STEVE Masters, running as the Green parliamentary candidate for Newbury, has been an RAF engineer, homeless, and is now a local campaigner and councillor. In the election, he is campaigning on the climate, support for mental health, and against austerity. 

The Green party would spend £100 billion a year on climate change, as part of a green new deal. Mr Masters said: “Labour are now wavering on their 2030 target … and are under pressure from GMB.” 

He said he was a member of GMB, but would resign in protest. “It’s no good protecting jobs in the short-term if there are no jobs in the long-term.”

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Waiting until 2040 or 2050 to get carbon neutral ‘would cost a lot more’ than spending on a green new deal, he said. It should be seen as investment, like the Marshall plan after the Second World War. “That’s the kind of existential crisis that climate change is.”

Extra spending on the green new deal should be looked at ‘as an opportunity, rather than losing something’. He said: “We can make a better life for everybody, not just the wealthy one per cent.”

Elsewhere the party has other radical policies, like a four-day working week, universal basic income, and using other economic measures rather than GDP like New Zealand have recently begun.

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“We need to look at people’s wellbeing. We live in a world of plenty and we’ve got all this stuff, but we’re unhappy as we’ve ever been. We need to readdress the whole work-life balance. You can’t have perpetual growth with finite resources.”

Mr Masters compared spending on the climate with when the government spent £500 billion bailing out the banks in 2008. He said despite the UK being one of the richest countries in the world, ‘we still have food banks and people not getting the help they need because the NHS is overstretched’.

“We have to bring the most vulnerable people with us. It wasn’t the disabled or the poorest that caused the financial crash, so we shouldn’t be burdening them to pay for this.”

He said wellbeing is central to the Green party, and ‘living compassionately’ for the planet, ourselves and our communities. “I’m not a new-age hippy but I get the effect of thinking about things in a more holistic and more environmentally focused manner.”

Mr Masters served in the RAF for 19 years and worked as an engineer fixing helicopters. He has served in Iraq, Kuwait, Saudia Arabia, Canada and Germany. While he ‘didn’t do much fighting’, he said: “I had a great time, and don’t regret any of it.”

He is also ‘heavily into cycling’, and following the RAF, worked on different bike races across Europe and America, including the Tour de France. In 2009, Mr Masters became homeless after suffering from depression and his marriage breaking up. 

“Having been homeless and suffered from mental health issues, the Greens were a natural fit. Everybody is compassionate, gentle, very friendly. Our campaign literature is largely positive.”

He later studied history at Ruskin College, which was a ‘reset mentally’. “It was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done.” 

Mr Masters got involved with the Green party just ahead of the 2015 election. He said he had never voted before he left the RAF, and the first general election he voted in was 2010. “I voted Lib Dem and was betrayed. So now I have student debt.” 

In several other constituencies, the Green party has formed an alliance with the Liberal Democrats, stepping down to avoid splitting the remain vote. But in Newbury, Mr Masters is standing against the Liberal Democrat candidate Lee Dillon. 

“Those negotiations were on a national level and Newbury is far from being a marginal. Despite that in recent history the Lib Dems have held it, they aren’t going to win. It’s not a national target for the Lib Dems.”

The Greens and Liberal Democrats, however, ‘work well locally’, and if Newbury were a marginal, ‘we would have been happy to’ stand down for them. But Mr Masters also said they made a large contribution to austerity, and were ‘complicit’.

The first-past-the-post voting system is ‘unfortunate’ and means ‘very few seats will change hands’. He said locally, the Liberal Democrats are ‘using the remain alliance as an excuse’.

“They want to keep us out of the picture. We’re not only a threat to the Tories, but the political establishment as a whole.” 

In West Berkshire, the Greens won their first ever seats on the district council in May this year, with three councillors, including Mr Masters. “

”We only focused on three seats, and we won three seats. There was no safe seat in May, had we gone for it. We were cautious in Speen. I’m confident that we could have won both seats in Speen.”

He said that success came from listening to people. “For far too long, politicians have ignored the very people who keep them in a job. What we showed is we are different, we are prepared to listen and to stand up to the traditional parties.”

Mr Masters said it was ‘absolutely important’ for candidates and MPs to live in their own constituency, and described the Tory candidate Laura Farris, who lives in Wantage, as being ‘parachuted in’, which is ‘disrespectful to the people of Newbury’.

“I moved to West Berkshire in 2001. Newbury and West Berkshire is my home. My children went to school here, and I live and work here.

“The Greens are here to stay. Other parties may mimick our policies, and one level that’s good. But we are not going to disappear. I will be the first Green MP for Newbury, not this time but it will come.”