James Hatts

Interview: Loanna Morrison, Conservative candidate in Bermondsey & Old Southwark

Loanna Morrison tells us she's doubtful about climate change, thinks the public sector is too big and admits that the Lib Dems "have done quite a good job".

Loanna Morrison
Loanna Morrison
Wordle representation of this interview generated
Wordle representation of this interview generated at

Last month we asked users of the SE1 website what they would most like to ask their local parliamentary candidates. We put a selection of those questions to the Labour, Lib Dem and Conservative candidates. Here's what Loanna Morrison had to say.

"I spent the first part of my childhood in Jamaica and my grandmother was really strict," says Loanna. "She was the kind of person you don't tell a lie to or steal from. She was really strong on education.

"I used to walk two or three miles to school – without any assistance – at the age of seven. She insisted that you must go to school. Education is an absolute necessity if you want to be anything in the world.

"So these Conservative values are intrinsic to my personality. I just feel that people should work for what they have. They should take responsibility for their actions. They should take care of their families and they should take care of their children. They should discipline their children and they should make sure that their children have a decent education.

"For me, the Government can only enable that, they can only make the opportunity for that. They can't make it happen for you without your input or assistance. It's a two-way street.

"The socialist ideology that I've lived under in the last 15 years has not achieved any of those things.

"More than a year ago there was a spate of killing among young kids. That shocked me to the core because that sort of gang mentality was just in its infancy when my son was 10 or 11 years old.

"They used to hang out at bus shelters and spray graffiti and risk their lives trying to spray their tags on walls that were too high. So it has sort of escalated really.

"I thought that I don't want to see another generation of kids going through that hopeless situation where they feel that life is so terrible or so bad that they can't walk on their streets without carrying a knife in case they get attacked or they live in the wrong postcode.

"I think that the reason why this sort of mentality has grown up in the last 13 years is because the education system is very unchallenging to boys. Boys like to be in teams and because school sports have declined so much boys don't have any way of sharing and getting rid of their aggression."

Cuts in public expenditure

How does Loanna view the prospect of cuts in public expenditure after the election?

"You cannot get a successful economy if the proportion of people paying tax is too small," she says. "The public sector is supported by the tax paid by the private sector. So if their aren't enough people paying taxes the public sector is going to suffer anyway because there won't be enough money to pay key workers – nurses, teachers, doctors, firemen etc."

"What's happened over the last 10 or 15 years is that the Government has somehow led itself to believe that it can employ the entire population and forget about the private sector. This is why we have so much debt now. The Government has had to borrow to pay people's wages."

She believes that even if the public sector faces cutbacks, new better-paid jobs will also be created in a resurgent private sector.

MPs' expenses and second homes

One local resident asks why MPs need second homes.

"An MP doesn't necessarily have to have a second home," says Loanna. "If you're only spending four days a week in London, you can rent a room somewhere or stay in a hotel."

"You don't have to bring your family with you everywhere. Other people who go away for work don't need a second home.

"Should people who abuse public money to enrich themselves go to prison?" asks another resident.

"I absolutely agree with that," she replies. "We are bringing in a system where the public will be able to get rid of an MP who has abused the system or had some kind of misconduct. The people, under a Conservative Government, will be able to get rid of that MP and I think that's progress because it means we have to be directly accountable to the people who voted us in."


A Waterloo resident wants to know whether the Tories will protect London jobs by ensuring that Crossrail goes ahead.

"I think Crossrail is a very good idea and it will bring jobs to the locality. If people aren't mobile they can't get jobs. On the other hand it is unrealistic to say that right this minute we can find the money to invest in such a huge project.

"We have to be realistic and decide how to proceed with this project. Shall we start slowly or shall we wait until the money is rolling back in to the Treasury so we have that investment to make?

"If we start doing projects like that now when the economy is in such a bad state, we'll have to borrow again. That's what we're trying to get away from."

Digital Economy Act

An Elephant & Castle resident asks about the candidates' views on the controversial Digital Economy Act.

"I haven't really been involved in this," says Loanna. "I really can't give an opinion on something I haven't thoroughly researched. Since I don't have that sort of information at my disposal I'd hate to make a statement that comes back to haunt me.

ID cards

"Would you vote to abolish ID cards?" asks a Chaucer ward resident. "Absolutely," says Loanna without hesitation.


Several questioners are concerned about the environment. David Cameron's gone a bit quiet since his 'vote blue go green' days. Where does Loanna stand?

"As everyone knows, since the climate-gate emails there's been some shift in people's attitudes towards climate change, and no-one is quite sure any more whether it's really happening or not.

"Even if it's not happening, I think we need to preserve our environment. There's too much waste in society. There's too much packaging, there are too many emissions, too much rubbish, too much energy being wasted.

"As individuals and as a society we need to think about the future, even if the climate isn't changing we are already wasting too much of our resources and people need to take personal responsibility."

Knife crime

A Cathedrals ward resident asks what their MP can do to tackle knife crime.

"We're going to cut the red tape and the bureaucracy that's keeping policemen tied to their desks so that they can be freed up to go back on the streets.

" I personally want to see us having a small police base in each ward so that they can respond quickly to antisocial behaviour or crime and get to know the area and the troublemakers.

"I want to see the education system challenge kids better and provide more careers advice and more support and give them something that will keep them occupied when they are out of school.

