Rosie Sourbut is not only a candidate but also a third year English student at Somerville College. I ask her first what it’s like being both a student and a candidate.
She replies that “The response has been really good – because the Liberal Democrat and Conservative candidates are only in their thirties I feel quite comfortable. People have asked about my experience and I have admitted I am a student, but I have done a lot of campaigning in the past on issues such as violence against women and the climate crisis. I think people realise I have a lot to offer.
Labour talk a lot about the ‘green new deal’, yet they still want to re-industrialise, using green technologies that haven’t been perfected yet. I ask Rosie how she envisages a Labour Britain being re-industrialised successfully, whilst also keeping to the target of net-zero emissions by 2025?
“The manifesto is proposing the creation of new jobs within green technologies. We plan to create 400,000 new green, ‘clean’ jobs and climate apprenticeships across the country – these will be highly skilled jobs in creating green technologies.
So, whilst we are increasing employment, investing socially in infrastructure and improving quality of life, we’ll also be combatting climate change. I think this is the most positive aspect of our manifesto.
Regarding the proposed reduction in tuition fees, how is this viable under our current budget?
“The issue with student loans at the moment is that most people are very unlikely to ever pay them back… it is a massive debt burden on the government and it is not sustainable. Education should be for the benefit of everyone. It is an individualistic, Conservative view to say that if you are educated you will earn more and should therefore pay more for education. Labour look at it like this – if we have a more educated population, this is beneficial for everyone in society. Education should not further the class divide.
A big question around Labour is Brexit. Recently, Jeremy Corbyn made a statement about remaining neutral on the issue of Brexit – how do you feel about having a leader of the Labour party who isn’t really sure about Brexit, or how to move forward on this issue?
“I personally campaigned for Remain in 2016 and I have pledged that I will do the same at the next referendum. I think the Liberal Democrats’ offer of cancelling Brexit is unrealistic; they’ll never get a majority government to be able to do that, and it would ignore the fact that over half of voters opted to leave.
The Labour offer is to have as good a deal as possible with the EU, but a much softer Brexit than the one Boris is going for, which will reward the elite of society. We would then put that deal back to the people – they can then decide, when they see the final deal, whether or not this is what they wanted when they voted for Brexit. This is what should have been done in the first place.The Prime Minister has put forward an election because he needs support for his deal – a deal which has been the result of years of tedious negotiations. Do you believe that the EU has an incentive to renegotiate a new deal with Jeremy Corbyn, even though Corbyn has not made clear whose side he is on?
“Theresa May and Boris Johnson immediately took a lot off the table at the beginning of their negotiations… they went straight in and tried to negotiate a hard Brexit. A hard Brexit isn’t in our interests, and neither is it in the European Union’s. The EU have been very patient so far and I think they will re-negotiate, for their sake.
We know, if Labour got into power, we would have to renegotiate and look at a completely new deal. How do we move efficiently from here, and what might Jeremy Corbyn’s deal look like?
“The Conservatives have had three years to negotiate and they haven’t… they have done nothing but act irresponsibly. Brexit is distracting political energy from the most urgent issues, such as climate change, and people just want to get it over with. A Labour deal would protect the peace in Northern Ireland, protect worker’s rights and protect the environment. A Labour Brexit deal is not something to fear.
Do you feel confident in Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership?
“Yes – I am excited by the manifesto we have released and by the way we are gathering the best research to save the environment and improve quality of life across the country. It is a radical and hopeful manifesto, that is also fully-costed and fully achievable.
It rejects the notion that austerity is the only way, as was accepted under Ed Miliband. If you invest long-term in your country, you will see the development of a fairer society.
This is an exciting prospect, and its great to see that people are listening and appreciating that. The terms of the debate do not have to be dictated by the Conservatives.You’ve said that the manifesto is fully costed. Jeremy Corbyn has proposed a nationalised care service – how do you find this as a proposition? Is it financially viable?
“I’ve spoken to a lot of people who are very excited about this aspect of the manifesto. We are going to transform the care system, and create a Living Wage – people working in crucial caring jobs should have enough to live on.
We are going to make sure that, whether you’re wealthy in retirement or not, you are still going to receive the help and care that you need. There should be a support system to help all of us and allow us to live in dignity.
There’s a lot of concern about how quickly Labour are becoming what looks like a communist party. It’s currently quite a radical movement, proposing almost complete nationalisation – do you think there’s a danger in how far it’s gone?
“I don’t think it is a communist manifesto… if you look at countries like those in Scandanavia, they are already doing everything we want to do. We are not proposing a utopian communist vision, but rather a viable reality.
We are not going to let the elite of this country tell us we must continue to suffer… we live in one of the richest countries in the world, and we have the means to take care of everyone.
The Liberal Democratic and Conservative manifestos are not fully-costed and all of their proposed policies involve short-term injections… we propose long-term solutions, thinking about the infrastructure we need to tackle the climate crisis and ensure people are growing up healthy and fully-educated.”