AS Tatton prepares to head to the polls on December 12, the Guardian has interviewed all candidates in mid Cheshire.

Here, Labour Party candidate James Weinberg explains why he should win your vote.

Tell us a bit about yourself…

I am a lecturer at the University of Sheffield, lecturing politics there, but I grew up in Tatton. I live in north Wilmslow, went to Ashdene Primary School and Wilmslow High School and spent most of my life in Tatton.

After school I went to the University of Oxford, did my undergraduate degree there, then I did a masters at the University of Manchester.

I qualified as a secondary school teacher, did the Teach First programme that places graduates around the country to teach at difficult schools, and I did that in west London for the best part of two and a half years – teaching English and English Literature.

I then got a scholarship to do a PhD in Sheffield and was lucky enough to get hired as a lecturer after that.

My job means that I am actively involved in politics anyway – I am often invited to give evidence at select committees, I actually chair an all-party parliamentary group on democratic participation, I often give press interviews to talk about my research.

Alongside that, I’ve been involved in Labour since I was an undergraduate, for the best part of a decade. I’ve worked on four election campaigns, including the campaign in Sheffield Hallam that deposed Nick Clegg.

And it’s a pleasure, delight and honour to be selected to fight for the seat where I grew up.

Why are you standing for Labour?

When I went to university it was just in the middle and post-financial crash, and as a young person that was concerned with critical thinking – maybe overly so – I was dismayed to see the media pick up on the right-wing narrative of Labour being at fault for the global financial crash.

So I got more involved in local political debates at the time, and every Labour MP I met were upstanding characters, people who believed in making changes for the better and just doing it for themselves.

It was that value of trying to offer a fairer vision for the way the UK could operate that really attracted me.

Then at the same time the Conservatives came into power, there was the move to treble tuition fees which for that generation of people was a betrayal of education as a right and not a privilege.

And from then on it seemed a no-brainer that this was a party that stood up for what I believe in and stood up for everyone.

Tatton is usually a safe Conservative seat, so how do you rate your chances?

Well I’m not going to sit here and admit defeat! Earlier this year the Conservatives lost control of Cheshire East Council for the first time ever – that signals a sea of change in attitudes.

And we know here in Tatton, there are more non-registered voters than Conservative voters. That is because there are a lot of left-behind communities who just feel apathetic and that nothing is offered to them.

They are desperate for hope, and in the last three weeks we have reached thousands of those people who are saying they will register and vote for the Labour vision to give them a fairer and more just way of living.

My hopes are that we can give this our best shot to win and cause a major upset. In the last few weeks, the people we have spoken to – even the majority of Conservative voters – do not feel represented by this Government.

Boris Johnson and Esther McVey have taken their party to an extreme right-wing position that no longer reflects moderate Conservativism. Even if those voters don’t come to us, they aren’t voting Tory.

In Esther McVey you are running against a candidate who is particularly well known, and can divide opinion – is that a help or a hindrance?

It’s a massive help, absolutely. The vitriol on the doorstep is palpable for Esther McVey. As a politics lecturer I try to advocate restraint in our discourse, because a lot of us don’t understand the burden MPs carry, but Esther McVey has made a lot of decisions and errors that have led to that public image as someone worthy of vilification.

Certainly looking at her record – the bedroom tax is highly unpopular in Tatton, being instrumental in Universal Credit, she voted against a lot of equality and diversity legislations – these are not 21st century attitudes for British society.

Where do you stand on HS2?

We shouldn’t be wilfully committing to major construction works that damage our environment. The Labour manifesto has said HS2 will go ahead, but what we are also saying and what I firmly believe, is that we should review those plans to limit the environmental damage as much as possible.

Mid Cheshire Against HS2 has a large amount of research on this to show the environmental damage that HS2 would do locally – and I, if elected, would be urging the Government to review those plans as a matter of priority.

So the work can go ahead – ensuring we have a strong and functioning infrastructure in the north, connecting us across the country – but at the same time minimising the environmental impact of that.

