Oliver Lewis – Reform UK – Montgomeryshire and Glyndwr General Election 2024

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This is a candidate page for the Montgomeryshire and Glyndwr constituency – the full list of candidates are: Jeremy David Brignell-Thorp, Oliver Lewis, Glyn Preston, Elwyn Vaughan, Craig Williams, Steve Witherden.

You can view our Election 2024 homepage here.

Provided Bio:

I was born in Oxford and grew up near-by, but my father’s father was Welsh and my extended Welsh family live in Carms and north Montgomeryshire. My grandfather was briefly ‘the oldest living Welshman’ when he died in his 109th year in 2012; like all of my Welsh family, he was a fluent Welsh speaker.

A coal miner, he was funded to sit for the School Certificate (the old version of A Level) and eventually left the mines to complete degrees at the London School of Economics, where I would later study.

I attended my local comprehensive, and then read Government and History at the LSE for my undergraduate degree which I graduated from in 2009. I then worked in financial services for five years, but hated office life and left the industry to sit for a Masters in Modern British History at King’s College, London.

Around the same time I had an idea to write my first book, a travelogue of all the places George Orwell lived and worked. I thus began a career as a travel writer, with this book released last year (‘The Orwell Tour: Travels Through the Life and Work of George Orwell’). I am now writing my second, which applies the same method to the life and work of John Steinbeck.

After I finished the manuscript for my book on Orwell, I started a PhD, at Oxford, where I research ‘British State Failure’, primarily through the prism of the privatisation of British Rail.

I teach British politics at Oxford, and also teach for SciencesPo (more or less, the French version of the LSE). I moved to Montgomery at the end of 2017, and thus live in the Montgomeryshire part of the constituency.

Politically I identify as a radical, and have been influenced by both left wing and right wing political traditions.

I campaign for a wholesale re-set of Britain’s institutions and of political discourse in our country; this can only be achieved with a new political party with fresh ideas and a new generation of political leaders.

My main priorities in our new constituency are major infrastructure upgrades, particularly of the region’s connectivity with England.

Our hospitals and our schools have equally experienced neglect under the stewardship of the existing parties; Wales has the worst-performing secondary schools among the nations of the UK.

Reform stands for bold leadership and the restoration of sound standards of government in our country; changes which, in my view, cannot come soon enough.

Q&A Responses:

 

1. What is the top issue that you feel the people of Montgomeryshire and Glyndwr will want you to represent them on, and what is your position on it?

There are so many issues for our region it is hard to choose just one. However, I would say that the region’s backward infrastructure is the main priority for me. Our roads and railways are beyond appalling. I am committed to ensuring Mid-Wales benefits from a trunk road connection to England, just as North Wales and South Wales have had for decades, and electrification of the railway from Wolverhampton to Aberystwyth and Chester. This would improve connectivity and thus transform the area’s economy and living standards, as well as help with the access to specialist healthcare issues (because residents would be able to reach these faster than they can now).

2. Cost of living is up, mortgages are up, food prices are up, energy costs are up, rent is up – all with inflation still increasing. What can you practically do as an MP to help people in Montgomeryshire and Glyndwr in the future?

Reactive, small-scale initiatives on a local level are sticking plasters on the real problem. The reason we have a cost of living crisis is that our electricity is so expensive – more than three times as much as what the French pay for theirs. This feeds into all of our industries’ costs, and producers pass these costs on to consumers. The UK Government is solely responsible for the mess they have made of our electricity supply, with their obsession with electricity generation from unreliable wind and solar. We have to get back to reliable base supply, and to reintegrate our electricity industry as a vertically integrated, publicly-owned monopoly. Reform is committed to reversing electricity privatisation, properly, and ensuring we manage the cost of electricity down for consumers.

3. Social housing wait lists are high, private home ownership is more and more unattainable with more people in their 20s and 30s still living at home with their parents. In your view, how can this be resolved?

The primary cause of our housing crisis is uncontrolled immigration – 12 million people have been immigrated to the UK since 1991. All of the parties of government since 1991 are responsible for this – the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats. It is simply impossible to out-build this scale of migration, even if sacrificing our farmland and green spaces was considered a price worth paying. We are not the United States, or even France. We are already one of the most densely-populated countries on earth. We must achieve ‘Net Zero’ immigration; only Reform is committed to this.

