Neil Blackburn, the Pirate Party parliamentary candidate for Manchester Central, has made it clear that he considers the level of homelessness in Manchester to be a central issue in the campaign.
As a stay at home dad, which he describes as the best job anyone could have, Neil has spent a lot of time out and about with his son. He has seen the city at its best, and at its worst: drunken violence, drug abuse and addiction, homelessness, and lately the zombie plague that spice has brought. These issues are obvious to anyone who is truly part of Manchester and views the city as a whole.
"The challenge of homelessness is one we must tackle at the local and national level," says Neil, "and a combination of policies and approaches are needed.
"We must increase the minimum wage so that those with jobs can bring in more money than it costs to live. We must rationalise student loans and remove tuition fees so that students do not start their working careers with debts that will hang over them for most, if not all, of their lives. We must make affordable homes available through social housing projects that truly deliver the housing stock that is needed rather than pandering to the developers by allowing them to concentrate on lucrative appartment blocks for students and professional as is currently the case with all of the new-build in Manchester. And we must make it easier for people to access services without a fixed address so that the 'unseen homeless' who move from couch to couch, from one friend's house to another, can get the health care, mental welfare, and social services to which they are entitled."
The Pirate Party's election manifesto is built on its seven core principles. These include: Human Dignity is inviloable. Each of us has a right to life and to live, to freedom of thought and self determination, and to participate in society. and also To be free to participate in society everyone must have access to justice, education and such services and infrastructure required for life within it.
These principles were part of what attracted Neil to the Pirate Party. "But," he says, "...our Government is letting us down. Our society is not being supported, and the most vulnerable are being excluded." Neil hopes that this election will offer an opportunity to discuss the dangers facing central Manchester and will not be focused solely on narrow debates such as Brexit. He believes that traditional inter-party squabbling overlooks the needs of the local community, and he encourages everyone who is eligible - young or old, rich or poor, with or without a permanent home - to register to vote, to engage in the discussions, and to vote according to their principles and beliefs.
About Pirate Party UK The Pirate Party in the UK is a fledgling political party. It has fielded a few candidates in European and National elections, but like most small parties it is significantly constrained by the UK electoral system. Despite this, the Pirate Party has started to poll along side major parties and is looking to build support from the grassroots.
The party is standing 10 candidates in the June 2017 General Election.