Many new homes have been built in Tatton in recent years, but residents have concerns the infrastructure does not match it – what needs to be done?

The previous Conservative council has let property developers make millions by building unaffordable housing on our green belt, and that is unacceptable, it is something I would oppose if elected.I recently met with residents in Longridge to walk around a local area of outstanding natural beauty that is going to be developed on as part of the local plan – big houses, opposite a social housing estate, destroying an area of land that has been allowed to rewild and Natural England has said it should be protected for biodiversity

Those are atrocious plans and should be stopped. There are plenty of sites that could be developed, there are plenty of housing sites that could be redeveloped, and they should be our priority.

On traffic flow, the priority should not be to facilitate more car ownership, but focusing on improving public transport so people don’t have to rely on the car.

That is not helped when bus routes like the 130 are being cut. That not only disadvantages those who cannot afford a car, but it disadvantages those that use the bus.

We should be looking at innovative ways to encourage people to use other forms of transport or walk and cycle if possible.

School places can also be a concern for residents – with Tatton’s schools popular and the number of homes rising. How can schools be supported?

Our education system has reached crisis point. I went to Wilmslow High School, I had a fantastic education there, but I’m not sure schools like Wilmslow and Knutsford can continue to offer that when the pressure they are under is so high and the funding they receive is decreasing.

Before we can even talk about setting up new schools, and hiring teachers from a depleted pool of teachers nationally, we have to make sure that our existing schools are resourced to do the job.

A huge priority for me, as somebody who has worked in education for the best part of my career, would be to work with a Labour Government to reverse those cuts immediately and to speak to Wilmslow High and Knutsford Academy about what they need.

A&E performance hit a new low recently, and east Cheshire’s NHS services have been cut in recent years. Labour is promising plenty of cash for the NHS, but will that solve its problems?

The Conservatives will be quick to say Labour are throwing money at the NHS and it is wastage – that is a convenient smokescreen for what is a crisis in funding for our NHS. Macclesfield is no different – there are crises in A&E, cancer treatment, that is not an acceptable state of affairs in the fifth richest country in the world.

Labour’s plan and my priority is that we give the NHS the money it needs. That’s not about being inefficient, but targeting the money where it is needed most – hospital beds and staffing so people don’t have to leave hospital two hours after a major operation, so we have enough nursing staff to care for people, enough GPs.

These are not luxuries, these are necessities. And it’s useful to remember the Conservatives have cut public spending to its lowest point since the 1930s – Labour wants to restore spending to its 2010 levels, and a bit more in some sectors like health and education.

That only puts us on a par with Germany on spending – let’s reinvest in public services and avoid the myth that spending is wrong and to be avoided.

Tatton is a large constituency and residents at the Northwich end can often feel a million miles away from places like Alderley Edge. Will you be able to serve all parts of it equally?

I’m trying to meet as many people as I can. We are doing as many events in the east of the constituency as the west.

We’ve been door-knocking in Rudheath and Barnton, we were at stalls in Northwich, and I have met people living very different lives to some in Wilmslow and Knutsford – but their values and their needs are no different. So can I connect to those people the same as some in the east? Yes, because we are talking about the same values and universal rights we want everyone to have.

Fox hunting hit the headlines in our area last winter, and our police and crime commissioner has called for the Hunting Act to be tightened – what should be done?

I met with David Keane, we were talking about cuts to policing, but fox hunting did come up.

I think it is abhorrent and we should route it out. We must make sure those who transgress the law are properly prosecuted.

So I would support tightening up the legislation and providing more stringent prosecutions.

Finally, you have a day off – no work or campaigning to do. How would you spend your ideal day in Cheshire?

If I had a day off, a perfect day for me would be to get up – I love coffee, I would make myself a coffee. I would watch my beloved Leeds United at Elland Road, hopefully a win for once.

But then I would come back and spend some time with my girlfriend, as she probably doesn’t see enough of me at the moment.