employment tribunals unless they can find £1200 to pay for the fee. This has led to a 60-705 drop in claims but has done nothing to improve access to justice. Did you support this measure and what if anything will you do to reverse these fees.

    If one of your constituents is seriously injured in an accident through no more fault of their own, they must now (since 9 March 2015) pay a court fee based on 5% of their claim. If therefore they need substantial future care in excess of £200,000 they must, just to issue their claim pay the maximum fee of £10,000. the more disabled you are and the greater your disability, the more you have to pay.

    Did you support your party in bringing through this increase in court fee for the most seriously injured in our society?

    What if anything will you do to reverse your administration's attack on access to justice?
    Andrew - this needs a longer reply. But I agree with you. Court fees are an issue. Sadly, there are many competing priorities. See my reply to Jill. An dwe are having to make some difficult decisions to balance them out. I also feel that there have been cases in the past, where the legal aid system hasn't always worked to everyone's best advantage, but I agree it is something that needs much more discussion, and it is an area where lawyers in particular, can play a reall y constructive role in designing a better system, which is sustainable and affordable.
    I will be voting for the first time this year, but many of my friends say there's no point because none of the politicians and parties are saying anything they understand. Why should we be voting?
    Sorry again - don't normally deal with anonymous posts. Who are you? Where are you? I can try to explain more if i have an idea of where exactly you are based in the constituency>
    With a lot of young people leaving the constituency, and/or not returning after graduating etc, it's facing an ageing population. Is there any scope for pushing businesses and supporting small ones to offer graduate placements and similar? Young people seem to be forgotten about when it comes to local issues.
    melissa tell me what it is you are looking to do in cumbria? We have a good employment record here - many many apprenticeships - and thousands of small businesses - it is - compared to much of the country - a very good place for a young person starting off and looking for work. Obviously it will be a different life and work to waht you might find in London for example - but there are a lot of opportunities here. by all means email if I can help
    I live in a village on the border of your constituency and Carlisle. I never see any politicians. Will you be trying to reach all rural areas?
    Pam, where are you? As you know there are 250 separate villages in teh consituency but I believe I have been to almost every one. I was up in Bewcastle and Bailey last week for example - moving between farms, I walk alot through the more remote rural area. Where are you - we'll come and see you
    The bookies currently have a coalition as the most likely scenario - but I think we need a majority if we are really to give teh leadership and energy which I feel Britain needs
    In your election pamphlet in 2010 you claimed to have been a serving soldier in Iraq. I have read that you were a "suck it and see soldier" for 9 months when you were 17 before going to university. What is the truth about your army career ?
    Hey Nugent. I was in Iraq from 2003-2004 as the Deputy Governorate coordinatorr Maysan and Dhi Qar - based with the KOSB, the Light Infantry, and then with teh Italian military. If you want to read more about my time then - and back in Iraq in 2005 - i describe it at some might say tedious length in Occupational Hazards. Many many other details to all your questions can be found in teh book. By all means come back if you have more.

    Occupational Hazards: My time governing in Iraq - Rory Stewart

    Rory StewartThe Price of the Marshes tells the story of Rory's year travelling through Iraq. Read all about Rory Stewart's adventure here.
    Otherwise, I served in Indonesia, and as British representative to Montenegro. Between 2000 and 2002, the Foreign Office granted me leave of absence, which I used to travel 6000 miles on foot across Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nepal.

    In 2005, after a year at Harvard University, I moved to Afghanistan where I established and ran a charity, the Turquoise Mountain Foundation, and lived for three years in Kabul.
    Do you want to be prime minister?
    Thanks everyone so much for the patience you showed - sorry I wasn't able to get to everyone - my fingers are falling off now and I think I've damaged teh News and Star keyboard - (at least something has gonE DODGY WITH CAPS LOCKS). i WOULD LOVE TO BE foreign secretary perhaps if I were very lukcy - but that is a very long-term aim. I would also love a chance to do more here locally in Cumbria
    Thank you to everyone who submitted questions. Sorry we couldn't get through them all - we simply ran out of time.
    Thank you to Rory for agreeing to take part.
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