Phil Andrews - your community's own candidate

Isleworth councillor Phil Andrews was selected to contest Brentford & Isleworth as an independent community candidate at a well-attended meeting at Isleworth Public Hall on Friday, 11th February 2005.

Residents from Isleworth, Chiswick, Hounslow and Brentford gave Phil their unanimous endorsement after subjecting him to an intense one-hour grilling on policy and strategy issues.

He will take on controversial New Labour MP Ann Keen, dubbed "Mrs. Expenses" by the London Evening Standard following revelations that she and husband Alan, who is MP for the neighbouring Feltham & Heston constituency, have claimed over 35,000 for a flat in Covent Garden under rules which allow MPs who have difficulties travelling to and from Westminster to claim for a second home to enable them to be closer to work. The Keens live in Brentford, just nine miles from the Houses of Parliament!

Following his selection Phil promised "a very big campaign". Announcing a campaign team which will include ICG Deputy Chair Paul Fisher as his Election Agent and ICG Chair David Freeman as Campaign Manager, he told the meeting that he was fighting to win, not just to make up the numbers.

"We're aware that ordinarily independents don't win general elections," Phil commented. "But we are not ordinary independents and this is not an ordinary election. There is a real desire for change in these parts and the ICG is best placed to provide it.

"The Conservatives have selected a young, inexperienced candidate from outside the area, which would suggest that for them this constituency is not a priority. He seems a nice enough lad but he is not the local heavyweight whom they would need to be serious contenders for this seat.

"The Lib Dems have a good, young local candidate but no real strength in the constituency. Not only did the party not win a single seat in Brentford & Isleworth at the last local elections, it didn't even manage to come second in any of the eight wards it contested. The fact is that if anybody is going to take this seat from Ann Keen, it's going to have to be us."


THE OVERRIDING PRINCIPLE

As a sole independent MP Phil recognises that he will not be in a position to influence national and international events, neither will he have the ear of the party of government. His emphasis therefore will be on issues of specifically local importance.

This, Phil considers, is actually what makes the ICG so attractive in comparison to the conventional politics of the establishment parties. "The strength of our argument lies not in my personal take on major national and international issues," he insists.

"I'm not going to lie to the electorate by telling them that if they vote for me I will be able to reduce Income Tax or amend the European Constitution.

"What I can and do promise is that I will be the constituency's representative in parliament and not the government's representative in the constituency. I will be able to fight for local people without having to check first whether my position accords with some Official Party Line.

"On so many issues our present MP has not supported local people because our interests conflict with those of the government of which she is a part.

"Where issues such as housing and development, transport and leisure are concerned I will be free to take a position which best serves my own constituents. I will also be free, if needs be, to change my mind.

"The overriding principle therefore will not be where I happen to stand privately on this issue or that, but my availability to serve my own constituents without any intereference from political or private interests."


SOME OF THE ISSUES

Notwithstanding the above, voters are entitled to know what Phil does think about the big issues. As ever, his views reflect specifically local concerns:

Housing and development:

Shortage of housing is a major issue, as the population gravitates increasingly towards the South East. The New Labour government's response is to build more houses on existing open space. Meanwhile councils in other parts of the country are demolishing perfectly good housing stock because they cannot find tenants.

In this age of internet technology, Phil believes it is absurd that the government is apparently unwilling to do anything to encourage a reversal of this ridiculous trend.

Meanwhile in strictly local terms, Phil believes in regeneration but only where it enhances the character of the existing community. He would do whatever was in his power to resist profit-driven schemes which rip the heart of our historic communities.

Asylum:

Phil categorically refuses to join those politicians from the main parties who play to the gallery at elections on immigration and asylum. "It is a delicate issue which the leading political parties variously hide from or exploit for votes," he says.

"If the government was more prepared to explain the facts - and, where necessary, to provide those councils which are most affected with the resources to deal with any resultant problems - there would be less ill-feeling. It is the government's silence for fear of losing votes which fuels ignorance and prejudice."

