admin, 6:39 pm, Thursday, 26 April, 2012Follow @TheWestLondoner
Good evening all – this is tonight’s liveblog covering a hustings for the election candidates for the West London “super constituency” of Hillingdon and Ealing. Refresh this page (by pressing F5) for updates.
Compere’ing the event is Peter Smallwood, the incoming Vice President Academic Representation of the Union of Brunel Students and a member of Conservative Future.
Labour were not able to bring their GLA candidate for Hillingdon and Ealing to this meeting. Taking part are Richard Barnes from the Conservatives, Helen Knight from UKIP, Mike Cox from the Lib Dems and Mike Carling from the Greens.
2104: And that’s the end of the meeting. Yours truly is off for a drink! – Gaz, editor.
2100: Closing speeches.
Richard Barnes from the Conservatives: “We’ve seen what happens with Ken Livingstone in the past. Given four more years Boris can make us one London which we should be.”
Mike Cox from the Lib Dems: “Please vote Mike Cox for Ealing and Hillingdon! Brian Paddick is the only choice for Mayor. I stood on a platform with the deputy leader of the Labour Party who said the Liberal democrats were great – please vote Lib Dem.”
Mike Carling from the Greens: “I’ll request that people consider the Green party. what we talk about is positive. I’ve talked about equality and how London is an unequal society. I think the Greens can do a lot about that. We’ve got a lot to offer. The two assembly members we’ve had for the last few years have done a great job.”
Helen Knight from UKIP “I urge you to use your first and second choices for mayor wisely. Stick to what you believe in, try and forget tribalism and please vote.”
Richard Barnes from the Conservatives: “The Conservative Party will never win in certain Labour places, so we withdrew. Labour assumed that they’ve always voted Labour and they’ll vote Labour again. There was resentment, there were housing issues, and extremist parties will take advantage of weaknesses. To be quite honest, if you put their collective brains together they wouldn’t have filled a bucket. They saw that gap and they exploited that gap, and the two main parties let them. The three recognised lead parties – Conservative, Labour and Lib Dem – need to fill that gap. The fringe parties like UKIP just pander to that.”
Mike Cox from the Greens: “If you read the national press, the Daily Star, the Daily Mail, they sell papers based on paranoia. You don’t get positive stories about immigrants, or all sorts of marginalised groups.When the BNP candidates used to go round they talked rubbish about housing lists. The BNP were out saying ‘It’s right what the Daily Mail says’ and I think the popular press have a lot to answer for in stoking up tensions.”
Helen Knight: “We don’t allow any ex-BNP members into UKIP, let’s make that clear. One of the reasons I joined UKIP was because I was frightened of what the BNP could be. The way to defeat them is not to push leaflets through doors, although that helps, but to listen to the worries of ordinary people. We’ve got to offer a choice, an opposition, to the three main parties. People worry about their jobs, their homes, their schools, and if you want to engage with the electorate … We’re not afraid to engage with those things. We are listening.”
Mike Cox: “The problem is the system of democracy in this county. Take Hillingdon: we put all our efforts into a few wards because we don’t think we can win the others. The National Front got in because they were knocking on doors and delivering leaflets. We delivered one or two leaflets in Harefield at the election and we came second. If any of us parties are ever going to be elected, you’ve got to concentrate where you think you can win.”
2053: Comment from the floor: “Do you not thnik the BNP got the recognition they had a few years ago because people were fed up with the main parties?”
2049: Comment from the audience: “You guys should stand alongside them and expose them for what they are.”
Richard from the Conservatives. “When I came home and found my front windows had been shot out I thought ‘bloody hell, I’m going to deal with them’.” Addressing Mike Cox from the Greens, he says “Look at the millions who died under the evils of socialism.”
Helen from UKIP: “I saw them on TV kicking the crap out of that poor guy and I thought, ‘oh my god, someone’s got to do something about them.’ If we can highlight that to wider population, so much for the better.”
Mike from the Lib Dems: “I find them disgraceful people and I can’t bear to be on the same platform as them. I think they should be interviewed by Jeremy Paxman and exposed for what they are. I don’t think they should be banned from the BBC, they must be exposed for what they are.”
Mike from the Greens: “Lots of people will die, lots of black gay, Asian people will die. The better they did in South London, the more people got beaten up. The more exposure you give them, the better they’ll do. It’s foot soldiers on the ground who cause electoral wipeouts for the BNP.”
2047: “Would you have shared a platform with the BNP?”
Richard Barnes: “If a GLA employee refused to work with the BNP, they would have my full and total support. Would I confront the BNP? Every bloody time.”
Mike Cox: “Well, I’ve already refused.”
Helen Knight: “When Nick Griffin went on Question Time he made himself look like a complete idiot. No, I don’t want to share a platform with a bunch of nutters and racists, but one way to obliterate them is to make them look like idiots.”
Mike Carling: “I was a member of the Anti-Nazi League for many years. Theyre a violent group of racist thugs. They’ll always play the underdog until they’re the overdog, then they’ll smash you in the face.”
