What Steven asked Medway Council Leader Alan Jarrett
An exclusive one on one interview with the outgoing leader on his legacy, the Medway impact of Brexit, the strife within his group, what he thinks of our three Medway MPs, and so much more.
When I started writing long-form pieces for Local Authority, I knew one of the things I wanted to do was something that we hadn’t done before. One-on-one interviews. 60-minute sit-downs covering a range of topics, political and otherwise. Thankfully the first two big subjects both instantly said yes, and today we bring you the first of those.
I met Councillor Jarrett at Medway Council’s headquarters Gun Wharf, and he was surprisingly open. He answered all of my questions, about his time in politics, his feelings towards the leaders of his party, and the current members of the Medway Conservative group. We also discussed what will now be a post-politics life, with his announcement that he will be standing down not just as the Leader of Medway Council, but as a local councillor too. So join us and find out what he feels is his legacy, who has inspired him, and who should be the current Prime Minister.
Where were you born?
Tunbridge Wells in Kent.
What jobs did your parents do growing up?
My father was a farmer and my mother was a housewife. That’s the way it was then.
Did you enjoy school?
Some and some really. I went to a secondary school, Maidstone Technical School for Boys. It was a mixed bag really, because of various things that I won’t go into, I was probably pleased to leave school. Looking back, that was probably a mistake.
What was your first full-time job?
I worked on the farm, I suppose you can count that. Then I went off to work in industry, in plastics production and point of sale merchandising, right up until 2001.
Where have you lived outside of the Medway Towns?
I lived for a long time over near Maidstone.
Do you own your own home? What are your feelings towards the difficulties so for people in Medway with house ownership?
Yeah. Well it’s quite complex, isn’t it? Because my youngest son still lives with us, is now 28, and he’s got a full-time job and he works hard, but I don’t see any real prospect of him owning his own home, any time soon. Unless parents help him out substantially, but he’s not in a position to do that, or showing an inclination to do it. I think it is very difficult because, it was difficult before the cost of living crisis, it’s even more difficult now. I suppose we’re just gonna have to see how things evolve. I believe in home ownership and I believe in, basically, I believe in capitalism, it’s just more difficult. When I bought my first time, when we bought our first time it was much easier, the ratio of home prices to earnings was much much more advantageous, it’s now very difficult. There are various government schemes, like First Homes, which do help, but, it’s just tougher than ever, isn’t it?
What event or issues first got you involved in politics?
I had always been interested and always, because of coming from a farming, landowning world, had always been right-leaning because that is what that world is in the main. I was always leaning towards the Conservatives anyway. I joined the Conservative Party for no particular reason and then from that, I was asked to stand for the Medway unitary election. So that was my entry to it. I joined the party because I was instinctively a Conservative.
Why did you first attend Full Council?
I attended a full council meeting when I was elected. I joined the party in 1995, I went to constituency events, but I didn’t go to any democratic events at all until I was elected.
Who has been the best Prime Minister of your lifetime?
Margaret Thatcher. She had real courage, a real sense of purpose. Whether people liked her or loved her, she had real courage with the Falklands War, a real sense of purpose, an example I can give you is the miner’s strike. Just a really gutsy lady and I like to think some of my attitudes and some of the things I do are motivated by watching her premiership.
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