31 March 2015
In the run up to the General Election we will be giving you the opportunity to get to know some of our candidates. Our key candidates and spokespeople can be found here.
This year we will be standing in over 90% of seats in England and Wales.
Our candidate for St Helens North: Elizabeth Ward
Why are you standing for the Green Party in St Helen's North?
St. Helens needs change. We have been a safe labor seat for decades and I believe the people of this town have suffered because of it. Many social problems are rife within St. Helens and the current leadership has done little to improve them. What the greens represent, standing for the common good, is what we so desperately need here. The business-as-usual politics has left us with struggling secondary schools, overworked NHS staff and a public transport infrastructure so poor it's prohibitive. The Green Party gives me hope for the future of this country, the belief that we can make a difference to people's lives through positive politics. I want to bring that to St. Helens North.
What are your three top priorities if elected?
My first priority if elected would be to ensure the delivery of a public NHS, free to all. We have two fantastic hospitals in the town; earlier this year staff at both Whiston and St. Helens hospitals were awarded for the great service they provide for patients. We need to uphold these standards and protect them from the threat of privatisation. Earlier this week Caroline Lucas MP presented a cross-party 'National Health Service Bill' which will help to restore the founding principles of the NHS and roll back privatisation. Supporting such bills would help to maintain the standards of service and enable our hardworking NHS staff to perform even better.
My next priority would be to improve the broken education system in the town. St Helens currently ranks 148th out of 150 for secondary school education. The current town council have repeatedly failed to raise standards, their only solution being to turn any failing school into academy, which in my eyes presents a whole new set of issues. The Green Party want to end the flawed academy and free school system and I believe our plans for a complete education reform, putting teachers back in control, will benefit the youth of St Helens. They are the future of our town and we need to give them the best start possible.
Finally, I would crack down on zero hours contracts within the town. Too many people are struggling to get by on low wages and no guarantee of work, as well as seriously diminished employment rights. I myself work on a zero hours contract and I know how difficult and uncertain it is. Green Party policy to abolish zero hours contracts and enforce the living wage is something that will benefit everyone in our society as well as those here in St. Helens North.
What made you want to get involved in politics?
I've always been enlivened by politics. During the 1997 election ( I was the grand old age of 5) I made posters and banners for each party and stuck them round my living room. Back then I didn't really know the difference between the three (although I'm a life long man United fan so I probably supported the 'red team')
Both my parents were liberal democrats, my dad stood against Michael Portillo in the 80s! As I grew up I became more aware of politics and voted LibDem in 2010. My political heart was subsequently broken as I saw the party I voted for enter office with a party I despised. I was on the cusp of university and was upset that the students following me would face crippling tuition fees. So I vowed never to vote again and then promptly realised that being both black and woman too many people had died just to secure my ability to vote. I read all the manifestos and quickly found The Green Party stood for what I believe in.
Having just come back from an exciting and enthralling spring conference I am more certain than ever before that the Green Party are the politics of the future. And I want to be on the front line.
What's your favourite thing about your constituency?
The thing I love most about St. Helens North is how varied it is. It ranges from arable farm land to town centre terraces, where I live. It has a strong mix of working and middle class families, and a unique haul of independent businesses that add to the rich fabric of the town. It has some beautiful parks within it, many of which I played in as a kid. Most of all I love it because it is my home, I know it inside out. Every area has a memory, an anecdote, a friend. It was an honour to be chosen to represent my area and the next few months will the most exciting of my life.
Who is your political hero?
I'm going to cheat a bit here and give you two of my heroines. My first one is Rosa Parks. Though not a politician she stood for what she believed in and paid with her freedom. She is inspiration to all men and women, black and white. Her composure and her class displayed in a society that was rife with injustice, prejudice and hate should be a lesson to us all.
My second is Asmaa Mafouz, who played an influential role in the 2011 Egyptian revolution. Her bravery and determination led to drastic changes in the Arab world, placed before a backdrop of fear, hate and misogyny. For me she represents the spirit of The Green Party; having the hope and belief to change a political system, so it works for the common good.