AHEAD of the general election we are giving our readers the chance to find out more about what their local candidates stand for.

We will be asking all the candidates in South and West Dorset about the issues that matter to voters in the county and trying to give the electorate an insight into their priorities before they go to the ballot box on Thursday, May 7.

Today we hear from independent parliamentary candidate Andy Kirkwood, who has launched his own campaign called Movement for Active Democracy.

You can also watch a video interview with Andy Kirkwood at dorsetecho.co.uk

How do you propose to make the voice of Dorset people heard in Parliament?

AK: The mandate of the movement is to empower the people of this country and for us to put in a free and fair democracy. A representative democracy is not a democracy, it’s the best attempt any society could put together 2,000 years ago, when you needed a representative for you.

That’s no longer the case because of the technology we have at our fingertips and that is what this is all about, to try and get that message across.

I really believe once the message gets out, MPs should be consigned to the history books. The reason I stand is to get the message out there and secondly if I do win it would give me an even larger platform to speak about a democracy which is free and fair for all.

Is enough being done at a national government level to support rural economies like Dorset?

AK: I think the Government gets its agenda from banks and large corporations, and the permanent under secretaries who remain unchanged even when a new government is elected.

The Prime Minister is not at the top, he is just the sergeant major following the orders of the major corporations.

So I don’t think enough is being done to support economies like Dorset, and I want to give people the chance to have their say and form a new political system.

How will you protect frontline services such as the NHS and policing in the county?

AK: I think the way to do that is to have absolute transparency with the money available. We have never seen a profit and loss account for the country and the people of the county should decide where they want the money to be spent.

I believe in bottom up managing, so if you want to know where to spend money on the NHS, ask the nurses. If you want to know about the police, I would ask the copper on the beat. I believe that’s the same for every service.

Recent years have seen cuts to many services in Dorset, would you expect to see more cuts or less during the next Parliament if your party is successful in the elections?

AK: The reason why there are cuts is because even though there is plenty of money around, it’s being frittered away at the top. The public are now aware of vast sums of money going to banks and corporations and that's why there is not enough money to run the services that people are paying for.

A lot of money is being spent on consultants, and the Government has been reckless with the defence budget, for example, spending £100 billion replacing nuclear missiles when it could be spent on providing retirement homes, or childcare, or any service that's being cut.

Dorset, like much of the country, has an ageing population. What problems does this pose for Government and what do you propose to do to reflect the changing demographic?

AK: If the money being collected through taxation was being used properly through the social care network then this wouldn’t be a problem at all, because there would be plenty of money available to provide care in a number of ways to elderly people.

I think elderly people get pretty short shrift because we are very quick to criticise them, when in actual fact they should be revered and looked up to.

 What would you do to improve the life chances of career opportunities of young people in Dorset?

AK: One of the problems is the aspirations of young people have been set in an extremely low place throughout their life, because of a lack of opportunity at school. That’s very sad to me.

My idea is for everyone to have a platform to decide for themselves what is right and wrong for them, and that includes younger people as well because who am I to tell them what is right for them. Younger people will know what they need more than I do.

When you have been out on the doorstep talking to voters, what has been the main issue raised by the electorate?

AK: People are so disillusioned about the current political system and people are beginning to wake up to it.

A lot of people don’t vote because they have already worked out it’s a complete and utter farce because the election promises made to them, and often the reason they vote for a candidate, are regularly broken.

If you felt strongly about a local issue, would you be prepared to vote against your party line?

AK: I’m allowed to think and say whatever I want, and I will vote in whichever way I want, but what I want is people to handle their own affairs.


What will your part do to make sure young people are engaged in politics? Sarah Trott, aged 13.

AK: If every person in the United Kingdom was voting, if everybody felt empowered to participate, not just every five years by choosing some stranger that they don’t know anything about apart from the image they put forward, then all of a sudden chats with your friends become more engaging, you would just be chatting you would be debating and making the decisions that would affect you, just like the select few MPs do in the House of Commons.

 If you had to make a choice between what’s right for our country’s economy, defence, the NHS, education or the unemployment rate, what would you prioritise first and why? Nick Mason.

AK: If you channelled tax properly and stopped frittering the money away, you could easily fund all these departments several times over, but obviously the current expenditure on defence is shocking and I wouldn't put any more into that.

With all of these services, they would be easy to afford if the money wasn’t going into the administration side of things but going into the front line.