|Liberal Democrat Joe Bourke Wants To Be 'The Third Man'|
Local candidate says his party has a role to play in government
Liberal Democrat candidate Joe Bourke is not worried about the fact that he is unlikely to win the Westminster seat in the forthcoming election. He is hoping to come in third place and says he hopes the Lib Dems can continue as a 'moderating' influence' in government.
"The Lib Dems are the only party who can break the Tory/Labour cartel by giving Britain a government representing the majority of people voting in the 2015 Election. The more Lib Dem MPs, (including here in Brentford & Isleworth), the greater the chance of a coalition government where Lib Dems can act as a break on the Tories or Labour."
An accountant by profession, Brentford-based Joe was born in Limerick to Irish parents who came to live in the UK when he was aged four. He grew up in Southall and went to grammer school in Harrow.
After a stint working in Acton in his early twenties, Joe lived in America for 12 years, and spent three years in Japan. He returned to the UK when he was forty and settled in Brentford to raise a family. He became involved in local community life, as a school governor, and a director of Brentford F.C, and the trust, and other organisations, lobbying for the new football stadium and then getting involved in local politics.
He wasn't long joined the Liberal Democrats when he was chosen as a candidate in 2008 in the Dagenham & Rainham constituency after the Lib Dem's original choice pulled out.It was "a baptism of fire", at a time when the BNP were very active in the area but he pulled 8.6% of the vote, which gave him the impetus to carry on.
"It's like a lot of things in life. I never expected to go into politics but I started helping out and then found myself immersed in local politics"
In the last election, the Liberal Democrats won 23.7 % of the vote in Brentford & Isleworth, riding the wave of the national swing towards a party which found itself in coalition with the Conservatives. Things have changed as a result of what he calls " unpopular policies " but he expects that he may get 9-10% of the vote in the constituency next week- hoping to come in third place.
Joe believes that the Liberal Democrats did have a significant impact while in government. If the UK used the Proportional Representation or Single Transferrable vote system which the Liberal Democrats advocate, they would have a far greater presence, he believes. The Lib Dems would also lower the voting age to sixteen, and have an elected House of Lords.
"This time around we could have more votes than the SNP but have fewer than half of the seats". But he denies that voting for a Liberal Democrat candidate is a "wasted vote".
"I would turn that around and say that voting for the Conservatives ia a waste as I don't think they will get a majority. It's the nature of the system here to have a first past the post but the problem is that a lot of people find that annoying. If you have a third party at least it gives an alternative and we are a centrist party".
Joe admits that he has not been seen campaigning much in Chiswick although he did attend the hustings at Christ Church Turnham Green. He says he cannot compete with the resources of the bigger parties.
"The main difference between this election and the last is that a lot of time is spent on social media, particularly replying to hundreds of emails. A lot of time is spent on social media which I think has replaced the traditional door knocking canvass."
"In Brentford & Isleworth the election is assumed to be a foregone conclusion . The Conservative vote in Brentford and Isleworth has fallen back considerably since 2010. Historically, Labour has and continues to take votes and voters in Brentford and Isleworth for granted.It doesn't have to be that way. There is a sensible proven realistic alternative - the Liberal Democrats."
He believes that he demographics of the constituency are changing with the housing developments along the riverside in Brentford.
"We're getting some good support in this area around Syon, Brentford and we hope to build on the success in future elections".
Joe was in favour of the Brentford Stadium development which has been highly unpopular in Chiswick. "Any development of that size is bound to be controversial", he says but adds that the housing shortage is criticial in London.
Joe says he feels there is a degree of apathy about the election. The main feedback he gets from local voters are on issues of the economy, hospital A & E closures, and Heathrow Airport. School places are a worry for local people, and also creating jobs for young people. He has also campaigned against littering and fly tipping in his area.
He believes that the NHS is a critical issue. "We need some real political will to push changes through, with ageing populations and the strain on A & E, we need to integrate hospital care and social care, and I also think the area of mental health needs to be addressed in line with physical care."
On Heathrow - the Liberal Democrats are opposed to airport expansion in the South East.
On Housing -the Lib Dems plan to build 275,000 more affordable homes by 2020 and to support tenants in the private rented sector. They plan a ' flexi lease' to allow tenants to agree longer tenancies and give councils greater freedoms over landlord licensing schemes.
On Helping Small Businesses, the Lib Dems would roll out high-speed broadband and reduce EU 'red tape' and exempt small businesses from EU rules.
On Schools - the Lib Dems would give local authorities responsibility for local school places planning. They are not in favour of the Conservatives support for more Free Schools and say new schools should only be built where there is a shortfall of places.
Immigration - The Lib Dems do not believe on a cap on immigration but say Britain should be closed to those who abuse the system and they want proper border checks.
Trident - The Lib Dems say' No to like-for-like Trident replacement
Overall how would he sum up the contribution of the Liberal Democrat's?
"Maintaining a balance with the emphasis on social justice"
The general election takes place on May 7th. The candidates for the Brentford & Isleworth constituency are: Joseph Bourke (Liberal Democrat), Ruth Cadbury (Labour), Daniel Goldsmith (Green Party ), Richard Hendron (UKIP), Mary Macleod (Conservative
May 1, 2015