When Jeremy Corbyn first stood for the Labour leadership, he told one interviewer that we could learn a great deal from Marx.
It was more surprising to hear something similar from the Tories’ newly selected general election candidate for Hove.
Except Kristy Adams meant Marks. She used to work at Marks and Spencer in Western Road, Brighton, and her first “proper job” was as a trainee manager for one of Middle England’s favourite shops.
On Friday evening (28 April) she set out her stall to the local party and was picked to run for Parliament against Peter Kyle, the sitting MP who won the seat for Labour in 2015.
Mrs Adams, 46, lives in Hove and works as a creative and business consultant. As well as the family loft conversion design business, Adams Attics, she has been a volunteer at a homeless night shelter and campaigned on social issues such as modern slavery.
Although something of an outsider on the local political scene, she grew up in the area and said that her family had lived in Hove for four generations. Her father was a business consultant and her mother an A&E nurse.
And she does come with some political experience, having served as a councillor in Bedford and chaired the local Conservative association.
Here, she answers 10 questions about herself and her politics …
How did you get into politics?
Because of a crisis in education, I went to a public meeting to speak of my own concerns and found myself echoing the thoughts of people in the room. Later the Conservative Party invited people from outside politics and women to join. I thought “maybe I could do it”. I like getting things done. At 18 years old my ambition was to lead a charity. My Dad was a business consultant and he had advised to go into business first to learn how to make things work effectively and then take those skills back into the charity sector. So my first proper job was as a trainee manager for Marks and Spencer. I think he’s a bit surprised my journey has led me to politics.
What experience do you have that makes you worth voting for?
I have run a company. My experience is from “outside politics” – in business, the creative arts and social justice. In voluntary roles I have worked to improve educational standards and raised awareness of the crime of modern slavery. So my experience is broad. I have a dislike of organisations being wasteful with resources and want taxes to stay low.
And what personal qualities?
Courage, compassion and connection are my core leadership values. If you want the truth, ask a teenager. I asked my son what he thought my qualities were. He said: “Friendly, compassionate, tolerant and considerate – and quite fun except when you are telling me to unload the dishwasher.”
What can you do for Hove?
Political priorities …
A27 investment – I will work with (local MPs) Tim Loughton, Maria Caulfield and Simon Kirby to finally see the A27 congestion solved, with a new Ikea coming to Lancing and increasing development in our area and neighbouring areas we must solve this issue and build the road quickly. The benefit of having a Conservative team working together on transport issues shouldn’t be underestimated and we have the ear of ministers.
Promote investment in transport to have a BML2 from Falmer to London – This a solution to the pressure on the Brighton to London line. Investing in another line means that at a time when one line has technical issues, the other line can take the strain.
Housing and development
I will initiate housing forums and partnership working between developers, builders, planners and charities to explore solutions to lack of housing and high prices.
Brighton and Hove City Council has a poor reputation for service with local builders and developers. Labour hasn’t tackled the issue and it frustrates economic growth. There is a new head of planning. I will give her time to turn things around and enable her team to improve their customer service but if she is unable to do this I will be holding the Labour administration to account.
People are worried about losing green spaces when developments are suggested. I would campaign for potential housing developments to be designed in keeping with the local area and provide green spaces and new facilities, including doctors’ surgeries.
Business and arts
Creative arts and creative industry – I would promote Brighton and Hove as a silicon valley for the UK. As we enter a new season I believe we will have many opportunities to grasp with both hands. I will create partnerships to provide more apprenticeships.
I will challenge the council on their high parking charges that adversely affect business.
If elected, I will meet with ministers and advocate for investing in quality standards of care for elderly and mental health services. I am particularly concerned about mental health services for children in schools. I believe it makes sense to invest in children’s health and wellbeing.
I will continue to advocate for vulnerable people through issues like homelessness and modern slavery. A 2014 Home Office report estimates there are 13,000 victims hidden and suffering in the UK.
How will you make a difference?
I will use my business skills to add strength to Theresa May’s team. My skills are in creating partnership working and putting people together to solve a problem. I won’t always have the answer but I can draw together the people who have. I think the MP role would give me the ability to do more of this and provide successful outcomes for all of us who live in Hove and Portslade.
