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  • Wikinews interviews candidate for Minneapolis mayor Philip Sturm (2021/05/13 18:10)

    Thursday, May 13, 2021 

    Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey on April 20, 2021.
    Image: Tony Webster.

    Wikinews extended invitations by e-mail in the first week of May to Philip Sturm, a candidate running in the mayoral election of the US city of Minneapolis, Minnesota set to take place November 2 alongside that for city council, two seats of the Board of Estimate and Taxation and nine seats of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. Sturm discussed information about his campaign and policies with Wikinews.

    Philip Sturm in 2021.
    Image: Philip Sturm.

    Sturm is a veteran who served from 1999 to 2003 in the US Marine Corps, stationed on Okinawa Island, Japan before performing operations in the US invasion of Afghanistan and 2003 invasion of Iraq. According to his web site, Sturm has a career in "manufacturing and operations". According to his web site's 'civic vitae' section, Sturm was co-chair for the DFL (Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party), District 62 in 2005 and a member of Veterans for Kerry.

    He was a volunteer special deputy in Hennepin County, Minnesota, a member of the 9-1-1 emergency helpline workgroup for the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD), the 9/11 and GWOT (Global War on Terrorism) Remembrance Task Force with the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs and the racial equity fund with H.B. Fuller.

    According to Minneapolis' official website Jacob Frey won the last election in 2017 receiving 44.69% in the final round of voting. KSTP-TV reported Frey announced his run for re-election January 21. Sturm registered his candidacy on March 22.

    Wikinews

    Please introduce yourself: your history and background.

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Philip SturmWikinews waves Right.png)) I'm Phil, 40 years old, married, white. Moved to Minneapolis in 2003 after being honorably discharged from the Marine Corps. Born in Memphis, TN [Tennessee] but grew up in the suburbs in Champlin, MN [Minnesota]. Graduated from Champlin Park High School in 1998. Went to Augsburg College for 2 years, but stopped going after the financial collapse to go back to work. I work in chemicals and manufacturing. Solidly middle class now. I volunteered as a Hennepin County Special Deputy in 2018–2019 to learn more about public safety, emergency management and community service. I was privileged to serve on the MPD/911 workgroup which studied and recommended pilot programs for alternative 911 responses other than police.

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What made you decide to run for Minneapolis Mayor?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Philip SturmWikinews waves Right.png)) During the rioting in 2020, one night the mayor and the governor were giving a press conference at 2 am. We watched online for two or three days as there was no government, no police and no safety. The governor is on the TV raving like a lunatic about Russian agents and drug cartels. I knew then that we were at the mercy of highly credentialed yet fundamentally incompetent people. This experience solidified in my mind a need and a growing burden to do something about it. We have been lurching from crisis to crisis at the hands of so-called experts who consistently fail upwards. And I'm tired of it.

    The toppling of the Firdos Square statue of Saddam Hussein during the Battle of Baghdad, April 9, 2003.
    Image: U.S. military or Department of Defense.

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Please elaborate on your military service.

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Philip SturmWikinews waves Right.png)) Joined in February of 1999. Went to boot camp in San Diego, CA [California]. Trained as Combat Engineer. Spent first year in Okinawa. Was assigned to 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion on Camp Lejeune, NC [North Carolina] (Jacksonville NC). Was on leave when 9/11 happened. We were assigned to the 26th MEU [Marine Expeditionary Unit] with 3rd Battalion 6th Marines. We captured Kandahar Airport in Dec[ember] 2001, and began patrol and humanitarian operations in the area. Served under Gen[eral] [Jim] Mattis. Did a lot of mine and unexploded ordnance clearance.

    Was stop-lossed in Jan[uary] 2003 as they were working up to invade Iraq. Was attached to 1st Battalion 4th Marines as lead engineer element for RCT 1 (Regimental Combat Team 1) under Colonel Dowdy. Gen[eral] Mattis relieved Col Dowdy for going around Al Kut instead of through it. I would've been one of the first into the city and would've probably been killed or injured if we went that route. I was responsible for reconning engineer assets, bridge capacities and neutralizing weapons caches, explosives and missiles, as we made our way north. I was sent back home soon after we reached Baghdad when everyone thought the war was over and everything was hunky dory.

