In the run-up to next Thursday’s Westminster general election the ‘Journal’ will be publishing a full in-depth interview and profile with each of the seven candidates contesting the seat in the Foyle constituency between now and Wednesday May 6.
We start off the series of interviews and profiles with NI Conservatives candidate, Hamish Badenoch.
Full name: Hamish Alexander Badenoch
Age: 36 – old enough to bring experience, young enough to bring energy and fresh perspectives
Occupation: I have been a journalist in Africa, run a small business and now work for an international company advising on strategy. I am also a local councillor.
Where are you from? After my mother emigrated from Ireland she made a home for herself in Wimbledon. That is where I was born and where I live with my wife and baby daughter. If elected I will make my home in Derry.
How long have you been a member of your party? I have been a member of the Conservative party for over 15 years. I joined the party to make a difference. To improve people’s quality of life and build a fairer, more just society.
Q1 - Why should the people of Foyle vote for you on May 7?
Hamish Badenoch: “As your Conservative candidate I offer people an alternative to the current politics of Northern Ireland.
I want to introduce normal politics focused on the issues that matter most: creating jobs, boosting the economy, improving public services and raising living standards.
“The tribal parties at Stormont are failing to give the people of Northern Ireland a voice on the issues that affect people; rewarding hard work and responsibility, protecting the vulnerable, creating jobs and building a strong, integrated community.
“Through my diverse professional experience I have the skills to be an effective representative for the people of Foyle. As a local councillor I understand the importance of working hard for your electorate. I am uniquely placed to bring a fresh perspective on issues, giving a powerful voice to the people of Foyle.”
Q2 - What are the greatest challenges facing the Foyle constituency at present?
Hamish Badenoch: “My mother emigrated from Ireland in 1960s. Through her, I understand what it’s like not to have the opportunities to fulfil your dreams. Foyle is a great constituency. But it’s failing to realise its potential. Unemployment is too high; eroding living standards and crushing aspiration (especially among the young). Knocking on doors and meeting residents nearly everyone mentions the collapse of manufacturing and lack of jobs in the North West. If elected as your MP I will be a jobs ambassador for Foyle.
I will travel from Derry to Dublin, London to Liverpool and Mumbai to Shanghai lobbying governments and corporations to invest in quality jobs in Foyle. Currently there are only 1,300 financial services jobs Foyle. This is not good enough and I am already speaking to industry bodies about how this could be addressed.”
Q3 - Foyle has been an SDLP stronghold for over 30 years, if voted in what would you and your party do differently?
Hamish Badenoch: “The SDLP talks a lot what it is going to do for Foyle. However, after 30 years in power, why has it not already addressed these issues? Why is unemployment so high? Why have we not seen the necessary investment at Magee? Why are news roads being built in Belfast at the expense of the North West? I don’t believe that politicians should be rewarded for failure. If elected as your MP I will ask you to judge me on my track record. I would expect you to kick me out in five years if I fail to bring more jobs to Foyle.
“Unlike the SDLP (or indeed Sinn Fein, the DUP, the Alliance or the UUP) the Conservatives will stand above the fray of tribal Stormont politics – focusing on the issues that really matter to people’s daily lives.
“As your Conservative MP I would have a strong voice at the heart of government and the UK to fight for more jobs, more growth and more investment in Foyle.”
Q4 - How would you and your party help the people in Foyle realise a better quality of life?
Hamish Badenoch: “Quality of life is about freedom – the freedom to choose how you live, where you work or where you educate your kids. The freedom to fulfil your hopes and aspirations. The freedom that comes from financial security.
“A lot of parties in Northern Ireland use the rhetoric of freedom. But their policies can’t deliver the prosperity that creates freedom. Unreformed welfare does not make people free. It locks them into a relationship of dependency.
“The Conservatives have spent the last five years turning around the UK economy; creating one of the fastest growing economies in the world, cutting the deficit, creating over two million new jobs and taking millions of the lowest paid out of tax. A future Conservative government would continue to build on these achievements. As your MP, I will fight ever day to ensure that the people of Foyle feel the benefits of a Conservative government; more jobs, lower taxes and a better quality of life.”