Interview: Student Direct – Defending Free Education

“Education should be free for everybody –regardless of your ability to pay”

SO SAYS the man standing as the “Hazel Must Go” campaign’s Salford and Eccles’ political candidate in the general election later this year – here, he talks to Samantha Bradey about his dislike for Hazel Blears as well as politics, policies and The Pav . . .

A UNIVERSITY of Salford drop-out is not a typical choice for an MP. Then again, there is nothing typical about Salford and Eccles’ election candidate, David Henry. For a start he is 26 years old which, in political terms, is practically pre-pubescent. Secondly, he favours an Adidas tracksuit over a shirt and tie, and when asked which bars and clubs he frequents he guiltily replies that given that The Pav is “literally staggering distance” from his house, it is often his first port of call when he is out with his student friends.

He isn’t one to shy away from controversy either. His infamous publicity stunt, which saw David attempt a citizen’s arrest on scandal-ridden MP Hazel Blears last summer, was, in his own words “theatrical”. He said: “If she had shown her face, which she didn’t have the guts to do, I wouldn’t have actually performed the arrest. It made the protest a lot more interactive and gave it a bit of an edge. There were young people down there that had come out of housing services across the road, they hang around there everyday trying to get a flat off the council, and I was telling them about what was going on; some of them had been involved in youth council activities and wanted to come down and join in as well.”

Manchester born David is passionate about politics as a force for social change and wants to challenge indifference towards it. On the subject of apathy he said: “They [the public] need to be informed about how politics actually affects them. They need to remember they do have a say, they do have a voice and they do have a vote.”

David has been exercising his political voice most of his life. A youth group called Article 12 first sparked his interest in politics; he then went on to become involved with gay activism and human rights. “It was through that I became interested in local politics. For a while it seemed like quite a drag, but now in Salford it’s becoming quite exciting politically.

There is a real buzz about it and everyone around me seems to be involved in some way and I just wasn’t up in the new camp.” The problem among students is that politics just doesn’t seem relevant. David says: “I can understand where they are coming from, because one MP can not change the world; but if there is an MP who actually listens to constituents, and it’s someone who is growing up, studying in Salford, who has gone through the same experiences, then they become relevant.

Not like Hazel Blears, who is the same age as my mother, who got a free education like everybody else in parliament. I think people might be able to see there is a bit of relevance there. One of my policies is to scrap tuition fees completely and bring back free education for everybody, regardless of your ability to pay. There isn’t a single candidate standing who is making that part of their manifesto; not even the Liberal Democrats.”

David’s beliefs are at the heart of his reasons for standing as an independent candidate. When talking to him, you have the impression that he is genuine, which is helped by the fact that he looks you in the eye when he talks. He certainly doesn’t look like your typical politician, but that is refreshing given the horrific public perception of anyone involved in politics at the moment.

Following the massive campaign of hate directed towards Hazel Blears in the wake of the expenses scandal, the next MP for Salford and Eccles will need to work to rebuild people’s faith in politics. When talking about his manifesto he emphasises that it is not drawn up by an economist, anonymous quango, or a think tank. It’s by the people for the people. And he firmly believes: “If they had an MP who could bridge the gap, then people in Salford would be a little happier.”


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