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Why should Minneapolitans vote for you?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Philip SturmWikinews waves Right.png)) People should vote for me if they want to try something other than the carousel of lawyers, professionals and MBAs that consistently produce substandard results, yet live in a world of awards, back patting, compliments and "success". We are all suffering for it. I'm an empirically minded person with experience in an industry which demands actual results and you can't fake it. I understand how to lead martial organizations and the values needed to reign in those cultures when they're out of control. I am ready and willing to make the necessary enemies, and am not concerned primarily with maintaining professional reputations, contacts and networks so I can get a nice cushy non-profit, consulting, or lobbying job somewhere after being mayor.

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Your civic vitae says you resigned from the 9/11 and GWOT Remembrance Task Force [recently]. Why?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Philip SturmWikinews waves Right.png)) I didn't want a political run to distract from the work of the Task Force or bring negative attention to it, and to avoid seeming like I was using it as a campaign point.

    Woman holds up sign advocating for community control of the Minneapolis Police Department in Minneapolis on February 25, 2021.
    Image: Chad Davis.

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Your web site says "it is a falsehood that police just need good faith political allies to effect change [...] They [the Minneapolis police] do not view themselves as part of the community". Could you please elaborate?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Philip SturmWikinews waves Right.png)) We have listened to police chiefs, sheriffs, and unions now for years offer to "sit down" and work on reform "together". This is nothing but lies and stalling and media relations. They have no interest in sitting down with people who aren't cops and submitting to a reform process that isn't led by them. The ideology of the thin blue line, the practice of omerta, their new fangled flag all speak to an insular and autonomous culture operating in the grey zones of society. Part of the purpose of my campaign is to clarify where things stand, to say things that need saying, and to say those things other professional politicians can't say.

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Your web site also lists your promise to "systematically dismantle the culture of militarism which is prevailing in police today", adding "[w]here there is militarism there is racism." Could you please elaborate?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Philip SturmWikinews waves Right.png)) Given my experience in the Marine Corps, I was interested in our organizational history during the Banana Wars. I read a work by a social scientist who studied the effect of colonizing and occupying the global south on social trends in general. This work studied how the Marine Corps occupation of Haiti under Woodrow Wilson exacerbated racism, produced new stereotypes, and increased chauvinist impulses in society. It elucidated the contradiction between trying to "help" other nations by militarily occupying them, while back at home racism against those people increases as a result of conflict. We see the same thing today in the aftermath of occupying Iraq and Afghanistan. We are there ostensibly to "help", but in our helping it foments and fosters a militaristic and xenophobic culture back home.

    Militarism is appropriate in military settings. It is inappropriate outside of the military. Militarizing the police leads us to the same contradictions we see in global geopolitics: we are there ostensibly to "help" people in poor neighborhoods, but the occupying of those neighborhoods simply leads to an increasingly racist culture within the police force and the suburban/exurban cultures which support them.

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Your web site mentions a potential shift in tax burdens "as necessary to address long standing economic disparities, as no cost is too great to achieve justice and equality." Could you please elaborate?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Philip SturmWikinews waves Right.png)) By providing sales tax relief and other forms of tax relief to oppressed neighborhoods the tax levy burden would automatically shift by default to other areas of the city, with more money and wealth.

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) On housing, you have voiced support on your web site for "a tenant right to purchase, pay to quit notice and eviction protections, as well as rent stabilization." Could you please elaborate?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Philip SturmWikinews waves Right.png)) I support a yearly rent cap based on inflation plus a set percentage (something around 5%). In light of the pandemic I support efforts to keep people in housing and making landlords whole under some sort of program afforded by federal relief.

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What does Minneapolis lack under Mayor Jacob Frey you hope to supplement?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Philip SturmWikinews waves Right.png)) What I will bring is a more down to earth, empirically based, skeptical point of view to a self-reinforcing professional community that lacks insight into their blind spots, failures and limitations.

    Raymond Dehn with supporters on July 8, 2017.
    Image: Tony Webster.

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Who did you support in the 2017 Minneapolis mayoral election, if anyone?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Philip SturmWikinews waves Right.png)) I supported Raymond Dehn.

    Erin Murphy with supporters at the Twin Cities Pride Parade on June 24, 2018.
    Image: Tony Webster.
    Tim Walz with supporters, also at the Twin Cities Pride Parade on June 24, 2018.
    Image: Tony Webster.

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Who did you support in the 2018 Minnesota gubernatorial election, if anyone?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Philip SturmWikinews waves Right.png)) I supported Erin Murphy and voted for [Tim] Walz.

