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The Race To The Bath Constituency: An interview with Teresa Hall, Reform UK candidate

Cover Image credit: Reform UK Party Limited

This is part of an election series with all of Bath’s parliamentary candidates – all interviews can be found on our website. Some answers have been edited for legible clarity.

Monday 10th June 2024

Interviewer:  Louise Sadler (in bold)

Interviewee: Teresa Hall, Bath’s Reform UK Parliamentary Candidate

(Self-help fact-checking in italics)

Why did you want to stand as the MP and why the Bath community in particular?

The English side of my family goes back in Bath to the interwar years, so my great-grandparents moved here from Bristol in the interwar years. My dad was here when Bath was blitzed and I started coming to Bath when I was two years old for my summer holidays. I then moved to Bath when I was 19, back in 1985, to study.  I moved to the North to complete my studies, but I moved back in 1995, so I’ve lived most of my adult life in Bath. My children, all their living memories, the second one was born and bred in Bath and the eldest, all his living memories are in Bath and they still live here. So Bath is what they consider home in the UK and I only live down the road at the minute in Trowbridge, so only 20 minutes. So Bath is my British home, and the reason I decided to run was because there were two candidates who stood down and I was there emailing them, offering my help. Both candidates stood down, and I didn’t want to end up either with a candidate who’s been airlifted from elsewhere, or somebody who wasn’t going to put up a fight. So that’s why I stepped forward.

Why Reform UK?

I’ve never really been politically involved, apart from when I was 14 and 15 and I ran for school rep and I won both times but that was a very long time ago. I was in the left wing bubble for most of my adult life. I worked in the inner city in Bristol: my colleagues, my ex-students. I thought that was the consensus of the whole of Britain. So one thing that will woke me up out of my left wing bubble was the Brexit result. I voted to remain at the time because I thought, being a war baby of sorts, I thought that a united Europe was better than a Europe that was bombing itself. But I didn’t realise at the time because I wasn’t politically involved about what a bureaucracy the EU had become, and what had left-leaning bureaucracy it had become, and also the fact that people were making laws and not being held accountable for the laws they were making and implementing across Europe. So, the typical Brexiteers are portrayed as being old and pink and angry, all these things. The only Brexiteer I knew was somebody very close to me who was neither pink, old, nor angry, and that was my eldest son. So, that was a little wake-up call. Whatever the media were telling me, I had a living example in my own home that that’s not the case. So that was a bit of a wake-up call when I accepted his view, and he accepted mine. And then when Brexit was done, I accepted that that was what the nation wanted, and I stopped going on about that, so that was one little wake-up call. Then another wake-up call was the 2019 election, where according to my Facebook feed, Corbin was in with a chance and then Corbin got the shooing of the century. So lockdown might have worked to the benefit of some situations and some agendas, but for me it meant that I dug up the whole of my front garden and planted loads of vegetables and listened to a heck of a lot of YouTube. So during that time I educated myself about the alternative point of view, which is a right of centre point of view and the only party that expresses that right of centre point of view is Reform. Anything further right than Reform does have overtones of racism and so forth. Reform does not, regardless of what people say. It’s just not what I’ve experienced on the on the ground. Reform is a grassroots movement by people. We’ve got posh people, we’ve got working class people, we’ve got self-employed people, entrepreneurs. We’ve got all sorts of people. We’ve all been successful to a greater or lesser extent and we all really represent the nation in the sense that we have, you know, we are from all corners of life and we’ve all had experience of the real world, unlike career politicians who just live in their little Westminster bubble. They study their degrees that are relevant to becoming a full-time politician and never really have to fend for themselves, like the rest of us. Why Reform? Because Reform stands for the interests of Britain. I can’t control who lives next door to me. I can’t control my own neighbourhood. There are rules and regulations being brought about that I feel helpless towards.

Which rules?

For instance, all this car-hating business, this splitting of people between cyclists and motorists. I love cycling and, I’m not a motorist. I’m a human being, but I know that without my car I would have been less productive financially. I would have been less able to cope. I wouldn’t have been able to do my job in Bristol, commuting from Bath every day. It wasn’t on the main bus or train routes. I wouldn’t have been able to pick up my children to and from school and out of school, tend to my elderly mother and do the weekly shopping. So the car has been essential to me, but I’m not a motorist. I am a human being who uses a car. It’s a tool. It’s not a way of life for me. It’s a tool. It’s a way of getting from A to B. So these rules that are being rolled out, nobody woke up this morning and said, “I really wish I had a cycle lane, I wish my pavements were wider”. But there are people waking up crying in pain wishing they could have their hip replaced or wishing they could see a dentist at short notice. I don’t know if you’ve ever had sharp toothache, but it’s not something you can ignore for more than a couple of seconds. So there’s all this money being spent, all streets have been pedestrianised already, that’s what a pavement is. There are rules pedestrians on the pavement, wheels in the roads. If people are too scared to go out on their bicycles in one of the safest places in the universe. Britain has a very low record of deaths and injuries on the roads. The way that motorists are portrayed is if they’re drunk or off their heads. I mean, by all means, I do understand, that there is an issue and I’m sure that there are solutions, none of which are included in these measures.

The Conservatives have very much rolled back on their net zero commitments and Labour on their environmental spending plan, and many students, particularly in this area, are a bit more pessimistic about the government’s ability to seriously counter the climate crisis that we’re facing. What would you say your party’s main policies proposals are?

