Robert Poll, Reform Party GLA candidate for Croydon and Sutton

Robert Poll is the Reform Party (formally the Brexit Party) GLA candidate for the Croydon and Sutton constituency.  Robert is also the digital founder of the Save Our Statues campaign.  We speak to Robert about the campaign, local politics, and his campaign for the GLA.

Robert thank-you for your time.

“like many, it took a trigger moment to make me actually stand up and do something. For me, it was the attack on our heritage last summer. There were very few voices in politics speaking against it and I wanted to change that”

Can you tell us a bit about your background in political campaigns, and what led to you being the Reform Party Candidate in Croydon and Sutton?

I’m no career politician – I think the best politicians come from a background in life, not a background in politics. I’ve always had strong political convictions, but, like many, it took a trigger moment to make me actually stand up and do something. For me, it was the attack on our heritage last summer. There were very few voices in politics speaking against it and I wanted to change that. Similarly, right now, there aren’t many voices speaking up for our liberties. We have two parties that both believe in big government and high taxes, with no alternative championing individual rights and a free economy. The Reform Party offers that alternative.

You were part of setting up the Save Our Statues campaign.  How did you set up the campaign and how is it progressing?

I started the campaign in June last year after Colston’s statue was vandalised. It hit 10,000 followers in just 8 weeks and now there are 22,000. I think it struck a chord with the ordinary public who felt they weren’t being listened to or represented. The idea was to stand up for due process and to help rally the silent majority by publicising petitions, consultations and planning applications. And it’s made a difference. For example, after we raised 600 objections, the application to remove the statue of Thomas Guy at Guy’s Hospital was withdrawn. But there’s a lot more fighting to do – not only for statues still under threat, but in the wider battle for our identity and values.

We all understood what the Brexit Party stood for, but what’s the raison d’être of the Reform Party, and what do you hope to do in London?

I think Brexit made it clear that certain parts of our system are broken beyond the tweaking being offered by the two main parties, and actually need fundamental reform. These range from our public institutions that have lost our trust, to the political system itself. The British people deserve better – they deserve a real alternative. Economic reform is also vital, now more than ever, if we are to grow our way out of the pandemic. As our capital, London is the epicentre of these problems. It also has its own specific issues around transport and law and order, exacerbated by the current mayor, that need a fresh approach and renewed focus.

“Town centres like Croydon were already struggling before the pandemic, but are now facing extinction…. Parking needs to be facilitated and small businesses given long term rate relief”

In Croydon we have an epidemic of knife crime, a dying town centre and a bankrupt council.  What are your thoughts on the issues facing the borough?

The Mayor and Assembly should be doing much more to combat knife crime, starting with stop and search. This is where attention and money should be focussed, not on reviewing statues. Town centres like Croydon were already struggling before the pandemic, but are now facing extinction. They need urgent life support. Now that the vulnerable are vaccinated and Covid cases are falling, there’s no justification for ongoing draconian restrictions. Parking needs to be facilitated and small businesses given long term rate relief. As for the Council, this week we’ve seen the government send a taskforce into Liverpool to ensure key services continue, and perhaps Croydon needs similar drastic action. The long term answer is easier: don’t vote Labour.

The other half of the constituency Sutton, has a controversial incinerator and residents up in arms about parking and the amount of new builds.  What would like to say to the people of Sutton?  

It’s interesting that you put those first two issues together, the incinerator and parking. Why target and punish ordinary residents for needing to drive a car, while the incinerator down the road daily pumps out tonnes of carbon emissions? I want to see a more logical approach to the environment, with an end to the war on the motorist and a review into the appropriateness of the incinerator.

If elected how would you use your role in the Greater London Authority and what would you like to achieve?

The key role of the Assembly is to hold the Mayor to account and stop him acting as if London is his personal fiefdom. We need to move the focus away from cultivating the Mayor’s personal image, and back to the issues he and the Assembly are actually accountable for. Crime, housing, transport, and taking care of the unglamorous basics that make London a safe and enjoyable place to live and work in. I would also do everything I can to stop the mayor’s divisive statue review that is costing Londoners a million pounds!

“Ultimately, we need to redress the balance between the individual and the state. To establish the framework for a free and prosperous nation with a strong economy that will then be able to address other problems”

On a wider note what are you priorities for change in London and Britain?

