In yesterday's Lincolnshire Echo, Cllr. Reg Shore, (Liberal Democrat), Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on West Lindsey District Council representing Stow Ward and County Councillor for the Skellingthorpe and Hykeham South Division (which is part of the Lincoln Constituency), answered questions from readers of the paper.
The first question was from a student and regarded the matter of raising tuition fees and the barriers this creates in accessing educations. Cllr. Shore's response is good. He says:
"I don't support any such rise and , as a Liberal Democrat, go further by committing to scrap tuition fees altogether - as we have already done in Scotland."
Initially very good, doubtlessly reassuring the questioner, Mr. Jonathan Holmes, but Cllr. Shore then hints that such may not be possible in the future and says:
"In the short-term, I will fight any attempt to raise them."
Cllr. Shore goes on to attack the government's record on improving opportunity, but fails to make any significant attack to criticise the introduction of fees, after the 1997 General Election, with absolutely no hint given in Labour's manifesto that they would introduce such a sweeping measure.
The second question, from a Mr. Keith Bean, regards the candidate's views on fox hunting. Cllr. Shore says he is 'personally against' fox hunting and blood sports.
Mr. P. Rives asks the third question regarding rail freight being diverted through Lincoln and causing problems of congestion on the High Street. Cllr. Shore responds in rhetoric without citing any specific measure to solve the problem. He blames Network Rail, past Labour-led City Councils' planning policies and suggests that for a long time he has been trying to get something done about these sort of problems and failed.
Cllr. Shore gives examples of the sort of projects that could improve traffic flows within Lincoln: Improved public transport, park and ride facilities, strategic rail stations and - making his fist mistake - a full ring road, presumably meaning an orbital bypass.
Responding to the seventh question about plans for the eastern bypass, from Mr. Seb Thomas, Cllr. Shore U-turns saying:
"You are absolutely right that an eastern bypass will create more problems thanCllr. Shore then indulges himself in an area, as a District Councillor and former Council Leader, which he knows something about. Development and Planning. He talks about how planning this sort of development is the responsibility of a number of agencies and the East Midland Regional Assembly, forgetting that technical details of this nature do nothing to answer questions. People want to know do you support a project or not, and what ideas a candidate has to make their lives better.
it solves, especially until a southern bypass is completed".
Penny Kemp asks about abolishing the minimum wage.
"Would you vote to get rid of the minimum wage?"Cllr. Shore doesn't answer the question, he skirts around it and does not commit:
"I think the minimum wage is the lowest wage at which workers are expectedAnother question this time on the concessionary bus travel scheme operated for the over-60s from A Mr. Doug West asking the candidate for the party line. Cllr. Shore makes a further mistake, it is something he has a track record on and has engaged with as a councillor, so he forgets the purpose of the question and decides instead to blow his own trumpet. Trotting out a nice soundbite Cllr. Shore says:
to sell their labour.
"Without this, workers have been exposed to abuse and exploitation for
centuries and it has been a long struggle to where we are today.
"Fairness of pay, and this includes addressing inequalities between sexes,
must be part of the foundation of a modern society."
"I believe that the older generation is the backbone of our society, who should
be protected and not neglected."
This is followed by brief, but unclear statement on helping pensioners 'retain their mobility and independence. Cllr. Shore finishes with:
"When I joined West Lindsey District Council in 1999, the first motion I put
forward was to seek a way to offer free travel for the over-60s"
For information the Liberal Democrats do not seem to have a policy on Concessionary Bus Travel for the over-60s.
Mr. Abdul Majid enquires about further privatisation of the civil service and wants to know the candidate's position. Cllr. Shore suddenly unfurls a red banner from nowhere, and in staunchest socialist terms declares:
"I have serious concerns about privatisation at any time and anywhere.
"[Privatisation] spells job losses, wage cuts, essential but non-profit making arms being severed and leaving the vulnerable isolated."
That would be a 'no' then to privatisation.
Responding to a question about having second jobs Cllr. Shore says:
"I do draw the line at paid work.
"I believe MPs should largely concentrate on being an MP. If not in
Westminster I would be in Lincoln responding to residents' issues and supporting
them in order to find resolutions."
It is a shame then that Cllr. Shore lives nine miles from the city centre and isn't actually resident in the constituency - something that is always attacked by the Liberal Democrats in their literature.
Finally, Cllr. Shore is asked, by a Mr. Will Armstrong:
"If you could be any cabinet minister which one would you be and why?"Cllr. Shore responds in a schizophrenic manner, initially saying that being in cabinet makes it more difficult to serve your constituency - Ms Gillian Merron MP, Lincoln's current Labour parliamentarian knows all about that - and then declare that he would enjoy being a minister for education. In the immortal word of the late Mrs. Maud Flanders from The Simpsons:
"Won't somebody please think of the children!"
So final score: 3/10 - Not bad, and certainly better than the 18.2% share of the vote the Liberal Democrats got in the 2005 election.