David Stansell: Green Party candidate hopes to influence rivals on climate change policies

Ham & High's Hampstead and Kilburn Hustings at UCS Frognal on 02.12.19. Green Party candidate David

Ham & High's Hampstead and Kilburn Hustings at UCS Frognal on 02.12.19. Green Party candidate David Stansell. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

It’s unusual to hear a candidate admit he knows he’s not going to win.

Yet on Monday night at the Ham&High hustings, Green Party hopeful David Stansell admitted he wasn't likely to sweep to a shock victory next week, but added his candidacy was to hold candidates feet to the flames.

"We've got better chances of picking up seats in places like Bristol West and the Isle of Wight, and that's where our campaign focus is.

"This is about building a base of activists and support. This election has been very useful for gaining support and getting young people engaged here. It's less about winning, and more about influence," he said.

Mr Stansell said the environment has been a passion of his since a child, and is a keen animal rights supporter too, describing them as "peers". He joined the Green Party in the 1990s, being a dormant member until recent years.

He said he was pleased the environment is getting more attention in this election, but admitted it was a "difficult conversation" to have. He attributed to a lack of focus on the issue until now to "vested interests".

"Persuading people to do something for a benefit in 20 years time isn't easy," he said. "Now people do recognise it is important. The question is making stuff stick and avoiding these being more hollow words that they're comfortable with, for a tangible plan with committed investment. Whichever government wins, it has to stick to a long term plan to fix it."

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Like the other candidates in the race, he voted Remain, but expressed his dismay that all parties hadn't listened enough after the Brexit vote three years ago. His party has pledged to hold a second referendum.

He said: "We have to offer people a choice between hope or more division, and approach this in a constructive way.

"People hadn't been listened to in terms of their life conditions, and they felt that. We need to understand why people voted Leave."

The 57-year-old management consultant grew up in the South West, moving to Scotland when his factory manager father Patrick got a job north of Hadrian's Wall.

He attended Glenalmond private school and went on study at Edinburgh University, getting into politics through conversations over coffee with friends stretching into the early hours. He said that despite attending a private school, he is "not comfortable" with the system, believing it "entrenches entitlement" and is outdated.

He said: "They maintain and enforce societal divisions which I feel very uncomfortable about. They fulfilled a function in the days of empire when people had to be trained to go and run bits of it. That job is gone and we have to have a stance as a country which is more about leadership and management. That means listening and helping people find their own roles in society and helping them be fulfilled."

Mr Stansell gives a nuanced answer when asked about whether he is optimistic about the years ahead. He said he is worried about the short-term future, but is more optimistic about society in the long term.

He said: "People collect around visions with a positive values rather than negative ones. I have a huge faith in people and I think it's our job to give people something tangible and positive that they can work with and helps take them forward. That's our job.

"The problem we've got right now is too many people are fighting to get power and keep power at all costs. It's destroying us as a nation and society. We have to be more respectful with each other."