The Reform proposals are to scrap all net zero policies because net zero is nothing to do with the climate, it’s a taxation programme. It’s about taking money from here and dishing it out wherever the people who have collected the money want to dish it out. That’s not going to change the climate. We’re a tiny country in a very big world, we’re already green. British people have always been interested in the environment. I don’t know of a nation who’s any more interested in the environment, but to take money from a taxpayer to then give it as a gift to another person to buy a heat pump? That’s not the way it’s done. They keep interfering. The government is interfering with the market as it were, it always has. When there’s a new invention, rich people will buy it first because when it’s new, it’s expensive. It’s still experimental. For instance, I don’t have an electric car because I can’t afford it. It’s as simple as that. So I’ve got the cheapest-to-run petrol vehicle that I can and I use it sparingly. When I used to live in the centre of Bath, I used to use my car once a week. I used to walk everywhere. 

Documents referring to the net zero strategy in the UK, spanning across multiple industries, not just transport: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/net-zero-strategy

“On 15 May 2023 the UK produced its trillionth kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity generated from renewable sources – enough to power UK homes for 12 years based on average consumption. While it took 50 years to reach this milestone, based on current projections it will take just over five years to reach the next trillionth kWh.”

The National Grid recorded that “2020 marked the first year that electricity came predominantly from renewable energy, with 43% of our power coming from a mix of wind, solar, bioenergy and hydroelectric sources.”

What would you do then? If you’re saying that this is a way to tax people and to give it to another group of people, what would you do to mitigate climate change?

If money collected from vehicle use was earmarked to bring down the cost of buses, I would believe them. But I don’t think it is because buses are private so that’s not happening. I got stuck behind the recycling truck the other day in Bath, that was there in the middle of the day. In Greece the bin men are out at 5am and by the time rush hour hits, they are gone. What’s happening in Bath is they’re taking away roads, which means they’re funnelling more traffic into fewer roads, which makes the congestion worse and they’re adding things that they could move out of the way. Having roads that work quickly and slickly is good for the environment. The other thing that Bath isn’t doing is creating affordable housing. Most of the people who work in Bath come in from the surrounding villages: Peasedown, Radstock, Midsomer, Norton, they come from all over. I remember once I had a job in Midsomer Norton doing some supply teaching and I would leave and the road was mine, and all those poor other people were nose to tail right back to Peasedown St John with miles of traffic. I don’t accept that buying a house gives you the right to decide who parks outside it. The roads are public. They’ve been paid by everyone through their taxes. I think that’s undemocratic and there’s absolutely nothing to do with anybody who parks outside your house. We can’t have left-leaning beliefs that say we should open the borders as long as you don’t drive past my house or park outside it.

We’ve had more parking permits this year within Oldfield, and many people have felt priced out of bringing a car to Bath, especially students. Does that mean that you would make parking permits more affordable, or get rid of them?

I think it’s a matter of allocation. Upper Oldfield Park is a road that used to have a surgery – that’s gone. It used to have a dental surgery – I’m not sure if that’s still there, but the houses along Upper Oldfield Park and I suggest you go past that place. The houses along there are gigantic semi-detached dwellings, really big, with five or six off-road parking spaces. Yet they have parking permit only outside which are always empty. Meanwhile, there’s Hayesfield down the road, and when I did some supply for Hayesfield, there was nowhere to park the car. It was very stressful. I used to have to pay for fresh air because I lived in the centre for quite a few years. I don’t think that’s worth paying anything if I can have a space allocated outside my house, then that’s worth paying money for. That would be mine as long as I have paid for the privilege, then that would be mine. If I want to sublet it or rent it out to a friend of mine, or if I’m away at work, I could then sublet it to somebody who comes into Bath to work. That would be worth having. Anything left over should be allocated to people who work in Bath. I can only imagine that it would help things. So I went round canvassing along Moorland Road. So I was talking and there was one estate agent, I believe. This young lady said, I live around the corner, but my colleague has been suffering because he I believe he’s got three kids and he’s got a walk now a very long way. So, he’s contemplating changing jobs and he lives in Bath. Net zero is just going to cripple the economy. Trust me. Everybody who’s not stuck in a left-wing bubble can see this. Nobody’s against the environment. We all want to help the environment because we all breathe the same air. It’s just how you get there. We need new ideas, not to keep chewing over the same car-hating kind of approach to saving the environment. Nobody’s talking. All the champagne socialists, they’re happy to have wine shipped in from Australia, from Argentina, from South Africa. I don’t do that. I don’t buy any food from the Southern hemisphere. I just think that’s too far for an avocado to travel. I buy locally as much as I can. I wash it with soap. If we’re going to have a revolution regarding the environment, it’s got to be by our own free will. So, preach by all means. But convince me, and I shall follow you.

But what would you do? If you would scrap net zero, what would you put in place?

If we’re going to tax, let’s tax food. You know that people are saying that because of Brexit, we’ve magically stopped trading with Europe. That’s nonsense. Most of the food I buy is European. So my cucumbers are Spanish and so forth. Again, that’s travelling quite a way, but it’s a heck of a lot better than travelling from a different hemisphere, so local is better. All my meat is all local. It’s all British. I don’t buy meat unless it’s British because it’s British jobs. I trust British farmers. There are some people on the left still lamenting Brexit. But in Europe, farmers are setting fire to the EU flag because of these rules that the EU are trying to force upon them to make them basically go out of business. I don’t trust other farmers from other parts of the world to raise their animals the way a British farmer would. Maybe that’s the case for prejudice right there, but I don’t. I wouldn’t buy meat from a country that isn’t as regulated as Britain.

The UK Global Tariff currently in place applies to all goods imported to the UK, unless there are exemptions or there is a trade agreement.