    Bernie Sanders at a rally in St. Paul, Minnesota on March 2, 2020.
    Image: Lorie Shaull.
    Joe Biden at a rally in Falcon Heights, Minnesota on October 30, 2020.
    Image: Lorie Shaull.

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Who did you support in the 2020 United States presidential election, if anyone?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Philip SturmWikinews waves Right.png)) I supported Bernie Sanders and voted for [Joe] Biden.

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) The Star Tribune reported in 2019 only 37% of low-income Minnesota students were proficient in maths and reading, and only 67% of African-American students graduated high school, compared to 88% of white students. How will you address this, if elected?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Philip SturmWikinews waves Right.png)) The most effective thing we can do in concert with the school board is work on stable housing and food security. There is already work being done in this area between the city and the schools. Housing policies can more generally support low income and African American communities by reducing instability, uncertainty and the churn of changing schools and always moving and being shuffled around from lease to lease, which negatively impacts student learning and vitality.

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) According to 2020 Census Data, the median black family in the Twin Cities area has a median income of $38,178 a year, compared to the median white income of $84,459; Minnesota as a whole has the biggest income inequality of any state. How will you address this, if elected[?]

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Philip SturmWikinews waves Right.png)) We need to continue supporting living wage polices, enforcement of sick and leave time, and promote stable long term housing solutions which really give people a chance to get on top of bills and start saving some. We should pursue institutional cooperation with Fortune 500 companies and educational organizations willing to sustain technical and trades education to support our manufacturing industries in the area (medical device, semi-conductor, plastics, prototyping, etc.)

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) How will you handle the vaccine rollout, if elected?

    No answer was provided.

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Hennepin County has confirmed over 120,000 cases of COVID-19 and over 1,700 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. How will you address this, if elected?

    No answer was provided.

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What distinguishes yourself from the other candidates?

    No answer was provided.

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) If you could not vote for yourself, who would you vote for, if anyone?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Philip SturmWikinews waves Right.png)) Undecided, but I generally support AJ Awed.

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What are some reasons people may not vote Sturm?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Philip SturmWikinews waves Right.png)) Not enough government executive experience. Another white male running for office, etc.

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What do you picture Minneapolis looking like in 2025 under your leadership?

    No answer was provided.

    Omar Bradley with US president John F. Kennedy on October 18, 1963.
    Image: Abbie Rowe.
    Hubert Humphrey with Coretta Scott King and Martin Luther King, Jr. on December 17, 1964.
    Image: United States Library of Congress.
    Dwight D. Eisenhower at the 1964 Republican National Convention on July 13.
    Image: Warren K. Leffler.

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Which historical figure do you most admire?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Philip SturmWikinews waves Right.png)) I am an avid history reader and it changes with whatever I'm currently reading and studying. Overall I would say that I admire Omar Bradley as I strongly identify with his leadership style, personality, and example of calm, polite, level-headed executive style. I often identify with people who aren't immediately identified as leaders or successful, but when the shit hits the fan, they outperform their peers. It reflects my experience in the military as I wasn't recognized until I excelled under fire, and my occupational knowledge and competence helped me lead when others weren't expecting it.

    I look to Hubert Humphrey as an example to counterbalance my cynicism, as he was the "happy warrior", and we could all be more positive in politics.

    A related quote that I like: "This is a long tough road we have to travel. The men that can do things are going to be sought out just as surely as the sun rises in the morning. Fake reputations, habits of glib and clever speech, and glittering surface performance are going to be discovered." -Dwight Eisenhower

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Anything else you would like to say?

    No answer was provided.


    Wikinews
    This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.
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  • Wikinews interviews Jonathan Stanley, Scottish Unionist candidate for 2021 Airdrie and Shotts by-election in Scotland (2021/05/10 21:06)

    Monday, May 10, 2021 

    Portrait of Jonathan Stanley.
    Image: Jonathan Stanley.

    Voters in the Scottish constituency of Airdrie and Shotts are to go to the polls on May 13 to elect a replacement member of parliament (MP) to the United Kingdom House of Commons.

    The outgoing MP for the seat is Neil Gray — a representative of the pro-independence Scottish National Party — was resigning to run in the Scottish Parliament election, which was to occur on May 6. Gray won the seat with 45.1% of the vote at the 2019 general election, winning 13.1% more than the second placed candidate Helen McFarlane of the Scottish Labour party, who received 32.0% of the votes.

