No, really, I didn't expect a tin pot party consisting of superannuated xenophobes like UKIP to bother responding to my election questions. And the BNP and Greens aren't standing, despite their followers rather optimistically voting in my election poll on the right.
But I had rather hoped the Lib Dems would get back to me. I've had nothing from their nameless, faceless candidate for Thanet North, but two days after the deadline I finally received answers from the Thanet South candidate Peter Buttkiss [Not sure if that's the correct spelling - Ed].
What with him turning up 90 minutes late to the hustings in Boredstares, and now 48 hours late for my Election Question Time, you've got to wonder whether, if he was elected, he'd turn up in time for the opening of Parliament!
I've always found the Lib Dem party machine to be more of a cranky old grid than a Ferrari, but to be fair the Lib Dems don't have Lord Cashcroft's or Unite's millions to buy one with. Anyway, here's Mr Buttlick's responses:
1. Do you support repealing the ban on foxhunting?
Liberal Democrats have no plans to repeal this ban and the hunts seem in rude health despite their pre-act forecast of doom. I see no reason to change the status quo.
2. Do you support night flights from Manston airport?
Liberal Democrats believe that there is a fine balance to be struck between improving the economic prosperity of the area and protecting people’s quality of life and the environment. That’s why we propose a review of this policy in consultation with a cross-section of the local people this decision would affect. As I have said, such decisions will not be popular with all, and must also be fair to those whose interests are at risk.
3. What is the single most effective measure you would support to reduce crime, unemployment and deprivation on the island?
Education improvements. This comes back to my personal stance on education which is also fully compliant with the Liberal Democrats’ radical plans to invest extra money in schools. This will give every child a fair chance and break the cycle of deprivation.
We will invest an extra £2.5bn in schools through a Pupil Premium that will raise funding for the poorest pupils to private school levels. The money will be targeted at schools taking on children who need more help, but will benefit every child in every school. The cash can be used to cut class sizes and provide one-to-one tuition or catch-up classes, ensuring every child gets the individual attention they need.
Figures are available for the predicted amount of money each local authority will receive, and can be calculated for individual schools. However, an average primary school could cut class sizes to 20. An average secondary school could see classes of just 16.
The Pupil Premium would be available to the school which each disadvantaged pupil attended. It would be attached to the million children with the highest levels of disadvantage. The Pupil Premium would be set nationally and it would top up a national per pupil base funding figure. It will raise the poorest children’s school funding to private school levels, with the average school receiving around £2500 extra for every child entitled to free school meals on their roll. Head teachers would be free to spend the money as they see fit, to raise standards in their school.