Issues faced in the UK if food charges increase: https://www.politico.eu/article/uk-details-new-charges-for-post-brexit-food-and-plant-imports/

Current inflation and price indices for food and drink

You say you support that Britain is regulated? That implies rules, but you just said that there are rules in the EU you don’t support?

The EU are trying to implement, trying to force them [farmers] to rewild. They’re trying to force them to use certain fertilisers. I’m not sure because there’s variations, but all I know is there were tractors out [assuming concerning the protests]. That’s something apparently that wasn’t really covered by mainstream media. Were you aware of it?

I’m aware of the subsidy cuts by governments, within Germany especially.

The fact is that there were farmers out in strength protesting. French farmers were setting fire to flags. So, something’s wrong. When somebody is an expert at something and they feel so strongly about it, they take to the streets. I think society would be best advised to listen to these people, not ignore them or call them names. This name calling thing is just getting really, really tedious. When I came to Britain, I was the ethnic minority. I’m still who I am, but everybody else has swung completely to the left and I’m suddenly a far right. What am I? I don’t know what I’ve become.

Read about the use of pesticides within the EU, plans to reduce them and concessions made to farmers here

You wrote on your manifesto page that you feel you’re “one of many who have become squeezed out of Bath for a number of reasons”. Can you clarify the reasons why you feel you became squeezed out?

It’s overpopulation. It’s happening all over Britain. It’s not just Bath. Bath is more pronounced because Bath looks pretty. But I’ve been around and in Bath long enough to tell you there was a time that people didn’t want these buildings. But now, the fact is because of the universities, because it looks pretty, because it’s listed, people have come from far and wide. There’s hardly anybody in Bath who’s actually born and bred. The people who have moved here from London and from other places, they [those from London] mock them [Bath locals] because they often aren’t as well-educated as these new arrivals. It’s obvious what’s going on. The Bath Council are trying to squeeze every last penny from the good name that Bath has.

What would you do?

I would stop subdividing houses that are perfectly good family homes. 3-bedroom houses that must get licences to become four and five- bedroom HMO – that’s overdevelopment. That’s overpopulation. They’ve got to draw the line somewhere. Now Bath is housing students that go to Bristol University. And what about the universities? What’s the ultimate plan here? How many students exactly? Where is this growth going to lead to? I know people who used to live in Oldfield Park. I bumped into a lady I knew. [I said] How are you? I don’t see you very often, she says, “Well, we sold up. I couldn’t take it anymore. We’ve moved to Chippenham; we’ve got a semi-detached [house] with the garage and off-road parking. She said, [that while in Oldfield] “I had the kids in bed, and 3 o’clock in the morning, students naked at 3am in the back garden.” Off their faces jumping in their [the family’s] paddling pool at 3am. This woman was trying to bring her kids up. You know, get them ready for school every morning. So, she left.

Do you not agree that these people help boost and strengthen the economy within Bath, particularly when it comes to creating jobs?

Absolutely. I’m just saying how many people are you going to squeeze into a tiny city that’s in a valley which means that the air doesn’t clear the pollution and then complain about the air quality. So, they are lying. When the Council say they are worried about air quality and then they give every licence they’ve given for a new development for another high-rise. These were all single storey things on the Lower Bristol Rd, and now they’re five to six storey high-rises. Where are the shops? Where’s the infrastructure? And meanwhile, most people in Wiltshire still use the RUH [Royal United Hospital in Bath]. One of my colleagues, the candidate for Melksham and Devizes, Malcolm Cupis – I’m supporting him in this petition. In Melksham there was a big factory, a rubber factory in the Avon [Avon Tyres]. All people that have been here a while will remember the Avon. Many people were employed by them, but it’s shut down. So, it’s a big empty patch of land, which is brown land, so perfect for development, and he’s got a petition going to build another hospital. So, the people of Wiltshire can attend that and they don’t have to face Bath traffic. They don’t have to face the Clean Air Zone. You know you’re going there for cancer treatment, and you’re going to pay £9 to drive through the Clean Air Zone and then get punished by the RUH for your parking. And how can they still have one hospital, when the population of Bath itself, I don’t know, has it doubled? It feels like it has. Traffic is nose-to-tail everywhere. Wherever one thing goes, a multi-storey appears. It’s overdevelopment. They can’t expect clean air, and they can’t expect everybody to be on foot when they don’t provide affordable accommodation. If people don’t have a reason to have the car, they won’t use it. Like I said, when I lived in the centre, I would use the car once a week for a big shop or something. The rest of the time I’d go into town and do my business on foot.

FYI: “Cars and motorbikes are not charged in Bath’s CAZ, regardless of the emissions they produce. However, commercial vehicles such as taxis and private hire vehicles will have to pay.”

Regarding student housing, they’ve been described as mould-infested, poorly insulated. Even our SU described housing as ‘deplorable’. What can we do to ensure landlords in the country and in Bath provide adequate living conditions for their tenants?

I didn’t know that. I know there is a law about mould, it’s named after a young lad, a baby really. He was four or five who died from mould [Awaab’s law]. Mould is definitely behaviour related. So, there is that. However, it can be helped, and that’s the other thing. It seems that landlords don’t seem to know how to control mould, and tenants don’t seem to. I think we do need to educate everyone around mould. After all those science lessons, apparently nobody gets to learn about mould properly. I’m saying this not as a Reform candidate but as an ex-landlady. Obviously, these landlords need to be held to account because that is not what, as [Richard] Tice would call it – that’s just not cricket. It’s not right to be taking money off students who are going to be paying that debt for a long time. The agents who take money from students to find them accommodation, who seem to be a middle agency of no particular purpose. They need to be held to account.

How would you impose that?

