Thursday, 8 June 2017

EXCLUSIVE Interview with John Mansook

John Mansook is chairman of the Brent Greens and a fitness trainer. Standing for the Green Party in the Hampstead and Kilburn seat, we caught up with the candidate to ask his views on some of the pressing matters for students and young people in this country.

What’s your pitch to the young people of Hampstead and Kilburn if you get elected?
If I was elected, I would encourage young people to get involved in politics and join political parties to shape them from the inside to better serve our young people and the nation as a whole. When I was a young person, I wasn't taught politics at school and I wasn't even that politically aware, and more so I wasn't aware of how the political system worked. I think young people have access to information about politics and politicians like never before, especially with social media. Therefore, you are in a better position to make a more informed decision not just based on policies but based on character traits such as morality and sincerity. I think that is just as important as voting for people who have good policies. Remember: governments change and therefore the people who govern change and if we want to manage that change for the better, young people need to be involved at every level, not just on the day when they have to put their X on the ballot paper.

According to recent reports, the Green’s policy to scrap all student debt currently held by graduates could cost as much as £76.3bn. How does your party propose to pay for this?
The Green Party policy is to write off all student debt held by the student loans company. Young people should not underestimate the burden of debt. I was of the first Uni generation to pay for my education and year-on-year my fees kept increasing and that is a debt I still carry today. It affects many things I can do, especially as I am from a lower income family. The Greens would plan to pay for this by scrapping High Speed 2 (HS2). The cost of this project alone is creeping into the near £70bn region. Other money-draining projects include scrapping the renewal of the Trident Nuclear Program which cost over £100bn. This amount money can be reinvested in the NHS, education and the social services, which improves the quality of life for us all.

Schools budgets, especially in inner-London are being slashed. What will you do to reverse this damage?
I would fight to scrap big projects like HS2 and use the money to reinvest in schools in the area. HS2 will be coming through Hampstead and Kilburn and its construction alone will be affecting schools significantly.

Do you think there is enough done to raise political awareness in schools?
No, I don't think enough is being done to raise political awareness in schools. The Greens' policy is to ensure politics is part of young peoples' school education. Remember: issues like Brexit will affect young people long before they can vote, so it's important that young people are aware of politics and how the machine works, so that when future issues arise they will remember and make more informed choices for their communities. We don't just vote for ourselves but our wider social circle: friends, family and the community as a whole.

In the interest of impartiality, we will be interviewing as many main-party candidates as possible in the run-up to the election, to hear their views as well. Thanks must go to Mr Mansook for making time for this interview.

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