Wikinews interviews Jonathan Stanley, Scottish Unionist candidate for 2021 Airdrie and Shotts by-election in Scotland

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Monday, May 10, 2021

Portrait of Jonathan Stanley.
Image: Jonathan Stanley.

Voters in the Scottish constituency of Airdrie and Shotts are to go to the polls on May 13 to elect a replacement member of parliament (MP) to the United Kingdom House of Commons.

The outgoing MP for the seat is Neil Gray — a representative of the pro-independence Scottish National Party — was resigning to run in the Scottish Parliament election, which was to occur on May 6. Gray won the seat with 45.1% of the vote at the 2019 general election, winning 13.1% more than the second placed candidate Helen McFarlane of the Scottish Labour party, who received 32.0% of the votes.

One of the eight candidates running in this constituency is Jonathan Stanley of the Scottish Unionist Party. Stanley was selected as the prospective parliamentary candidate for this seat in September, after it was announced Gray would be seeking nomination in the Scottish Parliament. Stanley is also running in the Scottish Parliament election, running as a list candidate in the Lothian region for the Alliance 4 Unity party.

Wikinews spoke to Stanley about important issues issues both nationwide and in Airdrie and Shotts.

Stanley provided two links each alongside the answers to the first two questions. For the first question, these were opinion pieces written by him, and for the second, these were press releases from a think tank Stanley is involved in. Those four links are cited in the external links section.

The first opinion piece addresses housing, calling for, among other things, social housing to be restricted to those who have resided in the UK for ten years or more, a 20% stamp duty on houses sold to foreigners, and abolishing income tax relief for "buy to let" mortgages. The second opinion piece addressed a hate speech law passed by the Scottish Parliament, and said it threatened freedoms and "families['] privacy and security of their homes".

The two press releases concerned COVID-19. The first, published in late January 2020, called for mass flu and pneumococcal vaccination for high risk groups and the banning of flights to and from China, except medical relief flights. The second, published on 15 March 2020, called for a number of things, including the closure of the UK border, a national lockdown, Universal Credit for all during the crisis, a guarantee of essential utilities, and national procurement of ventilators.



Why did you decide to run in this by-election?

((Jonathan Stanley)) Unionism is building a Britain that puts our most vulnerable first and helps everyone meet their potential. As a doctor I believe Monklands A&E will close within five years now the trauma department has been removed. It must come back. Call centre jobs are vital to Airdrie and I'm appalled Teleperformance is shutting the office and working people from home, even spying on them by treating the home as a workshop. I have outlined my plans to protect working-at-home rights, to stop COVID[-]19 downgrading working conditions. Freedom is more important than any idea of independence. We cannot be independent if we cannot speak freely at home so I oppose the Hate Speech Act.

((WN)) What are your thoughts on how the coronavirus pandemic has been handled by Westminster?

((Jonathan Stanley)) As the Senior Researcher for the Bow Group, the UK's oldest conservative think tank[,] I called for a public health on COVID[-]19 in January 2020. I called for border closures, focusing on high risk patients, and getting Vitamin D sent out to everyone in the UK. There is not a single health professional in the British Cabinet and their manage has been abysmal, inept, dangerous and an economic disaster[.]

Taxis at Waverley Station in Edinburgh.
Image: Roger Wollstadt.

((WN)) What do you think needs to be done to improve transport services in the Airdrie and Shotts constituency?

((Jonathan Stanley)) The first priority is the urgent repair of roads as around 90% of passenger journeys are by car. In the name of equality, road repair comes before any further public transport investment. The Scottish Unionists resolve to be the most car friendly party in the United Kingdom. The treatment of taxi drivers has been a disgrace and money that was meant for them has been held back by the [Scottish National Party] SNP to ransom them in this election. The cabbie is the top flight provider of public transport. We back them 100%[.]

((WN)) Do you support the idea of a second independence referendum?

((Jonathan Stanley)) We are the Scottish Unionist Party, so no[.]

((WN)) Do you think the Conservative government is doing enough to combat climate change?

((Jonathan Stanley)) The Tories rarely approach a topic using evidence and economic sense. As a technically advanced economy with global soft power the focus must be on the promotion of technological solutions, not energy austerity. We favour much more nuclear and tidal power in the UK and to use diplomacy to drive up energy efficiency in the USA and pressure Canada away from oil sands which are extremely polluting. The WTO [World Trade Organization] based order on tariffs predates the divergence in global environmental standards we are seeing. We oppose any phase out in fossil fuels for cars and will let technology lead us to carbon free fuels in due course[.]

George Galloway founded the Alliance 4 Unity, also known as All for Unity, in July 2020.
Image: David Hunt.

((WN)) Why did you make the decision to also run for the Alliance 4 Unity in the Holyrood election?

((Jonathan Stanley)) These elections are close in timing but different in nature. A4U is about maximising the pro-UK vote with a crisp consistent message that voters can follow. We aim to remove the SNP from government and audit Holyrood. George Galloway has taken a team approach and invited the skills needed for a true turnaround team. This is the first stage in encouraging other parties to work together by leaving them to contest constituencies. We have made tactical voting our number one strategy and it is now the main issue of the election. That achievement is extraordinary in such a short time when canvassing was impossible.

((WN)) What reason do voters have to give you their vote over a number of other pro-union parties?

((Jonathan Stanley)) As above. Candidates were invited to form a team around a mission. Only A4U has sought to cooperate with legacy parties even when we disagree with them on many things, we are the only party in this election that is goal orientated. That's new and for the establishment it's terrifying.

((WN)) You left UKIP in 2015 over what you said was racism and bullying. What led you to the Scottish Unionists?

((Jonathan Stanley)) Elements in UKIP attempted to adopt sectarianism as way to appeal for segments of the Unionist community. Growing up in South Lancashire where Catholic and Protestants live together happily this was anathema to me. It reflected the divisive goals of the SNP and I have no patience with such cynical indulgent behaviour. I rejoined the Tories to further Brexit and left when they resorted to tribal blackmail over a second referendum to win a few seats. The Scottish Unionists are a British party that welcomes people of all religious traditions, always conscious of Britain's Christian heritage.

((WN)) What is a local issue that you think isn't being addressed that should be?

((Jonathan Stanley)) Monklands hospital is being failed as are so many district general hospitals where politicians want to centralise services and power to serve big cities where the votes are. Distance matters to emergency care. It's a matter of life and death. I've seen it when people take too long to get to A&E because they don't have a car. For a young mum with children or an elderly couple, a round trip in a taxi of one hour is very expensive night out. Distance punishes those least mobile. It's obvious if you think about it.

Steven Woolfe served as an Member of the European Parliament.
Image: Gibwriter.

((WN)) If you're elected, what's one thing you'd like to change about the law?

((Jonathan Stanley)) I worked with my boss Steven Woolfe MEP [Member of the European Parliament] helping a Catholic family in Liverpool trying to save their child Alfie Evans from having life support turned off. The hospital went as far as banning the child from being treated elsewhere and spent tens of thousands in court fees to this end. I saw a young doctor, [Hadiza] Bawa-Garba, destroyed by a pernicious GMC [General Medical Council] who used members' fees to pursue her to destroy her. So I'm going to support both Alfie's Law and [Hadiza]'s Law:

  • Alfie's Law, No hospital must ever deny the right of any patient, in any condition, to be treated by another willing and able provider.
  • [Hadiza]'s Law. No public or statutory body should enjoy unregulated funds in legal action against its employees or clients.


This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.