Publicity would be one thing. I am now averse by nature to say there should be rules, legislation. Legislation for what? For what is common sense. So, I would propose that the students withhold their rent, I guess. I’m sure there are laws against that as well, but unless you’re awkward in this life, and unless you make your voice heard, then people will trample you, I’m afraid to say. At the end of the day, these landlords are individuals or companies or whatever, but they’re there to make money. So, the only thing they understand is that you stop paying and you say deal with this, and then we will look at that rent again.

Within your party, part of the manifesto supports scrapping diversity, equality and inclusion laws that come under the 2010 Equality Act. Do you think this is a good idea and why? 

Absolutely because humanity is humanity. This thing that where people can use their ethnicity for preferential treatment. Hiring different ethnicities and different religions will not give you diversity. Diversity is something else. Diversity is about diversity of ideas, diversity of points of view. This idea has become a very divisive. It has turned people against people. For instance, I was invited to that BBC thing [debate?]. Do you know what somebody told me? It’s because you’re a woman. The BBC has quotas, so they’re not interested in me or my opinions. They don’t even know who I am because I’m nobody in the sense that I don’t have a political past. That to me is an insult.

Would you not say that diversity quotas are there for offsetting the disadvantages that minorities have faced from systemic racism or sexism within the country? They start from further behind, and they’re not actually on equal because people within the majority group will always be that much in front, so it’s trying to offset that discrepancy. That’s why they are there and that’s why the government implemented them.

More information here

I understand what the theory is, but the data is in, and that theory does not– 

What data?

For instance, the lowest achieving ethnic group in the UK is poor white boys. I heard that in Bristol. We had somebody come in from the Bristol City Council. Every year we’d have inset days as teachers. I used to teach 11-to 16-year-olds, by the way. So, we’d have all these inset meetings like what are we going to do with the perennial problem or what are we going to do with the black boys because they tended to be excluded more and permanently excluded out of education and because their achievement was low. I can’t remember how many years I was teaching for, and this guy came, and they had statistics where income was included and suddenly when the income was included, the lowest achieving group was poor white boys.

Fact check here

So, say that you remove these safeguards (diversity, equality and inclusion laws) this was going to be scrapped, how would you help to prevent or at least reduce sexism, racism or xenophobia within institutions to ensure that people do have a level playing field when that wasn’t the case before? What would you propose to put in place? Would you just have nothing? 

There are laws about that. If there’s evidence you just do that, you pursue the law. If somebody behaved towards me or somebody I know in a racist way, there are laws and I would pursue that. To presume there’s racism and to presume there’s sexism, I think is the wrong way to go about things. That’s presuming guilt, before we’ve even started and I feel that in the UK, a country that has produced so many female prime ministers and of note. I’m not talking about Liz Truss, obviously, but we’ve produced such great women. We still have people in Labour trying to accuse the Conservative government of being racist, incredibly, when our eyes can tell us very much that that’s not the case. So all these barriers have been broken down. Nobody’s being stopped from achieving in the UK. The diversity quotas only served to cast a shadow on people’s achievements. 

To date, there have been three female UK prime ministers and 54 male prime ministers. 

Keywords: Windrush scandal 2010s, Powellism

How would you circumnavigate then the glass ceiling or even when women in the UK receive, on average 86 pence for every pound that a man receives when comparing median hourly pay? And those were statistics from an independent report by Curo on the gender pay gap

For further figures, see the 2024 paper by the Office for National Statistics published by the UK Parliament here

This is how Birmingham City Council went bankrupt. You know what happened there? The dinner ladies and classroom assistants. They mounted some lawsuit against Birmingham City Council because they weren’t getting the same, I don’t know, benefits of some description that the binmen were getting. They got that awarded retrospectively. The consequence of that is Birmingham City Council has gone bankrupt.

This relates to equal pay liability, the details of which can be found here: “A pay-out of £1.1bn to settle claims in 2012 followed a court ruling that found hundreds of mostly female employees, working in roles such as teaching assistants, cleaners and catering staff, missed out on bonuses given to staff in traditionally male-dominated roles such as refuse collectors and street cleaners.”

So are you saying that you’d leave it up to the businesses themselves to input procedures instead of having a blanket policy?

What I’m saying is whatever the law is doing is going about it the wrong way. These women signed their contracts when they did. And if they wanted those benefits that binmen had, they should have been working the bins.

What about women who do the same job as a man but don’t get paid the same amount?

Are the statistics on that clear? Because my understanding was they weren’t.

Yes, there are statistics on it. 

And you can read it here.

On exactly the same job, the same level of danger, exposure to the elements, heights? Scary stuff that women don’t generally like to do, though.

What would you do then if you want to scrap those laws? So they would just vanish?

No, it doesn’t vanish. So in the Scandinavian countries, like Sweden, in those countries, women specifically where they have the choice, they’ve actually naturally gravitated to doing what I would call traditional female jobs. So I think what we’re doing at the moment is forcing people to choose a path to work in just because there’s incentive. So basically, if a woman goes down the path of a job that doesn’t normally attract women, she’s most probably guaranteed a faster climb in that particular tree.

Do you think that’s more democratic? By removing these safeguards?

I think as a society we need to be looking at the best person for the job. I nearly said the best man for the job and then thought twice about it. It’s just an expression, but we need to be looking. So for instance, Reform does have more men than women as candidates, and I can tell you now, I’m pretty sure I know – I don’t know for a fact – but my guess is that standing for reform, you need to be braver than your average citizen. It’s not trendy, it’s not cool, it’s not virtue-signalling, so me standing for Reform is saying I know I’m going to get a lot of stick for it, but here I am, I’m doing it. So I’m proving that I’m better than most by doing something that’s against the grain. Yeah, most women seem to just want to be with the herd and be popular and not get too much stick. I’ve never been like that. I’ve always been one to just stick to my guns, metaphorically – no actual literal guns involved.