    One of the eight candidates running in this constituency is Jonathan Stanley of the Scottish Unionist Party. Stanley was selected as the prospective parliamentary candidate for this seat in September, after it was announced Gray would be seeking nomination in the Scottish Parliament. Stanley is also running in the Scottish Parliament election, running as a list candidate in the Lothian region for the Alliance 4 Unity party.

    Wikinews spoke to Stanley about important issues issues both nationwide and in Airdrie and Shotts.

    Stanley provided two links each alongside the answers to the first two questions. For the first question, these were opinion pieces written by him, and for the second, these were press releases from a think tank Stanley is involved in. Those four links are cited in the external links section.

    The first opinion piece addresses housing, calling for, among other things, social housing to be restricted to those who have resided in the UK for ten years or more, a 20% stamp duty on houses sold to foreigners, and abolishing income tax relief for "buy to let" mortgages. The second opinion piece addressed a hate speech law passed by the Scottish Parliament, and said it threatened freedoms and "families['] privacy and security of their homes".

    The two press releases concerned COVID-19. The first, published in late January 2020, called for mass flu and pneumococcal vaccination for high risk groups and the banning of flights to and from China, except medical relief flights. The second, published on 15 March 2020, called for a number of things, including the closure of the UK border, a national lockdown, Universal Credit for all during the crisis, a guarantee of essential utilities, and national procurement of ventilators.

    Wikinews

    Why did you decide to run in this by-election?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Jonathan StanleyWikinews waves Right.png)) Unionism is building a Britain that puts our most vulnerable first and helps everyone meet their potential. As a doctor I believe Monklands A&E will close within five years now the trauma department has been removed. It must come back. Call centre jobs are vital to Airdrie and I'm appalled Teleperformance is shutting the office and working people from home, even spying on them by treating the home as a workshop. I have outlined my plans to protect working-at-home rights, to stop COVID[-]19 downgrading working conditions. Freedom is more important than any idea of independence. We cannot be independent if we cannot speak freely at home so I oppose the Hate Speech Act.

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What are your thoughts on how the coronavirus pandemic has been handled by Westminster?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Jonathan StanleyWikinews waves Right.png)) As the Senior Researcher for the Bow Group, the UK's oldest conservative think tank[,] I called for a public health on COVID[-]19 in January 2020. I called for border closures, focusing on high risk patients, and getting Vitamin D sent out to everyone in the UK. There is not a single health professional in the British Cabinet and their manage has been abysmal, inept, dangerous and an economic disaster[.]

    Taxis at Waverley Station in Edinburgh.
    Image: Roger Wollstadt.

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What do you think needs to be done to improve transport services in the Airdrie and Shotts constituency?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Jonathan StanleyWikinews waves Right.png)) The first priority is the urgent repair of roads as around 90% of passenger journeys are by car. In the name of equality, road repair comes before any further public transport investment. The Scottish Unionists resolve to be the most car friendly party in the United Kingdom. The treatment of taxi drivers has been a disgrace and money that was meant for them has been held back by the [Scottish National Party] SNP to ransom them in this election. The cabbie is the top flight provider of public transport. We back them 100%[.]

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Do you support the idea of a second independence referendum?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Jonathan StanleyWikinews waves Right.png)) We are the Scottish Unionist Party, so no[.]

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Do you think the Conservative government is doing enough to combat climate change?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Jonathan StanleyWikinews waves Right.png)) The Tories rarely approach a topic using evidence and economic sense. As a technically advanced economy with global soft power the focus must be on the promotion of technological solutions, not energy austerity. We favour much more nuclear and tidal power in the UK and to use diplomacy to drive up energy efficiency in the USA and pressure Canada away from oil sands which are extremely polluting. The WTO [World Trade Organization] based order on tariffs predates the divergence in global environmental standards we are seeing. We oppose any phase out in fossil fuels for cars and will let technology lead us to carbon free fuels in due course[.]

    George Galloway founded the Alliance 4 Unity, also known as All for Unity, in July 2020.
    Image: David Hunt.

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Why did you make the decision to also run for the Alliance 4 Unity in the Holyrood election?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Jonathan StanleyWikinews waves Right.png)) These elections are close in timing but different in nature. A4U is about maximising the pro-UK vote with a crisp consistent message that voters can follow. We aim to remove the SNP from government and audit Holyrood. George Galloway has taken a team approach and invited the skills needed for a true turnaround team. This is the first stage in encouraging other parties to work together by leaving them to contest constituencies. We have made tactical voting our number one strategy and it is now the main issue of the election. That achievement is extraordinary in such a short time when canvassing was impossible.

