Q: What does Moulsecoomb mean to you?
BARONESS JENNY JONES (JJ): I suppose it means a very happy childhood, because although we didn’t have very much money we were more or less the same as every other family around us and very few people had anything extra. It was also a place where it was safe for us kids to go out and play. It was a safe and happy childhood.
Q: Why is it so important for the people of Moulsecoomb to have you as their Baroness?
(JJ): I’m not sure it’s important for them at all. When it came to choose a name there didn’t seem to be any other place that had the same resonance to me. There are places I’ve lived longer, but they didn’t speak to me in the same way, so it was quite important to me to acknowledge my roots. And also the journey and distance I’ve travelled in a sense from a poor working-class household to a seat in one of the most privileged institutions in the world, possibly. It was very important for me to go back to those roots.
Q: Having re-visited, what are your thoughts now about Moulsecoomb?
(JJ): Well I’ve made all sorts of contacts that I’m going to keep up and I’ve committed to do some fundraising for Moulsecoomb Primary School for their Breakfast Club and After-School Club. I had a lot of old school friends get in touch and ask me what the place is like now and I’m going to try and get them to come with me the next time I visit so they can see for themselves.
Q: Why won't councils re-introduce rules around tenancies so that council housing goes to nice families instead of the current rules whereby those most in need get it so we end up with social housing estates across the UK populated by people who ruin places?
(JJ): The biggest problem that we’ve got now is that there just aren’t enough council houses to go around, and that’s mostly the fault of the Conservative Government introducing the Right to Buy. That was a disastrous policy. It would have been fine if, at the same time, they had given councils the ability to build more houses. But the problem is now – too few houses and lots of people needing social housing for a number of reasons. I think it would be very difficult to distinguish between good people and bad people.
Q: Are you still in contact with Ken Livingstone and what do you make of the work Boris Johnson is doing in London?
(JJ): I am still in touch with Ken Livingstone. We bump into each other from time to time and we groan about what Boris is doing. Both Ken I are conviction politicians and we really care about what we do and the policies we promote, so it’s very frustrating to see a Mayor of London who doesn’t really care. I think he’s wasted six years and – particularly in a green way – has set us back a decade because he’s forced through a lot of policies that are deeply un-green and undone a lot of the work Ken and I did when Ken was Mayor.
Q: What do you make of the Green-led council in Brighton and Hove?
(JJ): I think that they are doing incredibly well. They mopped up the mess left by the Labour Party and have forged ahead with all sorts of things.
They’ve put forward lots of policies that I’m staggered the Labour Party aren’t supporting, like paying the living wage, making sure that low paid council workers are getting decent wages. I’m very proud of the work they have done.
It’s been incredibly tough, especially because the Government has slashed the money available to local authorities which means local authorities are having to cut back on services that are there to support the vulnerable. So I’m a great supporter of the Green council.
Q: Do you think Caroline Lucas should be re-elected as MP of Brighton Pavilion?
(JJ): If you ask any politician, they will tell you that Caroline Lucas has been a superb constituency MP. She’s really has been concerned about the people of Brighton, not just the people who voted for her, but everyone in the constituency and I think she not only deserves to be re-elected – but will be re-elected.
Q: Do you see more Green MPs getting seats when people take to the polls next, especially given the Tories’ stance on issues such as fracking?
(JJ): I would love to say that there will be lots more Green MPs but I think Caroline might well be our sole MP for the next four or five years. I’d love to see more of them, because just having the one Green MP has made such a big difference in Westminster. But at the moment I think that’s going to be incredibly difficult.