On the section on reclaiming Britain in the manifesto, Christian values are quite highly praised, Christian values are promoted. Why are they so highly promoted within the manifesto when, according to the 2021 census, less than half UK citizens identify as Christian?

Statistics here

How many wives would you like your husband to have?

That’s within criminal law. That’s not always within all branches of Christianity. 

It [Christianity] is very much a part of our culture. It is very much part of our culture and it goes back to Christianity. Not all religions accept– 

But there is a significant number of our population that are atheist.

That doesn’t change the fundamentals. You can say the leaf at the top of the tree is very different to the trunk at the bottom, but without that trunk at the bottom, the leaf does not stand. So the fact that we value individual life as much as we do is down to Christianity. Apparently, the Methodist Church was the one that gave birth to the workers’ unions before Labour, before communism, before Karl Marx, the Methodist movement, so it gives me goosebumps talking about it. The Red Cross, now they’ve got a Muslim version, but the Red Cross was a Christian [group]. It’s a biblical belief that you go where the need is greater. I’m a Catholic and I get emails from CAFOD which is Catholic Aid For Overseas Development and they regularly send me emails and they’re trying to save and help the farmers in Bangladesh. They don’t say no, sorry, you’re a Muslim, you’re on your own. They go where the need is greatest. That is very much a Christian principle. One man, one woman in marriage, that is very much a Christian thing. It’s not the case in other cultures. Other cultures discriminate in terms of inheritance. We don’t do that in Britain.

In Britain, “fewer than 90 peerages can be inherited by a female heir thereby limiting the number of women eligible to stand and be elected to the House of Lords as hereditary peers.” An example of inheritance inequality in the UK.

More here

Which other cultures?

In Greece you can’t write your children out of your will completely.

That’s just one culture.

In Islam, for instance, the first-born boy gets the largest share of the inheritance. That’s another thing that is very much against the grain for British culture. So our laws, apart from more recent additions, have all been based on Christian ideas of what’s right and wrong.

Within the initial manifesto, though, it promotes the idea that minority interests should not be promoted over majority interests. That’s made very clear within the introduction, so surely by catering to Christians you’re catering to minority groups because Christians are a minority within the country. 

I don’t think that’s what– I think you’re interpreting the manifesto from your own point of view. The people come here of their own free will. Nobody’s forcing them. So as far as I’m concerned, we’ve got to have some commonalities, and if we don’t, if there’s no integration and there’s no commonality, then the country is gone. It’s already coming apart at the seams as we say, it’s already falling apart, so we’ve got to have some commonality. One man, one woman to me is basic when it comes to marriage. No, I’m sorry. I’m not excluding same-sex marriages. I’m just talking about polygamy here. So no to polygamy, as far as I’m concerned, that is really basic. To me, it wouldn’t even be Britain if that was diluted in any way, shape or form. So the fact that we’re all equal in front of the law. like I said, with the first born son inheriting more. No. We’re all equal in front of the law. That has to remain. Other general things in British culture. For instance, the ability to queue in an orderly fashion. I’ll tell you why that it’s just such an important thing. I could go on about this one for hours, mainly because my other compatriots are just incapable of doing so. But here in Britain, the way you get on with other people that you don’t know, you don’t share blood or kinship or anything like that, so they’re not your tribe. They’re just strangers. How do you achieve a level of cooperation that doesn’t disintegrate in civil war or scrapping in the streets. Queuing in an orderly fashion is that. It’s perfect, and what’s happening in Britain today? I was queuing up at the supermarket the other day and I had about a bag full and there was a lady behind me that just had to roll the bin liner. So you know, being so very polite as I am, I said, would you like to go first? And off she went. And then I was ruminating on this, and I thought, well, what’s happening in Britain? Me at the front of the queue. You number five [in the queue] jump the queue. You, number six. Meanwhile, number two, three and four are sat in the queue going, dude, I’ve been in the queue for like, 10 years now. When’s it going to be my [turn] and I keep taking people from the back. Queuing in an orderly fashion is fairness is justice. And it’s a way that you can cooperate with people you do not share anything else in common [with] so that we need to stick to. Our love of animals, we need to stick to. That is a very British thing, so being brought up in Athens, I can assure you it’s a very British thing. They used to throw things in our garden, things, creatures because they knew we wouldn’t eat them. We would take care of them and give them names and pet them so our love of humanity, our love of animals, our love of nature. That’s something that’s upset me. Recently I have seen how the British have stopped gardening. They seem to know nothing about gardening and they just put gravel down on everything because mowing the lawn apparently is such a hardship these days. But there’s things we need to stick to, and whoever comes here is welcome, but they need to understand, that this is the common culture. This is the law. You’re welcome as long as…I don’t think that’s asking too much.

Are you saying that Christian culture should come first? [That it] should be the highest form [of culture] that we all abide by?

That’s not going to happen, unless people will do that of their own free will. Religion is a matter of conscience. And that’s it. Either people believe it or they don’t. In a highly secularised society, as Britain has become now, I personally feel a bit aggrieved that other religions seem to be tolerated, to the point of stupidity, even though– 

What do you mean? How?

