Two main points emerged out of the Vauxhall PPC hustings held at St Mark’s Church, opposite the Oval on Tuesday evening:
(i) Domestic violence is caused by poverty (sic) according to yer man from the Socialist Party of GB and
(ii) The Tory Boy standing in Vauxhall is a self-proclaimed “intelligent” candidate.
The Oxbridge chap (Gyln Chambers made a point of mentioning this in his opening address) then raised a bonkers question about why crime has risen from 100,000 reported incidents one hundred years ago, to over four million in 2010.
Um, population expansion, an increase in laws and probably more Tories with their nasty right wing policies to criminalise people who are simply having a good time.
But don’t let that influence your vote – these are just the ramblings of a non-intelligent, non-Oxbridge lone blogger.
But anyway. About those Vauxhall hustings…
This was actually a rather ace event. It restored my faith in local democracy and my local area. It also *shhh* gave me some confidence in the sitting Labour MP, Kate Hoey (I think we can lose the Tally prefix now – Kate took enough stick on the night from James Kapetanos of the Animal Protection party.)
Given the ludicrous assertion by Daniel Lambert of the Socialist Party on poverty and domestic abuse, it was also rather reassuring to find the only other female candidate, the LibDem’s Caroline Pidgeon, to be on mighty fine form as well.
Elsewhere and @VoteDrinkall of the Anticapitalist party confirmed his credentials as a skilled, and yes, an intelligent public speaker. Joseph Healy of the Greens gained my support as he addressed the local Vauxhall constituency.
The English Democrats failed to show up (not very English, old boy.) Likewise for the Bible bashing Larna Martin of the Christian Party. You would have thought that holding a hustings in a church could have killed two birds with one stone.
The man with the mic for the evening was Mike Starkey, the Vicar of Vauxhall (crappy TV sitcom ahoy!) The Vauxhall Vic (“I use to be a radio DJ“) rather liked the sound of his own voice, not to mention paraphrasing questions from the floor.
In true hustings tradition, each candidate was given two minutes to put forward their case to represent the good people of Vauxhall at Westminster. The intelligent Tory Boy boasted of his IQ and campaigning skills, and then blew it by uttering:
“Keep Clap’ham Swimming.”
@VoteDrinkall repeated his call to nationalise the banks and to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. In return, the Anticapitalist candidate pledged to spend the money saved on eradicating poverty from Vauxhall and building new homes. I rather like @VoteDrinkall’s connection between the international and the #hyperlocal.
Joseph Healy of the Greens described himself as:
“A community and health activist.”
He has the background and credentials to back up his claim. Healy called for a “new type of politics,” but added the disclaimer that a Green agenda is a radical approach, and not a Nick Clegg style surge for a voter friendly fresh agenda.
Kate Hoey (that wasn’t too hard now, was it?) proudly declared that she would stand on her previous Parliamentary record:
“I want to concentrate on the poorer parts of our constituency. My caseload is higher than most in the country. I campaign on community interests, and I help people who are not being heard by the local council.”
I wonder whom Kate could be talking about?
James Kapetanos of the Animal Protection party (I wouldn’t even try and Google it) stated, “a vote for me is a protest vote.” There’s some honesty for you.
“I want to stand up for the voiceless – the animals”
There was a bark to the bite of the Dr Doolittle type PPC:
Here lies the rhetoric for the rest of the evening. Kapetanos was content to avoid any debate, much in the same way that Hoey was happy to avoid any eye contact with her would be political nemesis.
Daniel Lambert (nope, not *that* one) of the Socialist Party of GB introduced himself as promoting the “ethics of the family.” Tory Boy’s eyes lit up…
“We all have the same, shared needs. Families function if the workload is shared. When this breaks down, families become dysfunctional. Life is good – it’s worth a look.”
I thought Lambert was also worth a look, until he disgusted the entire audience at St Mark’s with his casual link between poverty and wife beating.
Caroline Pidgeon of the LibDems completed the candidate list. Given her transport brief at the London Assembly, Pidgeon spoke of her “disgust” at the Northern Line closures. She recognised the Clegg bounce, but was keen to offer up her own abilities as:
“An incredibly hard worker and a strong voice to represent the people of Vauxhall.”
The LibDem drew the most applause from the opening speeches.
The Vauxhall Vicar then did his best Alan Partridge Aha! and
tried to steal the agenda offered a semi-religious question for all of the candidates to answer:
“What is your moral compass?”
Note the omission of the prefix of political. My
church house, my rules etc, but I was hoping that most candidates would offer an answer that wasn’t tied down to some bonkers fairytale approach that was somehow linked to the rather dubious (and dangerous) issue of religion.
