PUBLISHED: 12:31 16 November 2006 | UPDATED: 11:14 06 May 2010
A NEW contender for the parliamentary seat of Stevenage entered the ring last week when he was selected by members of the public after a Paxman-style grilling. Stephen McPartland, 30, beat Tracey Crouch to become the new Conservative candidate for the
A NEW contender for the parliamentary seat of Stevenage entered the ring last week when he was selected by members of the public after a Paxman-style grilling.
Stephen McPartland, 30, beat Tracey Crouch to become the new Conservative candidate for the town after being questioned in front of 50 constituents.
Mr McPartland, who lives in Biggleswade, is currently the agent for Oliver Heald MP and North East Hertfordshire Conservative Association.
He is married to Emma, 27, a primary school supply teacher. Here Comet reporter Hannah Gray gets Mr McPartland's view on some of the biggest issues of the moment.
What do you think David Cameron has achieved since taking over the leadership of the party?
"He has been a very inspiring figure who has motivated many people to get involved in the political process once again and encourage them to stand up and fight for what they believe in."
What do you think needs to be done to improve the state of the NHS?
"I think the Government has to accept that patient hygiene should be the priority and not political targets.
We need more investment in frontline services and the recruitment of more doctors and nurses.
Instead, this government focuses on recruiting bureaucrats, at three times the rate of doctors and nurses, and expensive reorganisations that just waste millions of pounds of our money.
The situation with our local health service is extremely worrying with surgical procedures being cancelled at the very last minute because the instruments have not been sterilised.
The financial problems with our local health trust has led to wards being closed, mental health teams reduced and I understand over 1,000 jobs are at risk across Hertfordshire."
What are the major local issues which need to be addressed for the people of Stevenage?
"Local people feel nobody really listens to them and this shows us why we have a lot of work to do in rebuilding their trust.
They want us to tackle the issues that matter to them, which are anti-social behaviour, more youth facilities, improvements in the local health and education services, tackling the shortage of housing and improving the quality of local roads."
What do you think of the situation in Iraq - should we leave as soon as possible or do we have to remain for the foreseeable future?
"I never agreed with the war in Iraq or Afghanistan, but I do not believe we can leave.
We have a duty to the people of both countries to try and finish the job that we started and it would be terrible if our retreat led to civil war and ethnic cleansing, whilst also handing over a large chunk of the world's oil supplies to Islamic extremists."
Stevenage is largely regarded as a Labour stronghold. What are you going to do to try to succeed where successive Conservative candidates have failed?
"Stevenage is one of the most important seats in the country, as the party that wins this seat normally forms the government.
The people of Stevenage will therefore have a huge responsibility in helping decide the future direction of this country."
# Former Conservative candidate for Stevenage George Freeman is now standing as the candidate for the new seat of Mid Norfolk.