Like what I’ve just said to you. The first-born son gets the largest share of the inheritance. That goes against everything British and everything egalitarian, but we are humouring this behaviour. It’s like no, and the way women are treated in certain cultures, we’re humouring that behaviour in Britain. What people do in the privacy of their own home and how they want to worship their God? Absolutely. That’s what I used to do. I was an RE [religious education] teacher, by the way. I dedicated the first part of my life to studying other people’s faith. And I’m all for it. But as Jesus said when they showed him the coin and said, shall I pay my taxes? And he said, whose head is on that? And they said Caesar’s. Well, give to Caesar what belongs to him. So in terms of our society, we need to give to Caesar what belongs to him. In terms of our society, we need to be cohesive. We need to get rid of things that divide us. There are plenty of things dividing us and it’s come to the point where you can’t talk about anything, and from one little thing that you’re going to say or ‘I believe that’, the other person can extrapolate everything else that you might or might not believe in. Do you see what I’m saying? If you say I’m vegan and then straight away the other person is like I see, so he’s left-leaning, he’s pro recycling.. so you just kind of lump people together and that’s just prejudice that is. We need to get away from party politics and we need to look at what problems we have as a society and find the best solution.

Is that not enforcing rules on people’s way of life and their freedom of speech? Almost to [prevent them from expressing] things if they have a different opinion?

No, Reform is all for expressing difference of opinion. In what way do you think I’m trying to?

If you start putting bans on things, it [the manifesto] says bans on political bias, bans on cancel culture–

No bans.

Reform supports freedom of speech, but on the other hand, wants to ban cancel culture or reformulate woke ideology?

What is cancel culture exactly? Because some people say it doesn’t exist. You know it gets a bit complicated.

Well, what does the party define it as, because they’ve put it in their manifesto?

People on the right, that bunch, of which I now belong to, believe that cancel culture is where you’re penalised to the point of not being able to feed your family and losing your ability to make a living. That’s what they’re referring to when they’re talking about cancel culture.

But how many people do actually experience this?

That [man] experienced that pretty badly, didn’t he? Russell Brand. He’s now even ended up getting baptised as a Christian in order to get back on the gravy train. I’m not a huge fan. I must say.

Current controversy over Russell Brand can be found here and here

A lot of the time cancel culture is withdrawing public support from a figure, and especially if they stand accused of wrongdoing. The #MeToo movement – people are held accountable by the public, allowing their voices to be heard, that’s a legitimate form of freedom of speech. It’s not a hate crime to express your opinion.

A lot of the organisations that stop people from making a living and silencing them publicly, a lot of these organisations seem to be funded by taxpayers. So I would like to see Reform pay that a lot more attention. Would you like to guess how many registered charities there are in the UK? 168,000. Now I don’t know how many of those get government funding. But that’s a racket. There is something up there. I can’t think of that many good causes. Can you? I can’t as a prospective MP. Now I’m getting emails from all sorts: will you pledge your support for better cat liver health or something obscure like that. Organisations that get taxpayer money should be representing all the taxpayers since their funding comes from all of us, so I think that needs to be looked at. I don’t think I’m being far right by suggesting that when you’re getting paid from the taxpayer, like the BBC, who are so left-leaning they’d fall over if it wasn’t for the fact that they’re being propped up by taxpayer money. I cancel people all day long. Like I say I don’t buy anything. I used to not buy things from South Africa because of apartheid and then apartheid came to an end.

How would you police this ban then? How would you ban cancel culture when it’s not a well-defined term? How would your party ensure that that doesn’t infringe on freedom of speech when your party’s mandate or part of it is to protect freedom of speech, but you’re potentially banning legitimate opinion?

When cancel culture comes along. It’s making people lose their ability to make a living and it’s more of a blanket thing. It is censorship. Where it is supported by taxpayer money, this censorship – I think that’s where we need to get the magnifying glass out.

Are you saying that certain charities support [this kind of] cancel culture?

I am aware of one organisation, that is funded by the government, I believe that’s ‘HOPE not hate’. I believe that’s funded by the government and they do occasionally throw somebody from the left to the…

‘HOPE not hate’ is an advocacy group campaigning against racism and fascism within the UK.

Yeah, and where do they get their money from? You’ve always got to follow the money. You’ve always got to follow the money. 

Here is the funding for this charity in particular.

They receive no income from government contracts and last received a grant from the government in 2020. More information here.

How would you say that they’ve cancelled somebody? Where’s the evidence that they’ve cancelled somebody? They might have received funding from the government, but how does that change– 

I don’t follow them, to be honest. The fact is that it’s not evenly done. A lot of the time, they’re just imagining things that potentially, I don’t know, I don’t know much about them. All I know is that they are, I believe they are government-funded. So it’s a very specific point of view, to be funded by a government. It’s taxpayers money. It’s your money, my money. 

So you saying what you don’t agree with in cancel culture is when the government supports groups that go against certain other groups of people?

I think the government needs to be there for all its people since all its people are paying for it. Whatever I vote for, the government’s going to be the government. Sure, whether I voted for that government or not, I expect them to be acting on my behalf and for my interest, or our communal interests, whether I voted for them or not, they don’t know who was voted for.

How does this relate to banning cancel culture though?

I’m saying potentially remove the funding from organisations that are government, any other organisation, if you want to give your money to ‘HOPE not hate’, go for it. That’s democracy. That is putting your money where your mouth is. That’s different. But when you’re taxing me, working hard to make a couple of bob and then you tax me and then you go and give it to people I don’t even approve of, I just think that’s not fair.

So we’ve got quite a large number of students within Bath and two universities, part of Reform’s plan for reforming education is reducing certain university degrees to two year courses. Have you got any comments about that?