4. Young people are often an afterthought during election cycles and after years of disrupted education, including closure of youth facilities and lack of mental health support. What do you think needs to be put into place to support young people and how would you lobby for this if elected.

Public facilities in Britain are woeful; not just youth facilities, but community halls and what remains of our public library system. Reform intends to restructure local government in England and Wales, properly funding youth, arts and cultural activities on a regional basis; an incredibly successful model in France. Every French ‘Department’ has a publicly-funded orchestra, and most French communes have publicly-owned youth centres and day-care facilities. Why doesn’t Britain? No other political party seems to be asking questions like these.

5. Health is devolved, but there is a link to Westminster and England in many ways. People are waiting longer for GP appointments, hospital waiting times have risen, staff are poorly paid and overworked. In your opinion, how do you think the issues in the NHS need addressing

The NHS does not have a shortage of money, it is better funded now than it ever has been. There is an excess of demand – I’m afraid, linked to the immigration challenge I mention above – and an over-reliance on exploiting developing countries by poaching their scarce medical staff. This is morally reprehensible. Britain must train more of its own people to join the medical professions, and invest properly in the Health Service’s built infrastructure. There seem to be very few prefabricated hospital buildings in the United States or France; in our region, they are the norm. This is simply unacceptable to me.

6. How do you think climate change will affect Montgomeryshire and Glyndwr in the future, and what as a local MP can you do on the matter?

I’m afraid I take a very long view on this. Climate has always changed and always will – at some point ‘in the future’, another ice age will occur and Britain will be smothered yet again by a massive layer of ice 3-4 kilometres thick. Humanity has no control over changing climate; I really do wonder why the climate change lobby have this God-complex which suggests it does. Humans could walk from England to Denmark just 8,000 years ago or so; this is a blink of an eye in geological terms. We are in an inter-glacial ‘warm period’, and this warming began long before the industrial revolution. Thus, there is very little I can do as a local MP – or, indeed, any of us can do. What we can control and what is within our power is to protect the environment in so many other ways; protecting our forests and wetlands, and minimising plastic consumption. These are my environmental priorities.

7. Do you think migration is a big issue to the people of Montgomeryshire and Glyndwr, and if so, why? Summarise your views.

I do, but the effects on this region are really secondary because its level of migration is relatively small compared to our urban centres. The secondary effects are the housing pressures, which have led to an escalation of house prices and rents everywhere, and a scarcity of skilled professionals able to staff our hospitals and our schools (because in the short run, supply of these public services is fixed; and expensive to expand in the long term, which in this country usually means it never happens!)

8. What are your views on the current devolution arrangements from Westminster to Cardiff, and what change if any, would you support?

The Senedd is a failing institution, possibly a consequence of the lazy rule of the Stalinist-style Labour Party now in its 25th year of governing Wales. Failing institutions should be expanded. Reform is committed to making the institution work properly; our number one priority is improving attainment in Wales’ secondary schools, which have the worst GCSE and A Level results among the UK nations by a considerable margin. We object to Labour and Plaid Cymru’s proposals to hugely expand the Senedd; what we need is a better quality and calibre of representative in the Senedd, rather than more of them. We are also committed to abolishing the Police and Crime Commissioner roles, which seem to us to be a total waste of time and money.

9. What is your view on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and what future path would you like the UK Parliament to take?

The violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty is abhorrent, and it is right that a coalition led by the West have objected to it. However, from a position of strength against Russia, our forces should lead to a negotiated settlement to ensure peace for the peoples of these regions is achieved. Bear in mind that the UK’s international power and reach is substantially smaller than it was, even by the standards of the 2000s. We are one voice among many, but I hope we are guided by diplomacy and a deep understanding of the nuances of this tragic conflict in achievement of a lasting peace.

10. Finally, Trust in politics is at an all time low. How will you engage with residents if elected and work to rebuild that trust and more importantly, why should voters put their faith in you?

This is probably my pet peeve. The expenses scandal told us all we need to know about how the majority of our political class treat their positions of influence; too many British politicians are careerists who are in the business of politics for the wrong reasons. We seem to no longer have politicians of calibre – I think of Shirley Williams, or Kenneth Baker, or Denis Healey. Electors’ main priority must be in choosing people who they can see are not motivated by what they can earn from Parliamentary service, or the connections they can make for when they leave Parliament. A new political party bereft of vested interests (Reform!) is a good start.

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