Concrete spoke to Clive Lewis, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Norwich South to discuss his policies and personal stances, two days before the general election vote on 8 June.
Mr Lewis was elected to represent Norwich South in 2015. He is running against James Wright (Liberal Democrat), Lana Hempsall (Conservative), and Richard Bearman (Green) in this general election.
When asked how the Norwich South constituency would benefit if he were to be re-elected, Mr Lewis said: “I’ve fought very hard locally here on issues ranging from cuts to welfare, to voting against a hard Brexit which would affect the interests of this city, and the job prospects of young people in the city and of people from all walks of life. In terms of the NHS and mental health services, I’ve been a champion for that.
“In terms of universities, saying that the government was wrong on trying to reduce the number of overseas students to come to universities. They’re a fantastic addition to campus life, they also bring in much needed revenue to our universities. It’s very very counter productive.
So, voting for me again in this election will mean a continuation of that plus the two years of experience that I’ve gained in the process of doing that.”
Concrete asked Mr Lewis what opportunities for young people, particularly students, he would aim to provide in Norwich if re-elected. Mr Lewis said: “ I would say to young people: Ask not what opportunities your city can provide for you, ask what opportunities you can provide for your city! That was slightly tongue in cheek, obviously the old JFK comment there.
He encouraged students to “look at our manifesto”, calling it “a patently different offer not just young people but every section of society.”
Mr Lewis continued: “Whether it be on people’s ability to have an education without going into debt, to be treated in an NHS which isn’t falling apart or being privatised, or having a planet left, there is only one party that has a realistic prospect and chance and the wherewithal to be able to see all of those things, and that is Labour.”
He said that Labour will evaluate economic success “not by the number of billionaires that we generate, i.e the ‘trickle-down’ process which has been proven not to work” but on the ability of citizens “to lead rich and fulfilled lives.”
Labour’s manifesto contains a pledge to reintroduce maintenance grants and abolish tuition fees. Mr Lewis told Concrete he believes “education is a public good, it is not a commodity.”
He continued: “Why should the MPs and politicians who benefitted from having a grant now turn around and withdraw and refuse the same opportunities to other generations? There also have to be opportunities there for adult education and retraining.”
Mr Lewis stressed the significance in his mind of tactical voting, claiming “there are two clear frontrunners: Labour and the Tories.”
He said that he understands “why a lot of people are tribal” in other left-wing parties, but added: “If you want a progressive MP, and a voice for young people, then you need to make sure your vote counts as much as possible and you need to vote Labour on 8 June.”
Continuing, he said: “People often think when they’re voting they are voting for a national leader. But the reality is you’re voting here in the constituency of Norwich South, and you’re voting for one of the candidates in this election who then goes into parliament.”
Concrete asked Mr Lewis if he would consider running to be leader of the opposition, in the case of Labour losing the election and Jeremy Corbyn resigning. Mr Lewis said his priority is “getting across the finishing line on June 8.”
He stated: “After that, I am looking forward to hopefully supporting Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister and failing that, to making sure that under Jeremy Corbyn or whoever the leader is we are doing the best we possibly can to hold this government to account.
However, Mr Lewis added he would “never say never, on anything.”
Concrete’s interviews with Mr Bearman and Mr Wright can be found here. Despite multiple attempts to set up an interview, Mrs Hempsall did not reply to Concrete’s requests.