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What reason do voters have to give you their vote over a number of other pro-union parties?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Jonathan StanleyWikinews waves Right.png)) As above. Candidates were invited to form a team around a mission. Only A4U has sought to cooperate with legacy parties even when we disagree with them on many things, we are the only party in this election that is goal orientated. That's new and for the establishment it's terrifying.

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) You left UKIP in 2015 over what you said was racism and bullying. What led you to the Scottish Unionists?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Jonathan StanleyWikinews waves Right.png)) Elements in UKIP attempted to adopt sectarianism as way to appeal for segments of the Unionist community. Growing up in South Lancashire where Catholic and Protestants live together happily this was anathema to me. It reflected the divisive goals of the SNP and I have no patience with such cynical indulgent behaviour. I rejoined the Tories to further Brexit and left when they resorted to tribal blackmail over a second referendum to win a few seats. The Scottish Unionists are a British party that welcomes people of all religious traditions, always conscious of Britain's Christian heritage.

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What is a local issue that you think isn't being addressed that should be?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Jonathan StanleyWikinews waves Right.png)) Monklands hospital is being failed as are so many district general hospitals where politicians want to centralise services and power to serve big cities where the votes are. Distance matters to emergency care. It's a matter of life and death. I've seen it when people take too long to get to A&E because they don't have a car. For a young mum with children or an elderly couple, a round trip in a taxi of one hour is very expensive night out. Distance punishes those least mobile. It's obvious if you think about it.

    Steven Woolfe served as an Member of the European Parliament.
    Image: Gibwriter.

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) If you're elected, what's one thing you'd like to change about the law?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Jonathan StanleyWikinews waves Right.png)) I worked with my boss Steven Woolfe MEP [Member of the European Parliament] helping a Catholic family in Liverpool trying to save their child Alfie Evans from having life support turned off. The hospital went as far as banning the child from being treated elsewhere and spent tens of thousands in court fees to this end. I saw a young doctor, [Hadiza] Bawa-Garba, destroyed by a pernicious GMC [General Medical Council] who used members' fees to pursue her to destroy her. So I'm going to support both Alfie's Law and [Hadiza]'s Law:

    • Alfie's Law, No hospital must ever deny the right of any patient, in any condition, to be treated by another willing and able provider.
    • [Hadiza]'s Law. No public or statutory body should enjoy unregulated funds in legal action against its employees or clients.


    Wikinews
    This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.
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  • Wikinews interviews Neil Manson, SDP candidate for 2021 Airdrie and Shotts by-election in Scotland (2021/05/10 13:04)

    Monday, May 10, 2021 

    File photo of Neil Manson.
    Image: Social Democratic Party.

    Voters in the Scottish constituency of Airdrie and Shotts are to go to the polls on May 13 to elect a replacement member of parliament (MP) to the United Kingdom House of Commons.

    The outgoing MP for the seat is Neil Gray — a representative of the pro-independence Scottish National Party — was resigning to run in the Scottish Parliament election, which was to occur on May 6. Gray won the seat with 45.1% of the vote at the 2019 general election, winning 13.1% more than the second placed candidate Helen McFarlane of the Scottish Labour party, who received 32.0% of the votes.

    One of the eight candidates running in this constituency is Neil Manson, the Scottish regional chair of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). The SDP website claims Manson has "enjoyed a varied career working across international markets in both the manufacturing industry and energy sector", and Manson joined the SDP in 2019 after reading the party's New Declaration, which outlines the party's principles.

    Wikinews spoke to Manson about important issues facing Airdrie and Shotts in this by-election.

    Wikinews

    Why did you decide to run in this by-election?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Neil MansonWikinews waves Right.png)) The SDP are seeing a genuine resurgence across the UK, as more and more people become disillusioned with current party politics and look for an alternative party with honest policies at its heart based on our families and communities - no more so than in Scotland. As the Regional Chairman for Scotland I'm a strong advocate for the SDP and also a local, having moved here over 20 years ago and brought up my family in Airdrie.

    A British government press conference on the coronavirus pandemic.
    Image: 10 Downing Street.