The Third Runway:

Phil and the ICG have campaigned vociferously against the Third Runway at Heathrow, believing that any alleged economic benefits to the area would be massively outweighed by the environmental damage and the effect on our local community life.

The Mogden Pong:

As a founder and active committee member for the Mogden Residents' Action Group (MRAG), Phil has been in the forefront of the powerful residents' campaign against the odour and mosquito menace caused by the Mogden Sewage Works in Isleworth which brought about the recent court victory over Thames Water.

"Come election time every politician appears outside the works to have their photo taken for their election address or the local papers, which is a credit to the potency of the residents' campaign," Phil points out. "However it is a matter of record that the success of the campaign thus far has been down to the organised community, with the ICG playing a pivotal role."

Lionel Road:

As a lifelong Brentford F.C. supporter (though not always as active as he would have liked), Phil is naturally enthusiastic about the club's intentions to move to a new and more suitable stadium at Lionel Road as soon as possible. As MP he would do everything within his power to help make the dream into a reality, and is keen to work and liaise with supporters and with the club.

Chiswick issues:

Although a councillor in Isleworth, Phil has taken an interest through local internet forums in the specific concerns of residents in Chiswick that their interests are being disregarded by Labour-dominated Hounslow Council, which seems to regard them simply as a "cash cow".

Phil is determined that his campaign should address these complaints as a matter of some importance. "No resident of the borough should be a second-class citizen just because it is perceived that he or she doesn't vote the right way."

Tenants' rights:

One major problem which Phil has encountered during his work as a councillor in Isleworth is the cynical attitude which New Labour has to tenants' rights, in terms of both individual service and of representation and participation.

He notes with dismay that existing tenants' organisations within the borough tend to be more or less the sole preserve of a particular political faction, with dissenters (real or perceived) finding themselves excluded from the process.

As MP Phil vows to fight to "depoliticise" Hounslow Council's Housing operation and to make participation in the community life of our estates an inalienable right for all tenants, irrespective of political persuasion.


ABOUT THE COMMUNITY GROUP...

For more information about the ICG, please visit our website at the address below:

http://www.communitygroup.org.uk


ABOUT PHIL ANDREWS...

Phil, 43, is married to Caroline, is the father of seven-year-old twins Joseph and Rosina, and was born in Isleworth where he has remained throughout his life.

As a youth he developed an interest in far-right politics and was for several years a member of the National Front. As a fiercely committed anti-racist he naturally regrets his past views and affiliations, however it was during these formulative years that he started to become involved in his local community. "It is so much more gratifying working to unite people rather than to divide them," he reflects.

In 1994, some years after he had first rejected his earlier politics, he became a founder member of the ICG, formed by the late Tom Reader, a legendary tenants' campaigner from Isleworth's Ivybridge estate. He stood for election as an independent in May that year and received a respectable 18.2% of the vote in Isleworth South.

Four years later Phil was elected as the London Borough of Hounslow's first-ever independent councillor, beating his New Labour rival by a mere two votes. Immediately he became the subject of a vicious "non co-operation campaign" by political councillors and even certain officers of the council who were upset that he had gatecrashed the conventional political set-up as an independent with a radical agenda for empowering the community at the expense of narrow and self-serving political interests.

Notwithstanding this he and two colleagues - Dr. Genevieve Hibbs and Fred Muston - were returned as elected members for the new Isleworth ward in 2002 with a majority over their nearest (New Labour) rivals of several hundreds.

As a councillor Phil has been at the forefront of several high-profile campaigns, most notably in recent years the sadly unsuccessful attempt to keep John Aird House, a residential care home in Brentford, open for its residents. In this campaign he was joined by Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors, as well as the independent ABeeC member for Brentford.

Phil is a committee member of the Mogden Residents' Action Group (MRAG) and of Friends of Isleworth Town (a PTA-type body at his children's school), as well as being a deacon at Isleworth Congregational Church.

He has also served as Secretary for both the West Middlesex branch of the international aid charity UNICEF, and for the Three Estates Residents' Association (TERA).

To ask Phil any questions about his campaign or to leave him a message, simply visit his Guestbook via the link in the left hand column of this page.




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