Wednesday, 11th March found Third Space meeting at Designate@thegate in Matlock. Andy Botham came along to talk about his work as a Derbyshire County Councillor, and Cabinet member for Council Services. He explained how policies are debated at various stages and how decisions are then taken. With central government cutting funding to Derbyshire by £157 million, Andy stressed how difficult it is to implement cuts to services which impact so heavily on people’s lives. He told us that he found making cuts very difficult because he had entered politics because he felt so strongly about fairness.
Andy is the Labour candidate for Derbyshire Dales in the May 2015 General Election. He spoke about how difficult it is to get into politics if one doesn’t have the “right” appearance, or doesn’t stick rigidly to the party line.
Several people in the group were very critical of politicians for not being willing to give straight answers to questions. He believes that politicians should be honest, real and straight talking. But stressed that it leads to hostile headlines in the media.
Third Space members were critical of “professional politicians” , who come straight from “Oxbridge” to work in parliament, becoming researchers, and then advisers to M.P’s, they are then selected as candidates for safe parliamentary seats so they have a smooth transition to becoming M.P’s.
In contrast Andy along with several Third Space members said how much they admired Margaret Hodge, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, when she interrogates the rich and powerful about tax avoidance. All credit to her, she most definitely speaks for me!
Andy would like more people both to register to vote, and to vote – particularly young people. He said it was really important to “constantly encourage more and more people to be involved in the political process”.
Asked by one Third Space member how we could pray for him, Andy asked us to pray for “fairness”.
A most interesting, informative and insightful evening closed as our speaker thanked the group for inviting him, and commented that ” it was a pleasure to spend an evening having informed and intelligent discussion”.