For the last 17 years I have been involved with charities serving homeless people. Minister for Homelessness Marcus Jones suggested I work with him to tackle this serious issue and help people get back on their feet. I look forward to working with Mr Jones.
Modern slavery – I want to hold companies with turnover of over £36 million to account for their supply chains. Currently all they have to make is a statement. I don’t think that has enough accountability. I want all retailers to be able to look the people who make their goods in the eye and for consumers to know they are buying goods made free from someone else’s suffering.
Do you support the revival of grammar schools and converting existing schools into academies?
For me the priority is parental choice and having enough school places for our children. With the university starting a new school, we will have enough school places across the city. If secondary schools use sets from the age of 11, children have the opportunity to excel and have the flexibility to move groups as they improve – and sets enable children to work in a group of children at a similar level. Grammar schools have a place in areas like Kent where they already exist. I would have to ask parents if they wanted a grammar school. Two of my aunts went to Hove County Grammar School for Girls so we have had grammar schools before in Hove. Really it is about parental choice and I would support governors and parents in their decision to become an academy or not.
Why should people trust you and your party with the NHS?
The NHS is the fifth biggest organisation in the world. It spends £117 billion per year and employees 1.7 million people. My Mum worked as an A&E sister for over 30 years in a Sussex hospital so the NHS is in my blood. As a daughter of a nurse I understand the importance of respecting our fantastic nurses and doctors. You can trust me to fight for the NHS. The organisation faces many challenges and with quality leadership and management it has the opportunity to raise standards of patient care and efficiency. Simon Kirby MP helped secure a commitment of £485 million for our Royal Sussex County Hospital so the Conservatives are investing in the NHS.
What should be done about the situation with Southern? Would you like to see Southern lose its franchise?
Hasn’t it been terrible, the shocking disruptions to people’s lives? I was annoyed when it took me nearly four hours to get back from London but what really got to me was listening on the radio to a single mother crying and saying she had to work to support them but just wanted to get home to her child.
It has been a long drawn out situation, with us as customers paying the price. I understand there is not an appetite among ASLEF drivers to continue to strike, and let’s face it, a train isn’t going anywhere without a driver. And Southern now has enough flexibility in staffing to continue to offer most of the timetable. I believe the worst is over. I support any decision that means the hard-pressed commuters can get to and from work.
And I would campaign to have a Brighton Main Line 2 (BML2) from Falmer to London. It would ease the pressure and provide an alternative if trains are not running on the mainline. I will be discussing this with the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling MP and working with other Sussex Conservative MPs to resource investment into infrastructure.
How should we handle Brexit?
If people choose to vote Adams on Thursday 8 June, they are voting for Theresa May, who is our most capable leader nationally. We must do everything we can to strengthen her hand in the negotiations. That means voting Conservative. Since the Brexit announcement my business is busier than ever. Surveyors and builders I know say the same. Language schools in Hove that are normally quiet at this time of year are fully booked. We are a trading nation and it’s time to welcome the opportunities new trade agreements will bring.
I think of Brexit as an opportunity to develop a greater export market – and it will allow us to decide our own laws again.
Why should voters choose you over Peter Kyle?
Because by choosing me, voters are choosing the strong and stable leadership of Theresa May. By voting for Mr Kyle they are choosing Jeremy Corbyn and that would be a disaster both economically and a risk in terms of defence. We have specific challenges these days with Putin and terrorist attacks. Corbyn’s ideals may work for him but they are unsound for governing a country in a time of change.
Vote Adams = Theresa May
Vote Kyle = Jeremy Corbyn
Kristy Adams: Theresa May’s woman
Peter Kyle: Corbyn’s man
Is it really about us as candidates? I am not so sure. Obviously voters will want a local person who will represent them well but I think this election is about who will safely steer us through the choppy waters of change. The best captain for that task is Theresa May.
If I am privileged to represent my local community after Thursday 8 June, I will be a full-time MP.
Hove and Portslade deserves 100 per cent commitment.
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