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What are your thoughts on how the coronavirus pandemic has been handled by Westminster?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Neil MansonWikinews waves Right.png)) To be honest it's been a difficult task to lead the country through the pandemic, and I don't think there's any doubt mistakes have been made by both the Westminster and Holyrood Governments but being overly critical doesn't help. We as a party supported the first lockdown, but since then have been sceptical of the ongoing Stop-Go approach which didn't suppress the virus and has only served to undermine peoples liberties, and risked causing a prolonged economic depression and negative impact on society.

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What do you think needs to be done to improve transport services in the Airdrie and Shotts constituency?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Neil MansonWikinews waves Right.png)) Our primary policy pledge for transport is to nationalise the rail system, and in the first instance to assert greater control over bus services, particularly an increase in funding support for regional and rural bus travel.

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Do you support the idea of a second independence referendum?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Neil MansonWikinews waves Right.png)) No. The constitution is a reserved matter and the UK Parliament agreed to a referendum which resulted in the decision of the Scottish people to remain in the the United Kingdom. Any change would need to first be discussed and agreed at Westminster.

    Climate change protestors in Edinburgh, Scotland, 2014.
    Image: Scottish Greens.

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Do you think the Conservative government is doing enough to combat climate change?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Neil MansonWikinews waves Right.png)) Environmental issues suffer from too much talk and not enough action under the current (and previous) governments. Whilst the SDP will honour and comply with our global environmental obligations, we would look to implement sustainable changes by encouraging behavioral changes within industry and society as a whole.

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) The SNP describes themselves as social democratic. Where are some primary areas of difference between your party and theirs?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Neil MansonWikinews waves Right.png)) Firstly, we'd disagree that the SNP are social democrats, they're populists. The SDP are actually social democrats in our every day thinking, beliefs and policies - and not just at election time. We're also patriotic, and believe in a strong Scotland within a strong United Kingdom for the benefit of all its citizens.

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Do you agree with your party's policy that an English Parliament should be established?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Neil MansonWikinews waves Right.png)) Yes, I believe this policy can assist in healing many of the divisions we see across the UK, ending the perception of the UK Parliament as an English parliament with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland under its rule. This multi-tiered approach dissolves accountability, fosters a culture of apathy and creates a vacuum where parties like the SNP thrive.

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What does social democracy mean to you?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Neil MansonWikinews waves Right.png)) The SDP seeks the common good in Britain's national interest. We represent neither capital nor labour, not private industry nor the public sector, but only the welfare of the British people and residents of these islands. We seek a path where all the constituent elements of our society can grow and prosper. We believe in a Social Market Economy where pro-public sector and pro-market policy can beneficially coexist within a balanced programme – provided each inhabits its correct domain, and neither is allowed to distort our country's economy in the service of ideology.

    Airdrie Leisure Centre.
    Image: Elliott Simpson.

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What is a local issue that you think isn't being addressed that should be?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Neil MansonWikinews waves Right.png)) I have concerns over the long term plans for our sports and leisure facilities in our local towns and communities throughout the constituency. Many are potentially at risk due to continuing Scottish Government funding cuts to council budgets and access for people of all ages to these facilities to improve our physical and mental health is vital, even more so now to ensure our recovery from Covid[-19].

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) If you're elected, what's one thing you'd like to change about the law?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Neil MansonWikinews waves Right.png)) I'd support the repeal of the much-maligned SNP Hate Crime and Public Order Act, which threatens to criminalise speech on a range of issues if it is thought to be 'hateful'. We feel the bill is ambiguous and lacks sufficient safeguards, even after a recent campaign found that 87 per cent of Scots hold free speech to be an 'important right'. The Hate Crime Bill also raises issues over the erosion of sex-based rights. Within the SDP Transgender and Biological Sex-based Rights policy, we state that it is our belief that biological sex is real, and pledge to support the use of plain English for discussions of biological sex in health and reproductive care.


    Wikinews
    This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.
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  • Wikinews interviews Donald Mackay, UKIP candidate for 2021 Airdrie and Shotts by-election in Scotland (2021/05/10 10:16)

    Monday, May 10, 2021 

    Portrait of Donald Mackay.
    Image: UKIP.

    Voters in the Scottish constituency of Airdrie and Shotts are to go to the polls on May 13 to elect a replacement member of parliament (MP) to the United Kingdom House of Commons.

    The outgoing MP for the seat is Neil Gray — a representative of the pro-independence Scottish National Party — was resigning to run in the Scottish Parliament election, which was to occur on May 6. Gray won the seat with 45.1% of the vote at the 2019 general election, winning 13.1% more than the second placed candidate Helen McFarlane of the Scottish Labour party, who received 32.0% of the votes.

