THE County Gazette and Bridgwater Mercury has interviewed each of the Bridgwater and West Somerset candidates ahead of Thursday's election. Oliver Thornton is the Labour candidate hoping for your vote on December 12.

County Gazette: What experiences and qualities do you bring the table that would make you a good MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset?

OT: I have a rural background, I grew up in rural North Yorkshire and spent a lot of my time on farms and in rural communities. But through my studies I went away to study Law in Newcastle, and since then I’ve dedicated my working life to anti-financial crime.

So I think one of my strongest suits would be that I combine a good understanding of rural life and an appreciation of what matters to people here with the ability to speak the language of Westminster. I want to tackle things like corporate excess, tax evasion, because that is what I've worked in for many years.

CG: On the election nominations its been noted that your listed address is in London. Have you been ‘parachuted in’ to run in this constituency? How strong are your local links?

OT: My local links are pretty strong. You have to give an address that you receive bills to, and I don’t have an address like this in the area yet.

But me and my wife have been trying to move to this area for the last six months before this opportunity even came up.

Central Labour don’t really know who I am, I’ve come from the bottom up.

I’ve got a young son Frank who is 18 months, and my wife Katie grew up on farm just near to here and that’s my connection to the South West. Me and her both grew up in proper countryside and we want to give that to Frank.

I’ve not been parachuted in, I’m a grass roots candidate.

The local party selected my profile out of the list but I was up against six other local people including the mayor of Bridgwater and was democratically chosen after a Question Time-style event.

I know it does happen, in any of the parties, where they'll say "I've got a young buck and I want to give him some experience, chuck him in somewhere,". That's not what's happened here.

CG: What do you consider to be the key issues facing Bridgwater and West Somerset?

OT: One I am talking about a lot is connectivity. Public transport has been completely decimated here, you can hardly get a bus anywhere. Whether it is to go to a hospital appointment or just to see a friendly face, better transport is vital for the economy.

Another key issue is housing, not just in Bridgwater and Minehead, but also the lack of affordable housing in rural communities. Bridgwater was on the list in the 2015 Conservative manifesto where some of the 250,000 starter homes would be built, they haven’t built a single one, not just in Bridgwater but in the whole country.

Education is something which comes up on the door a lot because they have moved round here to an academy system and as a result people are feeling they have lost control of their schools in their community.

Another one, probably the most important one, is climate change. Flooding has seen people feel the literal effects. In the Quantocks the majority of people I spoke to said they are voting based on climate change. People have got kids and grandkids and they want to know that there is a future for them.

In Bridgwater we need to invest in a ring road, because you've got all this traffic, especially related to Hinkley. The traffic's awful.

Minehead is very disconnected from other places. Its beautiful and remote and the future of Minehead could be really brilliant, its next to an amazing coastline so you could see a lot of green investment in things like off-shore wind, solar etc, but it needs fast broadband, working buses and a train line that connects with Taunton.

CG: This constituency voted 60 per cent to leave in 2016, what have people been saying to you when you have been out canvassing?

OT: I've been surprised by how few people want to talk about it at all, I think we've got serious Brexit fatigue and I think the reason is because it has been chronically mishandled.

We've had three different Prime Ministers, three years of chaos and three missed deadlines. What people want to see is a solution. The advantage of the Labour solution is that it is quick, and the rest of our manifesto is talking about what happens next whereas if you look at the Conservative manifesto it is basically pretty empty, it just says 'Get Brexit done'.

When I'm talking to people, Brexit doesn't tend to be their big concern. They ask 'is the NHS going to survive?' because the UK government is already in negotiations with the US over a future trade deal to allow big pharmaceutical companies to charge more to our NHS from drugs which will cost £500m a week to the NHS. One of the biggest policies that is cutting through is the Green Industrial Revolution policy, people really care about that, and really care about the proper funding of education.

CG: Do you feel economic growth and tackling the climate emergency can go hand-in-hand?

OT: Yes I do. Our Green Industrial Revolution is based on the Green New Deal which is internationally-recognised as the way forward to tackle climate change. It is something the American Democrat party is pushing. What is means is we are shifting the way we currently subsidise and support fossil fuels which is billions and billions of investment from government and grants, and shifting that money into renewables and the green economy. A part of Labour's green industrial revolution is called Warm Homes, and involves essentially insulating everyone's house. That's because we waste loads and loads of energy through heat escaping through the roof. Its ridiculous. Investing in the Green Industrial Revolution will create thousands of jobs and apprenticeships.

Bridgwater and West Somerset has the opportunity to become a little green hub as it were. We've got off-shore wind, lots of opportunity for solar power and one of the amazing ones is our tide which has amazing kinetic energy, and with the right investment these sorts of things could power the South West.

Get to know your candidate:

CG: Do you have any pets?

OT: No I don’t ,but I grew up with two Irish wolfhounds who were great.

They were well known in the community and really cool.

CG: What hobbies do you enjoy in your spare time?

OT: When I do get a bit of spare time I enjoy Muay Thai which is Thai boxing, a bit of rockclimbing if I can, lots of outdoors stuff.

CG: Do you have a favourite film?

OT: Hmm, I always really liked the film True Romance with Christian Slater, yeah I’ll stick with that one.

CG: If you could have three dinner guests, past or present, who would you have and why?

OT: Oh that’s tough. I think I’d have environmentalist and journalist George Monbiot. I’d also have Sir David Attenborough because he’s just amazing, and maybe Marie Curie would be interesting to meet I think.