Been getting a lot of e-mails directly from constituents lately. It's hard when there's a 1001 things happening, but I try to respond honestly and openly.
Here are two examples. The first was to the Royal College Of Nursing.
My colleague passed your e-mail and manifesto onto me. My name is Alan Wallace and I am the number one list candidate with Jury Team in Scotland.
My mother is a District Nurse and has been for over 30 years now. I grew up hearing of life as a nurse and I have seen first hand the difficulties that nurses face trying to deliver the patient care their training expects whilst coping with constantly changing management demands. I have seen my mother crying with frustration at times, so this is something that really does matter to me.
The EU does not have a direct remit for health at the moment, although there are moves in this direction. It is of vital importance that Nurses are adequately represented in Europe now, before legislation is passed. It'll be no good campaigning after the event. We can do much to influence policy over the next five years.
I feel that we cannot continue to fool ourselves with the faded mantra that the NHS is the "envy of the world". It isn't any more. A 200% increase in the money spent on quangos (over £700 million a year now) since Labour took power in 1997 has been money wasted. Politicians eager to make a splash in the media have meddled incessantly and all to the detriment of nurses.
I want to change that. I believe the answers to NHS reform are to be found with nurses and doctors, not with chairmen and directors.
I would be delighted to work hand in hand with the RCN to help heal the NHS and bring the best in European practice to Britain.
Most of all, I owe it to my mother.
This one was a quite detailed question list.
My Jury Team colleague Austin passed your questions on to me and I'd be happy to reply. My name is Alan Wallace
1) What do you consider should be the role for Scotland within Europe?
Scotland, whether part of the UK or as an Independent member brings a strong tradition of liberal democracy to the European Union. We should never forget that the Scottish Enlightenment has made Europe and indeed the world at large a safe place for democracy. The lead we have shown Europe and the lead we continue to show Europe when you look at the transparent and open nature of the Scottish Parliament is one that we need to shout about and hold up as an example. Scotland has an enviable record of integrating new arrivals whilst being tolerant of their beliefs and I think our experience here is something Europe can learn from. The fact that our politicians are arguably closer to their constituents than anywhere else in Europe is also something to be proud of. In environmental industry, charities and in our criminal justice system, Scotland is regarded as one of the leading nations in the world. So our role is to continue to lead by example.
2) How do you consider that the European Parliament should influence the rest of the world, particularly in relationship to issues such as development/ health and education funding in developing countries?
This is an area where we urgently need reform of the Common Agricultural Policy. We have import tariffs of over 200% on some goods from developing countries whilst the EU actively subsidises European farmers to produce the same goods. Sugar beet for example is subsidised to the tune of hundreds of millions of Euros a year whilst Third World producers of sugar cane face import tariffs. The best way to help developing nations in my opinion is to allow them to trade fairly, as full and equal partners. It is insane that we spend millions paying French farmers to produce sugar
when developing countries are desperate to sell it to us at a fair price. Reforming the CAP would be the single greatest act Europe could possibly do for developing countries.
3) How would you use the European Parliament to work towards better equality in life expectancy across Scotland?
We urgently need to look at why the NHS compares so badly with health care systems in Europe. We spend over £700m a year on quangos, up almost 200% since New labour came to power promising to cut quangos. In the NHS, someone contracts MRSA or C Diff every 10 minutes. 6500 people a year die unnecessarily from these hospital-acquired infections, that's 120 a week. In European countries, that figure is just 100 deaths
a year, less than 2 a week. We must stop patting ourselves on the back and telling each other that the NHS is the "envy of the world". It isn't and we can learn a lot from European healthcare.
4) What is the single most important issue to you in these elections?
Cleaning up the politics. We must bring MEPs and the European Parliament closer to ordinary people. We must be able to trust our politicians. As recent events have shown and the very reason Jury Team exists, our party political system is institutionally corrupt and undemocratic. We can't expect politicians who have spent their entire careers immersed in a culture of abusing power and money to suddenly change their spots.
If our politicians can't change, we must change the politicians.
5) What do you think should be done to ensure that MEP's expenses are probably and fairly administered?
The winds of change are blowing through Westminster right now, but the European Parliament is unaffected, despite being arguably the most corrupt and wasteful political organisation on the planet. The existing MEPs and the party candidates are serene and aloof from the furore in Westminster but they are complicit in a deeply corrupt institution. I intend to lead by example. I will publish all my expenses online every month. In addition, I will publish a schedule whereby people will see a month in advance what votes are coming up and who I am meeting with. Any member of the public will be able to post questions online for me to put to people I'm meeting with. They will be able to publicly indicate what votes are important. I will answer all posts. This is Open Democracy. This is real transparency. My hope is that other MEPs who are in marginal seats will see that what I do is popular and good for the
European Parliament. Being the people they are, they will be most attracted if they think it will get them votes.
My intention is to start a ripple. One man acting openly and honestly can influence those around him who will in turn influence others. This will in time become a wave backed by public opinion that will bring reform to the heart of the EU.
I hope this answers your questions Paula and thank you for going to the trouble of asking.
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