    One of the eight candidates running in this constituency is the leader, secretary, and immigration spokesman of United Kingdom Independence Party Scotland (UKIP), Donald Mackay. On their party website, UKIP says since their beginning in 1993, they have campaigned to take Britain out of the European Union, and claim "it was the efforts of UKIP that forced former Prime Minister David Cameron's hand into holding an In/Out Referendum on 23rd June 2016". After party leader Richard Braine's resignation in 2019, Peter Walker, writing for The Guardian, wrote that UKIP was "now polling at less than 1%, having been largely supplanted by [Nigel] Farage's new Brexit Party", now Reform UK. Two polls conducted shortly after the resignation by Panelbase and Deltapoll showed UKIP at 0.499% and 1%, respectively, compared to the Brexit Party at 8% and 11%.

    Wikinews spoke to Mackay about key political issues in the electorate.

    Wikinews

    Why did you decide to run in this by-election?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Donald MackayWikinews waves Right.png)) UKIP are a mainstream party and should have a candidate in all Westminster elections[.]

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What are your thoughts on how the coronavirus pandemic has been handled by Westminster?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Donald MackayWikinews waves Right.png)) Been handled very badly. Destroying small businesses through a lockdown is not the answer.

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What do you think needs to be done to improve transport services in the Airdrie and Shotts constituency?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Donald MackayWikinews waves Right.png)) No real comment on this[.]

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Do you support the idea of a second independence referendum?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Donald MackayWikinews waves Right.png)) I am a Unionist. If the people of Scotland wish to be politically independent[,] that is their prerogative[,] but my belief is that Scotland is already to some extent independent (it has[,] after all[,] a so-called government) and I would prefer to see Scotland as an integral part of the United Kingdom.

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Do you think the Conservative government is doing enough to combat climate change?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Donald MackayWikinews waves Right.png)) I am not interested in climate change, being a sceptic on the matter.

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) As the leader of UKIP Scotland, what does your party stand for?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Donald MackayWikinews waves Right.png)) The party stands for:

    • Scrap[ping] Holyrood parliament
    • Total commitment to freedom of speech.
    • No more lockdowns or invasion of individual freedom of movement.

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Your party's 2020 manifesto references "Cultural Marxist social engineering of society". Do you stand by that, given that term has been described as an antisemitic conspiracy theory?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Donald MackayWikinews waves Right.png)) Not sure I would use the phrase cultural Marxism but the politicisation of our schools/public sector/police/football teams is something I firmly oppose.

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) How does your party distinguish itself from the similarly anti[-]EU Reform Party?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Donald MackayWikinews waves Right.png)) As far as I am aware Reform UK do not propose the abolition of the Scottish parliament.

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What is a local issue that you think isn't being addressed that should be?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Donald MackayWikinews waves Right.png)) Local sensible investment to make Airdrie a more attractive town to live/work in.

    Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) If you're elected, what's one thing you'd like to change about the law?

    Wikinews waves Left.png((Donald MackayWikinews waves Right.png)) Primarily to remove any restraint on the freedom of speech/thought.


    Wikinews
    This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.
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  • Three injured in a school shooting in Idaho, US; sixth grader in custody (2021/05/09 21:37)

    Sunday, May 9, 2021 

    Two students and a school employee have been injured following a shooting at Rigby Middle School in Idaho, United States, on Thursday, with a sixth grader in custody.

    According to Jefferson County sheriff Steve Anderson, the sixth grader — who attends the middle school and lives in Idaho Falls — pulled out a handgun from her backpack, firing the gun both in and outside the school, with a teacher managing to disarm the student. Police were called to the school at about 9:15AM local time, and the suspect was taken in the custody of the local sheriff's office.

    The trauma medical director at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, Dr. Michael Lemon, has stated the three injured people had non-life threatening injuries to the extremities. The school employee has been treated and released from medical care. A warrant has been issued against an Idaho Falls residence in relation to the shooting.

    School was cancelled in the district for Friday. The local school superintendent, Chad Martin, told "this is the worst nightmare a school district could ever face", and "our hearts and our prayers go out to the victims and their families and all those involved". A student at the school — 12-year-old Yandel Rodriguez — told the Associated Press "me and my classmate were just in class with our teacher — we were doing work — and then all of a sudden, here was a loud noise and then there were two more loud noises. Then there was screaming".

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