I know the standards have dropped. It used to be that about 10% of the population used to go to university, and then it started expanding, and it’s obvious why they’re expanding. First of all, they’re making sure that people are not in the workplace. So they made education up to 18 compulsory even though they didn’t have a plan as to what these kids were going to do between 16 and 18. And I was there when that happened and everybody started studying photography. How many photographers does this country need? So they were just wasting young people’s lives, who could have been learning to become carpenters and electricians and plumbers? These invaluable trades. I don’t want to trash what you’re going to do, but trust me, you’re going use a plumber and you’re going to use an electrician very, very soon in your life. You’re going to need these people, and they’re invaluable, and they need to be highly trained. That’s not something you can pick up in 2 minutes, how to plumb and how to wire up a house. So they did that. Now they’ve extended the universities, which means young people are out of the work market for another three years and then maybe another year.  But, then somehow they’ve got a big hole to fill haven’t they, in terms of what you could have paid in tax if you’d been working? So that’s why they’re lending you to do your university degree, because then you’re going to retrospectively pay your tax as interest rate on your loan, and you’re going to be forty before you pay off this loan, if you’re lucky and you find a job that’s high paid enough to do that. Then you’re going to have to find your deposit to buy your first house. Well, let me tell you now that you’re going to have a huge amount of difficulty. I can see it that you want what’s best for people that you want everyone to have the same chance as you, whether the black, brown or whatever they are. And so do I, and you’ve got to believe that. So we’re all sat on this particular branch called the UK., Britain. I want everybody in Britain to do well. I don’t want anybody in Britain cutting off the branch that’s called Britain, and I wish those people who are hacking away at this branch would stop it. The system we have now is not working for you, for all your generation, for all British kids, regardless of your generation. The first two lodgers I ever had when I moved into the centre of Bath were music graduates. One was working in Boots and one was working in Marks and Spencers. One was bemoaning his fate that he didn’t want to become a music teacher because he did his degree with the hope of getting into the music industry. Being a musician is a practical thing. I am not sure that having a degree [in it] and the other thing is, could degrees be done alongside an actual apprenticeship? An actual practical thing? You can have a degree in all sorts, and then you still don’t actually know how to do a job, so you could spend three or four years getting all this theoretical stuff. I did all these things as I did my religious studies and history degree. I accumulated all that theory. Then I did my PGCE to become a secondary teacher. I’ll tell you what they didn’t tell us anything about special needs. They did mention it, but I learned about dyslexia when my second son was diagnosed with it. So in the end, we were let into the classroom, having had no real preparation for what it really is like to deal with 30 very different people every time the bell rings. When I was teaching, we had people who’d have degrees and then they would learn to be teachers on the job. It was a graduate training scheme, and there were some excellent teachers that came out of that. The young lady who took over my job when I resigned was one of those. She had an anthropology degree, but she was great in the classroom. Diligent, worked hard. It’s a practical job. I could talk to you all day about cycling and I could show you a video about cycling. There we go. Here’s a degree. You know how to cycle. Do you know how to cycle? No, you’ve got to get in that saddle and have a go. That’s how you learn to cycle. Watching videos and reading about the cycle is not going to help you. Maybe it might help you a bit, but the bottom line is that’s what we need. It’s a competitive world out there. I’ll tell you what goes on in Greece, kids go to school in the day, come home, have a bit of food, do their homework, then change and then go to their evening school to do extra English, to do extra Maths to do this. They’re the most hard-working part of the population, same with Japan, same with the loads of countries in the Far East. That’s what you’re up against and we are teaching our kids to sit around and do degrees that often, not always, thankfully, often do not result in jobs. We need to be more tuned into what are the jobs. Degrees as a theory -that’s lovely if you’re filthy rich and you just have time to study things out of curiosity. But if what you’re aiming at is a job, I think we really need to look at that again and just be a bit more– I can’t make you a blanket statement and say that that degree needs to be shortened down to so many months or years but it certainly does need a good looking at.

The Reform UK party stated that we should leave the European Convention on Human Rights. Can you tell me a bit about why that is and why the British people can’t be sure they won’t lose their own human rights and the ability to challenge wrongdoing in the UK?

We were one of the countries that gave birth to the ECHR– 

Why would we leave it?

Things have moved on. When I was studying religion, my lecturer said each religion is a self-contained bubble, and I thought that there was a lot of wisdom in that. I feel very much that each culture, each country is a self-contained bubble. We are at a certain standard in our approach where we think nobody should be left behind, we can’t have people starving in the street. That’s  inhumane.

How does this tie into the European Convention on Human Rights?

This is what’s stopping us from stopping the dinghies from coming over. Now I know people have ideas about who’s on the dinghies. The one thing we know for certain is that the promised doctors and engineers are not on the dinghies. The people on the dinghies are being trafficked by criminals and they are here.

Do you have evidence to back that up?

What, that they’re criminals? What they’re doing is illegal.

That they’re being trafficked.

That’s what they claim. They claim they’re being trafficked. All I know is they’re paying a lot of money. They’ve said this so themselves, they’ve paid. And they all happen to lose their passports. Basically the ECHR is stopping us from protecting our borders. The people that are coming here, not just in dinghies, there are other methods as well, they’re coming and we don’t know who they are. We don’t know if they’ve got a criminal record. We don’t know what their intention is, and that is a security issue for all of us, and it’s been proved more than once, that they are a security issue. Not all of them. Obviously that would be a generalisation, but that needs to stop. People can come here. There are many viable legal routes, and there are ways of getting in. But allowing people when we don’t know who they are, where they’ve come from, that needs to end and Britain needs to be able to control its borders. This is what Brexit was about – controlling our own fate, we cannot be Britain and at the same time be beholden unto the laws of somebody else. As to British people losing their human rights, that’s ludicrous. If I know anything about British people, that’s not going to happen. But the way the laws stand at the moment, those laws were produced, they’re out of date. It’s as simple as that. They need looking at again.