Tory Boy played by the rules and muttered some twaddle about “family and faith.” @VoteDrinkall urged for “the whole of humanity to share in the beauty of the world. We want to liberate the oppressed people of Vauxhall.”
And the vicars.
Green Healy stated that:
“I am not religious but I am spiritual. I have a reverence for the planet.”
Hoey confirmed her faith, whereas the fox loving, Hoey bashing Kapetanos, stuck by his stock trade answer for the evening of trying to out-score an incredibly experienced political opponent with cheap (and crap) gags about fox hunting. He failed, of course.
The “socialist code of the morality of the market” was the moral compass for Lambert. I don’t think he was talking about the rather wonderful Farmer’s Market staged outside St Mark’s every Saturday morning.
Caroline Pidgeon mentioned a “service to the community” as her guiding moral principle.
But enough of the politicians, what of the good people of Vauxhall? I have learnt at these hustings that you need to sit as close to the candidates as possible. If you can’t see the white (and fear) in their eyes, then they ‘aint gonna get yer vote.
Rule #2 is to always get the first question is. People will think you are either brave or bonkers. Or possibly even both. This is no bad thing.
So… deep breath:
It was quite a rambling question, but at least it gave Tory Boy the chance to get rather confused with the population rise and the way that we interact with one another as a community. This man is an Economist by day. I’m not sure what he is by night.
A rather deviously framed question asking simply about “the triangle” followed, put forward with the distinct aim of questioning the #hyperlocal knowledge of the candidates. The background is the threatened closure of the Triangle Adventure Playground close to the Archbishop Tenison’s School.
@VoteDrinkall wasn’t fooled and knew his patch well. Much the same for Hoey who blamed the “council machinery.” You can see why I was starting to rather warm to our *shhh* Labour friend.
Education was next up on the agenda. “I am proud of what we have achieved in Lambeth,” stated Hoey. Rightly so. Education and the massive improvement in exam results is one of the genuine success stories in the borough in recent years.
Tory Boy demonstrated his complete failure to grasp the local agenda, describing Lambeth as “below par” (education, not PPC’s.)
@VoteDrinkall drew upon his own status as a teaching assistant, congratulating teachers and support staff locally, but calling for an increase in funding.
By law and every hustings event has to have at least one bonkers moment. The hands on head moment on Wednesday involved calling the Vauxhall Vicar a w****r, and then giving away the secret address of the *very* nearby cabinet member Jack Straw.
“Should Tony Blair and Jack Straw be put on trial for war charges,” was the half-decent, and very serious question posed from a chap at the rear of the hall.
My house, my rules etc, and the Vicar of Vauxhall paraphrased this to the watered down:
“What do you think of the war?”
A question is a question is a question. Politicians need to be able to stand their ground and answer these. Sadly they weren’t given the chance, and the rather excitable young man didn’t get the chance to hear a watered down answer, as he was led away for insulting a man of the robe with a profanity.
The clock was also ticking down on the evening, and so a fast paced agenda rattled on. Global warming – Hoey arguing a strong cause for local food growing project, Tory Boy pledging not to build any nuclear power stations in Vauxhall – phew. Green Healy had the upper hand.
A question on LGBT rights was aimed specifically at Hoey, who has a ‘questionable’ voting attendance record in the House over gay issues. Tory Boy shuffled nervously as Caroline Pidgeon mentioned the dreaded B & B issue.
A general question on the merits of global capitalism, and then the rather tasteless point made by Socialist Lambert on poverty and wife beating.
Save the best for last, and we finished with a rather fine question asking:
“If elected as our MP, and assuming that you don’t fulfil your cabinet ambitions [eek] – what would be the one piece of legislation that you would like to introduce in a Private Member’s Bill?”
A fine question, Sir.
Kapetanos finally caught up with the idea that the audience wasn’t interested in his continued Hoey bashing: “A law not to harm animals” was offered. @VoteDrinkall repeated his line to nationalise banks. “Legally abolish capitalism” came from Lambert and the Socialists. Green Healy stated his aim to create one million new green jobs through taxation.
Caroline Pidgeon put forward her policy of having a passion for fixing the social housing mess in Vauxhall. Tory Boy kept with this theme and attacked @LambethLabour’s ALMO’s. Hoey had the same idea, and put forward her aim to tackle overcrowding in the housing market.
Petty politics aside, this was a rather ace evening for local South London politics. The Church was packed at its peak (probably something the Vicar of Vauxhall hasn’t seen in a while) and the level of debate was excellent.
Given that Hoey will be returned to Westminster next week, I felt that the contribution of the other candidates at least helped to shape the debate and ideas for the next five years ahead.
Housing and poverty in the ward remains a strong theme across all parties. The sitting MP seemed to genuinely take on board the points form the panel and the floor, and hopefully will continue to fight this cause in Parliament.
An “intelligent” debate.