I confess I am a big fan of hustings and trying to help organize these has been a particular priority in my community activist career. While it is true politicians often do lie, mislead, don’t answer the question or give daft answers, one can learn a lot from hustings (including from what people don’t say), but it is a shame too many among the electorate are not so keen. I hope though many will avail themselves of the opportunity now presenting itself and check out for themselves what the candidates have to say (see details below).
Two years ago hustings were put on ahead of the General Election for both the Southend West and Southend East constituencies, and I blogged about what happened (see here and here). These were well attended and well organized and I expect something similar this time around. The same people (more or less) are arranging hustings ahead of the June 8th General Election. While both set ups are organized by the churches, it is intended that even-handedness will be the watchword. Most candidates will be taking part, but in the East case, since the current MP and bookies favourite has declined to attend, it is being called “meet the candidates”. The hustings are open to all, and people are invited to submit questions.
I can’t speak for the West hustings, but this is the format it is intended to adopt for the East’s:
- Welcome, introduction
- Each candidate given up to 3mins to speak
- Questions. Each candidate is given the chance to respond – time restricted. Chair has the prerogative to ask a follow-up or press a candidate if they are avoiding the question.
- Each candidate given up to 3mins for closing remarks.
Likely, we all have questions we would like to ask. Though I reckon others would have a quite different list to me, if I were able to ask questions concerning candidates intentions should they be elected, these from the top of my head will be the questions I would ask:
- Which politician, living or dead, has particularly inspired you and why?
- Many Christians are concerned about their freedom of speech and conscience being further eroded and the proposed equality oath is an example. What would you do to allay concerns?
- What is the biggest challenge facing the UK at this time and what would you do to help to meet those challenges?
- There are up to 100 people sleeping rough on the streets of Southend tonight. What would you do to reduce that number?
- What do you think Britain needs to do now we are committed to leaving the EU?
- Given the ever increasing aging population, what would you do to enable the elderly to live out their remaining years in dignity?
- We have been living for several years under an austerity agenda, yet both Labour and Conservative have been accused of making promises of new services without balancing the books. What do you think needs to happen to deal with austerity and how would you tackle the national debt?
- The recent Islamic inspired terror attacks in Manchester is one in a long line. What would you do to prevent further attacks and radical Islam gaining ground in the UK?
- What is your opinion of Donald Trump and where do you stand in the battle between globalism and nationalism?
- What are your concerns regarding the future of Southend Hospital and what do you feel needs to be done.
- How would you grow the economy?
- If you had the chance to put forward your own Private Members Bill, what will be the subject and why?