Which specific law are you referring to?

I don’t know about those specific laws, but I know that that’s what’s stopping us. It’s the ECHR that’s stopping us from taking the actions necessary to be sovereign and to control our borders. It’s all very hazy, we need to clear up the law to say we can do this, or no, we can’t do that.

 Do you not agree that if we leave, we lose the ability to change and reform from the inside and guarantee the rights of people? It’s not a foreign court, it’s an international court that allows us to protect human rights and political freedoms by giving individuals the right to apply if they feel their rights have been violated by state party. What would you say to those, losing the ability to apply to the European Convention on Human Rights, the Court, if they feel their rights have been violated by the state?

No, we’re not part of that scene anymore. We had Brexit for that reason. We have no control about the European laws and because we don’t have any control and because the way these laws are growing – we don’t want that, we want our own laws. Now do I trust British people to come up with fair laws? I would like to think so. It’s not about human rights. It’s about us being able to protect our rights, British rights. It’s not about losing human rights. I can’t see why anybody in Britain should be able to go to a European Court and ask for help from them.

Information about how the ECHR functions for British citizens can be found here.

What about in the multi-party election debate when the SNP, the Greens and Labour highlighted the importance of boosting economy, where immigration fills the gaps within the labour market?

See BBC NEWS report here.

That’s nonsense. It’s such a lie. There are so many people who are not economically productive. How can they have the audacity to lie through their teeth like that when the evidence is there for anyone to see.

What evidence?

The evidence is there. The fact is that immigration is suppressing wages. I’m not going to give up my benefits, which, by the way, the benefits system no longer benefits either receiver or giver. It’s ridiculous to be on benefits for 5-10 years. Benefits are a safety net, not a career path. That’s just crazy. Unless you’re disabled, obviously nobody is going to going to try and drag disabled people into the workplace. We’re not talking about that. We’re talking about people who are, what they call long-term unemployed. To work is not an option, not when I’m paying for you to sit around all day doing nothing. That’s not an option.

Where do you get the figures from to support your claims?

The figures? I didn’t come prepared with figures. I didn’t realise we were going to get into the nitty gritty so much. You mean figures as to who’s unemployed?

Where did you get the idea from that these are lies?

Because wages are being depressed. When somebody comes here, either legally or illegally, and is willing to do a job for less than minimum wage… I was talking about it with one of my sons. I said “look care work in in care homes. If they were to pay 15 pounds, 16 pounds an hour” and he goes, “I’d do it for that”. So it’s a matter of paying the going rate. So a British person would do a job that’s unpleasant for the right amount of money. But instead what they’re doing now, and that was under Johnson, by the way, that an agency can start advertising for a job abroad, they’re not even under any obligation to advertise in the UK. That’s got to go. There’s apparently 9 million people in the UK that are not active, financially, economically active. I don’t know from that 9 million if there’s over one and a half million registered unemployed, that’s not a long term plan. The economy is just suffering from it and bringing more and more people from abroad to say that we just don’t have enough people to tend to be elderly. No. A lot of care homes are now owned by big foreign companies, so care homes are making a pretty penny. They’re making a lovely profit, but they’re making that profit at the expense of the British taxpayer because they pay their staff so little that staff often have to have top ups from the government. Apparently a lot of Tesco staff do the same. Their pay is so low that they often get help from the government with their income, because they can’t cope, so that’s not right. Tesco’s is a profit. How can the company that makes a profit, pay so little to its workers? We’ve got our wires crossed in the name of saving the universe, something that we’re not in a position to do. We’ve ended up just absolutely dumping on our own population, our working population. It’s very tough out there. I met a plasterer a few months back, that’s good money. His wife is a teacher and they’ve got 2 little kids. They’re renting a tiny little two-bedroom house, £1100 a month. That’s just rent. That’s before tax, before the bills, before anything. They can’t get on the housing ladder ever with that. That’s just not on the horizon for them. Now that’s wrong. That is absolutely wrong for them to not be housed in affordable housing. When council houses were initially built in Britain, they were not for the unemployed. They were for the working poor, for people who had factory jobs, so they had somewhere reasonable to pay rent, and that’s what they did. Now council houses are being rented out to people that don’t pay rent, so the council rents the house out but pays the rent as well, so it’s costing us twice. All these things need to be addressed. You can’t expect  those who are working their socks off to be holding up everybody else. Work must pay, and this is why Reform UK have a policy that you don’t start paying income tax until you’re [earning] 20,000. So most people will then fall out of the getting help from the government bracket.

Information on skill shortages and the effects of migration and immigration can be found at GOV.UK and the UK Parliament website. 

What would you say to encourage students to visit the polling station on the 4th of July? 

I think it should be compulsory. Voting. I think it should be compulsory, but especially if you want anything from the state, it should be the fee you pay for membership. You want to be a member of a country, you want to be a full member, you should pay your dues and the way you pay your dues is just give us your opinion.. I think it has to be because there’s too much of this apathy, especially with local elections. That’s how, for instance, in Bath, the Lib Dems are controlling the Council pretty much in its entirety. The Lib Dems themselves will pretend that that that mandate was given to them by the people, but they’re basing this on a 30% turnout. There’s no mandate there. I know that by failing to vote you inadvertently accept the result of the election. 

And what about the party (Reform UK) in which you are part of where supporters pay subscription fees but don’t have the voting power to influence policy?

Not yet. We’re very new. We’ve only just started.

So, are you hoping to do this in the future?

Absolutely, yes. I wouldn’t stick around if this was a permanent situation, put it that way.

Thanks for speaking to us. 

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