DESPITE the party only finishing with the fifth highest number of votes in the 2015 General Election in Stroud, the Liberal Democrats’ new candidate for the constituency is confident of winning a seat in Parliament.
Former journalist Max Wilkinson said that there is no reason why people shouldn’t vote for the party and that their clear pro-European message is winning over people across the country.
The 33-year-old said that the Liberal Democrats were now the opposition to the Conservative Party in Gloucestershire after its relatively strong showing compared to Labour in the county council elections earlier this month.
“With the Liberal Democrats we have clear policies which is winning over voters,” he said. “I’ve spoken to people on the doorstep who have told me they will be voting for us for the first time ever because of our message.
“If the Liberal Democrats were in charge we would give people a say on the final Brexit deal that means that even if you voted to leave and you want to leave the European Union you will still be able to go ahead and vote for that.
“If you voted to remain on the other hand, you will still get the chance to say let’s look at it again and let’s remain in the European Union.
“We want to ensure that at the very least we still have membership of the single market.
“The General Election choice is clear.
“People can vote for Labour or the Conservatives and they will get slightly different shades of a hard Brexit, which will damage the economy, or they can vote for the Lib Dems who want to remain close to Europe.
“I’m a liberal and Stroud is a very liberal place so there’s no reason why people shouldn’t vote for the Lib Dems.”
Mr Wilkinson said that tackling the country’s “housing crisis” would be his number one priority should he be elected on June 8.
“We have a housing market which is punishing an entire generation, young people are struggling because rents are too high and we are not building enough affordable housing.
“It’s an issue which is really personal to me, rents and house prices are far too high and the government has failed to tackle the problem.
“Right-to-buy has drastically reduced our housing stock because the rate of replacement is not anywhere close to one-for-one.
“We would lift the borrowing cap for local authorities to enable them to build more and make sure that the housing crisis is resolved.
On the topic of the Javelin Park incinerator, Mr Wilkinson, who was born in Weston-super-Mare, said that whilst he was not necessarily against the technology there were better ways of tackling waste in the county.
“The incinerator proposal is not the right one for Gloucestershire,” he said. “I do not see the sense in building something that means we have to import waste from outside the county.
“I’m not against the technology but it’s the wrong solution for dealing with waste.
“A better option would be to encourage reuse and recycling - it will always be cheaper to recycle than burn waste.”
A journalist for five years in Weston-super-Mare and Cheltenham before moving into communications, Mr Wilkinson said that he was not expecting the two-horse race the Stroud constituency has provided in recent elections.
He added: “Having been out around Stroud speaking to voters and having received dozens of messages, people are very impressed with the Liberal Democrats and our community approach.
“I would not be standing if I was not confident. I am running for election because I intend to win.”
Next week we will feature interviews with the Green Party’s Sarah Lunnon and UKIP candidate Glen Gogerly.