Retired civil engineer Tony Hughes has spoken to NCE about his campaign to gain a seat in Parliament in Thursday’s general election.
Hughes is running as the Liberal Democrat candidate for Rutherglen and Hamilton West near Glasgow.
His engineering career has been long and varied across many sectors. Working first in contracting for Taylor Woodrow on road building and industrial buildings, and Taylor Woodrow International on marine works Hughes then turned to consulting with Babtie Shaw and Morton focusing on water projects. He then moved into the public sector first as a traffic engineer for Strathclyde Regional Council then later as a transport planner with Glasgow City Council.
Do you think that engineering has influenced your work as a politician and if so how?
“Early in my career, I came to realise that most decisions on major civil engineering projects were taken by politicians. While working in the public sector can sometimes allow you to see a project through from conception to implementation, more often I found political compromises frustrating. I would love to have the power as a politician to ensure that well conceived and designed civil engineering projects could proceed unhindered to implementation.
“A lot of what I’ve done is transport planning generally. Promoting public transport and getting people out of their cars, pushing cycling. I was largely responsible from the council’s point of view for promoting the first of the off road routes in Scotland, which was the Loch Lomond cycle route.”
Do any of your policies reflect the fact that you were an engineer?
“Yes. Liberal Democrats are leading the renewal of Britain’s ageing infrastructure and recognise the importance of long term, strategic planning and financing to catch up on decades of under-investment, particularly in transport infrastructure. The Liberal Democrats are also leading on Climate Change and the measures necessary to adapt to it.”
“[On High Speed 2] my own view is that we should develop an independent high speed network of dedicated track with a limited number of interchange stations and that the majority of people should accept that we travel on local suburban trains to a high speed station to take a high speed train for most of the journey and not expect to get on a high speed train at a local train station.
“If we [Scotland] got two and a half hours [from London] it would make a day commute possible. It would mean if you needed to be in London for a meeting then you could leave at five in the morning, which people already do as they fly down, and be there in time. But you could do the same with rail and cut the carbon emissions.”
Do you think there should be more engineers as politicians?
“Again yes. I would like to see far fewer career politicians and many more politicians from all walks of life bringing their various professional experiences into parliament.”