Ultimately, we need to redress the balance between the individual and the state. To establish the framework for a free and prosperous nation with a strong economy that will then be able to address other problems. It’s also crucial to change the way we feel about London and Britain. To stop looking backwards and being ashamed and to start looking forwards with confidence. To unite us, not divide us along identity politics as Labour is trying to do. If we can change that, then ultimately the rest will follow.

How do people find out more and get in contact or involved?

Robert is on Twitter, and the Reform Party are at https://reformparty.uk/. Robert can also be seen discussing the Save Our Statues Campaign on New Culture Forum Channel.

Marco Di Paola London & South East Coordinator for the UK Libertarian Party

Marco Di Paola is the new London & South East Coordinator for the UK Libertarian Party.  Their sister party in the US finished third in last year’s Presidential Election.  We have spoken with Marco’s predecessor in London and others from the party.  We catch-up with Marco about what brought him into politics, and his thoughts and views for the party in London and beyond.

Marco, thanks for your time.

Can you start by telling us a bit about your background, and how did you became the London & South East Co-ordinator for the Libertarian Party?

I considered myself a Conservative until the EU referendum in 2016, after which I found myself appalled at how politicians from all sides of the spectrum were so keen to try and overturn a democratic mandate. I had a frustrating period where I couldn’t find a party that aligned to my principles and values and it was only when I took the Political Compass test that I discovered Libertarianism. I’ve been a member of the Libertarian Party for a few years and had started to contribute to the local Facebook Page when I was asked to become the co-ordinator for Sussex. A very short time later, there was a vacancy for the London & South East position and I was eager to step up.

“I think it’s unfortunate that the current mayor is likely to be re-elected based on which party he represents rather than his ability to do the job. From an outside perspective, all I see is virtuous posturing but little action of relevancy”

In May we have the Mayoral and GLA elections in London.  The Libertarian Party has endorsed Laurence Fox for Mayor.  What’s made the party endorse Laurence and more widely what are your thoughts on the upcoming elections?

The Libertarian Party strongly oppose all lockdowns so when Laurence Fox declared he would lift lockdown if elected, we weren’t prepared to stand in his way! I think it’s unfortunate that the current mayor is likely to be re-elected based on which party he represents rather than his ability to do the job. From an outside perspective, all I see is virtuous posturing but little action of relevancy.

We’ve had a year of lockdown restrictions, which should be fertile ground for Libertarians, but we see the Conservative government polling strongly.  What do you think is happening on Britain’s support for lockdown, and what are your thoughts on the past year?

Its been a tough time for Libertarians, that’s for sure! It’s clear to me that the government propaganda has scared people so much into accepting this level of restrictions on our liberties. We aren’t even able to have a sensible debate on whether lockdowns are an appropriate or proportionate response without being accused of wanting to ‘kill granny’ or ‘let the virus rip’. I personally don’t feel there should ever be a situation where government has this sort of power over it’s population but I could understand the argument more if all members of society where at equal risk of being seriously ill or dying from the virus. The fact is that Covid 19 is a nasty virus for some but the majority of people who get it will be ok. The demographics of who are most at risk are very clear and I really feel we should have looked at focussed protection for the most vulnerable as proposed by ‘The Great Barrington Declaration’. My biggest fear and main reason why I oppose these blanket measures is that once the state has these powers they will not let them go easily. This is evidenced now by the fact we have the 2nd lowest infection rate in Europe, continued falling hospitalisations and deaths and one of the highest vaccination rates in the whole world yet we still have one of the strictest lock downs worldwide! Boris’ roadmap is quite frankly a disgrace. How can it remain illegal to have friends or family in your own home until at least May 17th despite all the data showing that the virus is in decline and the vaccinated are protected? It is outrageous.

“We are only ever told about left vs right in politics and I think that’s for a reason; why would the establishment want you to know that there is a philosophy and way of being that means you don’t need them!?”

How do you feel the Libertarian message in London goes down, and what do you see as the key messages for the capital?

I feel its really difficult for people to understand libertarianism and what it really means. I think people don’t even know its a ‘thing’. We are only ever told about left vs right in politics and I think that’s for a reason; why would the establishment want you to know that there is a philosophy and way of being that means you don’t need them!? I think its important we help people see that a system that encourages individual responsibility, freedom to make your own choices and free markets will provide everyone a greater opportunity to thrive.

How do you plan to grow the party and extend its reach in London?