"I think the National Citizens Service is going to be quite a turning point in young people's lives. Once you've been away from home and done something really challenging in a different environment you see how much you can do. It builds your confidence and gives you a different view on life and the possibilities that you can achieve."

She also believes in stronger sentencing: "We need to send a message to young people that if you carry a knife and get involved in knife crime that you are going to be punished.

"Some people say that we should give them a community sentence and get them to clear up graffiti but I don't think that's strong enough."

Single 30-50 year-olds

A South Bermondsey resident complains that politicians ignore single middle-aged people in all their rhetoric about hard-working familiies, young people and pensioners. How does Loanna respond to that complaint?

"Actually those are the very people who have been neglected over the last 13 years. They've been seen as the cash cows – the middle-class people who have been taxed and taxed again. Taxed on their cars, taxed on their mortgages, taxed on their pensions, taxed on their savings.

"People like that will have opportunities to start their own businesses. I want to see tax breaks for them.

"It really annoys me that this Government waits until you are on the ground before they help you. I want to see people helped not to get on benefits ..."

Postal service

A Bermondsey resident asks what their MP can do to improve the local postal service.

"We've just been trying to get our leaflets out across the constituency to the 70,000 homes and believe me, I've had several complaints that either one home is getting too many leaflets or a home isn't getting any at all, so I sympathise with the person who says we need to improve the postal system.

"Because we're going to allow local people to get more involved in their local services, if something like the Post Office isn't working well, then communities and local people can get together and take over some of the services and make it work better."

Elephant & Castle

How would a Conservative MP support the regeneration of Elephant & Castle?

"The regeneration project is very dependent on large firms having the money – or being able to borrow the money – to make it happen quickly.

"At the moment most of it has stalled because we're in a recession. I think the regeneration is inevitably going to take some time because we have to wait for the economy to pick up and the will to complete it."

She calls for tax breaks for small businesses and an end to Labour's so-called "jobs tax" to stimulate the local economy.

Youth unemployment

What would the Tories do about youth unemployment?

"We're introducing another 400,000 apprenticeship schemes for young people, and on top of that we're going to do 200,000 mentoring programmes which means that young people will be attached to someone in work for 6 months.

"There will be lots of assistance and careers advice to help people get on the jobs ladder. There are other services that we are putting together like the fast-track Teenage Job Club to groom and encourage and prepare young people for opportunities that are going to be presented to them."

Most important issue?

A resident wants to know what the candidates believe to be the most important issue for their constituents that an MP can actually do something about, and what they would intend to do.

"I did a survey when I was selected as a candidate a year and three months ago in Chaucer and in Surrey Docks ward to find out what was at the top of people's agenda.

"The top concern that came out of that survey was crime and antisocial behaviour. Southwark is always very high up on the crime map. We have the highest proportion of young people not in education or training, we have the highest teenage pregnancy rate, our population is quite young and quite diverse. We have a very high proportion of immigrants.

"The way we're going to tackle this is to get police back on the streets. If police aren't doing what they are supposed to do, and doing it effectively, then we can't combat this problem.

"The second thing that I find is uppermost in people's minds across the constituency is regeneration, planning and the loss of green spaces. Every ward I go into this is a major issue.

"It's difficult to see what an MP can do as the power for these things is in the hands of the local council. So the more Conservatives we have on the local council, the more power we will have to do something about stopping selling off these spaces.

"We're going to give people more power over the planning and design of their local environment. Rather than this being in the hands of local government, we're going to give local communities the power to take charge of the local planning system and vote on excessive council taxes. Under a Conservative government, we're going to devolve much more power to communities and local groups in all areas of life."

Is Bermondsey a stepping stone to a safe seat?

Bermondsey isn't traditionally an area where Conservatives have found favour. Is it demoralising to be campaigning in an area without much hope of success?

"Not at all," says Loanna. "The first question is 'Where have you been? Why haven't the Conservatives been fighting all along?'

"I have to explain that I've only just arrived. In fact they're right. The Conservatives have never really fought for Southwark. When I was a Rotherhithe council candidate people were surprised.

"I've lived in Southwark for 15 years and I've seen the changes. The demographic has changed quite dramatically since I arrived. When I moved in to Bermondsey this was an even poorer area than it is now. It's improved over the years and the Liberal Democrats have done quite a good job.

"Nobody is entitled to be in the same job for ever. Simon Hughes has been here for 27 years. Sooner or later there has to be a change, even if it's just because he's dead.

"I haven't come into this for any kind of self-gain. If I don't win I don't win. But there's always another election.

Would she be looking for a safe seat next time? "No! No!" she replies. "I'm not interested in a safer seat. I'm interested in Bermondsey and Old Southwark. This is where I understand. The issues here are what concern me.

"Next time, if I'm selected, I'd definitely go straight back for Bermondsey and Old Southwark. I'll keep fighting for Bermondsey and Old Southwark."

• Visit our Election 2010 pages to see all the candidates standing in Bermondsey & Old Southwark

• Loanna's website is at

The SE1 website is supported by people like you

Please join our membership scheme or sponsor an hour of local reporting so we can survive

You can also make a small payment to say 'thank you' for this article with Tibit:

Keep up with SE1 news

We have three email newsletters for you to choose from: