As a charity the BRLSI isn’t allowed to be political, but we are allowed to provide a platform for election candidates to meet the voters. It’s become a tradition for the BRLSI Economics group, in conjunction with Unlock Democracy (formerly Charter 88), to hold these Hustings meetings before UK and European Parliamentary elections, and this year’s General Election was no exception.
Nine candidates are standing in the Bath constituency. One of them (Robert Craig of the All The South Party) couldn’t make it to BRLSI, but the other eight duly turned up for what was their third Hustings meeting of the week, chaired (like the the two) by the Editor of the Bath Chronicle, Sam Holliday. The packed Elwin Room audience certainly wasn’t starved of idealogical choice, with the three main parties joined by two independents plus representatives of the Green, Christian and UK Independence parties.
It turned out to be a surprisingly amicable affair, with plenty of disagreement on policy but little or no personal acrimony, while the mood was kept light by a good helping of dry wit from the Chair. The expected topics – Trident, the economy, electoral reform, the Euro, immigration – were raised, with responses that went predictably along party lines but also showed the candidates’ individual perspectives. Much of it could, perhaps, have been gleaned from campaign leaflets, but a leaflet (or even a televised debate) is no substitute for seeing people in person, especially in the relatively small space of the Elwin Room. If you wanted to get an idea of the candidates, as opposed to just their policies, this was the place to be.
Even at the end of an exhausting week the speakers were still keen to answer every question, with even the enigmatic A N On proving surprisingly articulate for a masked candidate (albeit one who gave most of his answers through the medium of pictures). One thing they all agreed on was that no-one could predict who would be Prime Minister in a week’s time (see video below). On past form Bath is, in fact, a two-horse race, but with the prospect of a hung parliament and a greater awareness of overall voting figures, every vote counts.
Question time for the candidates
As a special feature, Hustings Chair Sam Holliday asked each candidate to give a yes/no answer (always hard for a politician) to five questions, some of them quite awkward. See for yourself how they got on in the video below:
Update -The result of the election (held on May 6th) was:
Don Foster – 26,651 (elected)
Fabian Richter – 14,768
Harriet Ajderian – 3,251
Eric Lucas – 1,120
Ernie Warrender – 890
Steve Hewett – 250
A N On – 69
Sean Geddis – 56
Robert Craig – 31