It’s all about awareness for us. Its really difficult to get any traction in the mainstream media so we are looking forward to the launch of GB News where hopefully they will be more open to giving a platform to parties such as ours.

We’re a Croydon based group, as you know our council has issued a Section 114 notice and declared de facto bankruptcy.  What do you think about what’s happened in Croydon, also would you and if so how would you, change local government financing?

It’s the fundamental problem with the public sector; they don’t have the ‘rudder of profit’ to guide them. There is no consequence for poor service because citizens i.e. customers don’t have the choice to take their business elsewhere. They are forced to fund failing organisations and receive a lesser service for it! It is illogical. Regarding local government funding, you have to reduce the size of the state as much as possible and allow citizens to keep as much of their own money to spend how they need. I really do believe that business, charity and volunteers will step in and provide what people need far more efficiently and effectively than any publicly run institution ever could.

I would persistently challenge them on all areas of spending and be unashamedly looking to reduce the size of the council itself.  I want citizens to keep as much of their own money as possible so they can spend it on services that actually deliver value to them directly

You are running in the Tarring ward for both Worthing Borough and West Sussex County Council.  What are the major issues facing the town and county, and if elected what’s one thing you like to achieve?

On a larger scale, the town will be decimated by the effects of lockdown and I feel people are really blinded by this due to the various handouts given by central and local governments.  I am a huge advocate of allowing private business to operate in a way that they deem appropriate for their own customers and not to have to answer to top down mandates. Equally, I encourage individuals to think about their own responsibility and enable them the freedom to choose how they want to live and what businesses they want to give their custom to. Locally, a major gripe currently is the increase in council tax year on year for a lesser service.  In particular, the county council reduced refuse collection to a fortnightly service and are now making it as difficult as possible for citizens to access the tip by cutting opening times and, bizarrely, introducing a process of attendance only by pre booking!  As usual, councils and public services treating its customers as inconveniences and you wouldn’t get away with it in the private sector.  If elected I would aim to be a thorn in the side of the bureaucrats on the council.  I would persistently challenge them on all areas of spending and be unashamedly looking to reduce the size of the council itself.  I want citizens to keep as much of their own money as possible so they can spend it on services that actually deliver value to them directly.

“People who are pro tax only ever consider it from a ‘rich’ person’s perspective (‘they should pay more!’) but I tend to think about how many of the taxes such as VAT and sin taxes are really regressive and disproportionately effect the worst off”

If you could introduce 3 changes to how we are governed what would they be?

Firstly, power needs to be devolved to as close to the individual as possible. It makes no sense to me that people with no understanding of local issues get to decide what is important and what our money should be spent on. Secondly, I want the state to be as small as possible and work towards a system whereby people have the freedom to make their own choices on what is best for them without being tied to certain policies and processes. Thirdly, we need a simplified and lower tax system. Its quite ridiculous the number of taxes there are and how we are constantly taxed on money that has already been subject to taxation. People who are pro tax only ever consider it from a ‘rich’ person’s perspective (‘they should pay more!’) but I tend to think about how many of the taxes such as VAT and sin taxes are really regressive and disproportionately effect the worst off.

Any thoughts you would like to leave our readers with and how can people get involved.

Politics isn’t about left v right any more but rather authoritarianism v libertarianism. If you value freedom to live your life how you wish we need to collectively stand up and challenge the rise of authoritarianism as this past year has evidenced how far we have moved away from liberty and truly being a free country. 

Marco is standing in both the Worthing Borough and West Sussex County Council elections in his local ward of Tarring on May 6th, and we wish him all the best. You can contact him at marcodipaola@libertarianpartyuk.com.   The Libertarian Party are online at https://libertarianparty.co.uk/.

Podcast Episode 53 – Roadmap to Freedom, Fishing, Cross Channel Illegals & Local Elections

We are joined by Mary Lawes, a councillor in Folkestone for The Foundation Party, as we discuss the Lockdown Exit Roadmap, what the post-Brexit Trade Deal has not done for fishermen and the ongoing scandal of cross Channel illegal immigration. We then chat about the upcoming local elections and Mary’s campaign in Kent.

Spreaker
iTunes
Google Podcasts

Podchaser
Podcast Addict
Deezer
Spotify
Stitcher
Castbox
iHeartRadio

Mary can be contacted by email at mary.lawes@foundationparty.uk is on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Mary_Lawes and can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/cllrmarylawes/.