My intention was to write a series of posts about the general election but I’m unfortunately preoccupied with a family tragedy and not in London (see end note). There was a hustings last night (30th April) where candidates of all parties addressed an apparently huge crowd. The @CP_Hustings Twitter account is worth reading for live reactions, and I’ve put together a report based on some detailed comments, from our own Dagmar and Monkeycat, and NHA candidate and hustings organiser, Rebecca Fox.
Excellent hustings tonight at the Liberal Club. The early arrivals were kettled in the ballroom whilst those crowded outside more comfortably had the first show.
Harriet [Harman] organised this brilliantly [Dagmar’s view; Rebecca Fox explains what actually happened]. I haven’t seen this done so well since the Chartist times. She is very worldly wise and put everyone at their ease.
Nick Wrack was big on anger, quite fiercesome. He has been very good at highlighting the export of the cheap folks to cheaper areas. He’s right — who will clean and wipe the arse of the capitalist city if they have to travel all day to get to these minimum-wage jobs? Good on Nick.
There were several candidates — the UKIP one [David Kurten] was by far the most bubbly and came over really well. Down-in-the-mouth, lifestyle lefties take note.
The Conservative candidate [Naomi Newstead] was great. She really does feel like a Camberwell/Peckham person. Loads of rent-a-sod socialists barracked her but she was gracious and decent about it, though you could tell she was proper SE5/SE15 fierce behind it.
The NHA candidate, Rebecca [Fox], was really nice but Harriet told her to speak up because they couldn’t hear at the back. This was a brilliant political move by Harriet. Anyone who says she lacks political sense is totally wrong. Both girls went to St Paul’s, the excellent girls school composed entirely of excellent head girls. So the senior head girl out-head-girled the junior one. This, to some of the salty old-stagers, was very amusing.
We can be proud in Camberwell that we have such good Labour, Conservative and UKIP candidates. There was a Whig [Felicity Anscomb] who I think is for the hipsters. The actual candidate couldn’t make it, he was on the way — from the 18th Century.
I missed you Dagmar. I honestly think we were at different events. Maybe sitting at the back, something was lost in translation.
At the hustings I went to the Tory candidate acted like a drunken, out of touch fool, who spent the night criticising the Labour council for using Tory policies to help sell off the Aylesbury and Heygate Estates. She may well have been sober but if only there were more Tory candidates like her. We would never have to worry about Cameron and his ilk getting into power ever again.
The UKIP candidate was pleasant but clueless, and struggled to understand local issues.
The best candidates by far were the Nick Wrack, from Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition, Rebecca Fox from the National Health Action Party, and Amelia Womack from the Green Party. Amelia was the only candidate all night who was neither laughed at nor heckled. I think that says a lot.
All three of them were the best prepared, understood the problems, and came up with some interesting solutions.
Harriet was patronising, couldn’t care less and really didn’t want to be there.
She even tried to say that the Labour party loved electoral reform. “Look! we introduced PR to Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the London elections. That proves we are a fair party who love PR”.
She then went on to say that every vote counted because even if you didn’t vote for her, your vote would be registered by Ofcom and somehow, as if by magic, Ofcom now have as much power as Parliament and can distribute the voice of all the little parties. Angry? There were a few people at the back who wanted to start a revolution right there and then and throw a few chairs. Me included. But I didn’t want to upset our lovely hosts at the Peckham Liberal Club.
She did try to re-organise the chairs around the stage though so we could all see the candidates. The words deckchairs and Titanic sprung to mind.
I could say more, but I’ll only get angry!
Thanks for covering the hustings on 30 April. Glad you thought it was excellent.
I organised the event — not Harriet Harman [as an earlier draft perhaps implied]. It *would* have been great had the incumbent MP organised an opportunity for local people and other candidates to challenge her and each other, but how likely would that have been?
I was shocked at the lack of hustings — both as a local resident/ voter and a candidate (National Health Action Party) and decided to do something about it.
There’s a massive lack of accountability locally — not just at election time, but at other times. Someone told me he had not seen a meeting like this in 40 years of political involvement in Peckham. I suspect this is because we are in a safe Labour seat but how can people be truly involved in the election if there are no opportunities to see and hear from our own candidates?
The huge turnout (440 at the venue, 700+ watching live on Periscope) is a testament to the desire to be involved in *our* election.
Please tweet @CP_hustings or email if you would like to help improve local democracy and put on similar events in future.
I’m going to be largely unavailable for a few more weeks, so if anyone would like to contribute to the blog or Twitter account in my absence, please get in touch (firstname.lastname@example.org) or, if you’ve contributed before and have a user account, please feel free to post on your own initiative.