Ex-soldier makes his case for Wigan Council seat
A former soldier is swapping bullets for ballot boxes and making history as a new political party's first Wigan local election candidate.
Ronnie Clark, from Springfield, is the first person to stand for the chamber in the Democrats and Veterans Party (DVP) which aims to bring ex-service personnel into front-line politics.
If elected Mr Clark will serve his local community as he was brought up in Beech Hill and is aiming to become a representative for Wigan West ward.
The former member of the Royal Artillery, who served for almost 11 and a half years in places including Belize and Cyprus, has not stood for election before although he almost became a Ukip candidate a couple of years back.
He is now hoping the DVP will make something of an impact first time out with its philosophy that those who have served on the front line, whether in the armed forces or in blue-light emergency roles, are well placed to identify social problems and tackle them.
Mr Clark, 47, said: “I feel this party could do something. It’s a collective of people who have done the job on the front line, whether that’s the armed forces, the police, the fire service or ambulance personnel.
“When you’ve been working for the NHS on a Friday night or the police on a Saturday morning you know what this country needs, but the government hasn’t delivered.
“I voted Labour all my working life until I switched over to Ukip because I felt betrayed. It’s time somebody stood up for the people of this country, not just for political careers.”
Mr Clark says the party, which formed in February and is standing candidates across the country in the local elections, has a national blueprint but local budding councillors can then come up with policies suitable for their areas.
Mr Clark voted for Brexit and says he is concerned about the possibility of Britain staying attached to European institutions and economic mechanisms, particularly for local businesses.
The DVP is also looking for major boosts to industry, with Mr Clark describing the country as “a call centre” in desperate need of engineering investment.
Perhaps more controversially, the party also wants alterations to the health service so people would be charged for treatment if their problems were thought to be self-inflicted, for example through heavy alcohol use or getting involved in violence.
Mr Clark is also campaigning for grass-roots changes in Wigan West, saying he wants to see local communities working together much more.
He said: “Wigan West needs to come together. People don’t seem to co-exist with one another any more on estates like the one where I was born. We need to improve cohesion so people become more neighbourly again.
“There are a lot of issues and one in particular is the lack of responses to incidents from the police because they’ve not got the resources to do the job any more.
“A friend of mine was burgled and the police didn’t deem that severe enough to send anyone. To be fair the Government is cutting all these front-line services but they are not cutting our tax bills, are they?
“I’ve been out and about delivering leaflets and speaking to people and have heard concerns about everything from pensions and foreign aid budgets to dog muck and rubbish dumping. ”
In the May 3 poll Mr Clark is standing against Phyll Cullen (Lab), Jean Peet (Cons) and Nathan Ryding (Ukip).