2045: New question on tuition fees and where the candidates stand.
Mike from the Greens: “I was on the student demonstrations against cuts, against fees.” Mentions spending on “war”, such as Trident and Afghanistan. “There was a sense that students were let down” by the Lib Dems, he says. “Investment in education is key,” he adds, going on to say, “If you end university with a massive house to buy, we will become a debt-ridden economy.”
Mike from the Lib Dems. “I’m going to swear, I’m sorry. There’s a lot of bollocks being talked about tuition fees at the moment. I signed the pledge against tuition fees at the election. It amounts to nothing more than a graduate tax, he says, going on to mention that it is one of Labour’s policies. “It was the Liberal Democrats who decided that it would be no more than £9,000 – if working class students are being put off, it’s because of the language being used to describe it.”
Helen from UKIP: “It’s not that high and still have to work out how to live after you graduate. The fairest scheme of all is not to have them [fees] in the first place. No wonder it puts people off [going to university].”
Richard from the Conservatives: “When the Labour Party decided they wanted 50% of young people to go to university, they obviously couldnt fund it, and that’s why tuition fees came in.”
2032: “Is this [Brunel] the best university in London, and what ideas do you have to offer to students?”
Mike from the Greens: “They’re at the sharper end of it because they’ve got less to spend. It’s jobs, so when you come out of it [university] you’re not on such a massive amount of debt.” (apologies to Mike, the page took a while to update so I didn’t get the rest of your answer down – Gaz, ed.)
Mike from the Lib Dems: “Of course this is the best university in London, I went here!” Mentions that he sits on the student-resident committee in Hillingdon, which spends a lot of its time “having a good bitch” about students. Yet, a student knocked on his door to tell him that he’d left his lights on, so students aren’t that bad, he says. “We need some sort of Town & Gown association – representatives of the students and of the town to come together and iron out the problems.”
Helen from UKIP: “I was a student eight years ago and I don’t know how you do it.” Mentions financial pressures on students, transport, housing, food, and so on. And continuing pressures into graduate life. “If we don’t invest in students, we might as well give up on having a decent economy again.” As someone from a “working class background” she wouldnt have attended university herself. “If we don’t invest [in our future], we’re screwed for the future.”
Richard from the Conservatives. “I am aware that there are a number of lecturers who don’t have English as their first language and I’ve spoken to the vice chancellor (academic) about why their lectures aren’t available via webcasts. He came to me and made that promise.”
2030: What makes you better than other candidates?
Richard: “I have the experience strategically and locally. I have a broad vision and I can see how things fit together.”
Helen: “I am young, I’m determined and I want to bring fresh ideas to the table.”
Mike from the Greens: “I reognise the level of the seriousness of the ecological threat that London faces.”
Mike from Lib Dems. “I employ 50 people so I am better placed to understand the complexities of the GLA and the billion-pound budgets it has.”
2027: New question. “In the recent BBC debates, the mayoral candidates were asked if they will publish their tax returns. Will our local candidates do the same?”
Richard: “My income is a matter of public record.
Helen: “I’m on PAYE, you can see my payslip if you like.”
Mike from the Greens: “I’m a public employee, I’m not on that much.”
Mike from the Lib Dems. “Yeah, absolutely.”
2025: Richard answers: “We’ve upgraded the Tube and started Crossrail. They’ll work closely together but you have to recognise that London is 26% of policing for the UK and 33% of crime, while it’s 26-28% of the UK’s GDP. The mayor has to fight for London.” He reminds us that he was the one to call for resignations over De Menezes’ shooting.
Helen of UKIP: “We don’t want the old boys running this country any more. Boris has his sights on leading the [Conservative] party. Lawrence Webb [UKIP's mayoral candidate] is focused on what we’re all focused on, getting out of the EU.”
2023: Question from the floor: “How would your [party's] mayoral candidate interact with 10 Downing Street?”
Mike from the Lib Dems: “I think Brian Paddick would have great influence on Downing Street through Nick Clegg. He’s a very senior member of the police force but he’s very critical of the police force.” He criticised the Met over their handling of the Jean Charles de Menezes shooting, Mike reminds us.
2021: Helen from UKIP: “I feel much safer and securer here [in London] and this is a good place to bring up my family. I feel much more secure here than I did in Tower Hamlets.”
Mike from the Lib Dems: “I have many friends here, including across the political divide, and one thing I would stress is the environment. We have some great parks here – Ruislip Lido is a fantastic place and we have great amenities to bring your family up.”
2020: General discussion. Mike from the Greens: “For me immigration has been very positive for London, it makes it an exciting place to live in.”He mentions Southall and says he wants to “give a thumbs up to diversity and immigration.”
2019: Debate over the role of UKIP in national politics. Helen Knight mounts a spirited defence of the party and says the media are “only interested in hearing from Nigel Farage about the EU”. Audience member makes the point that “good politicians shouldn’t let the media set the agenda.”
2017: Second choices for mayor? Helen: “Boris – or anyone but Ken!” Mike from the Greens: “Ken.” Neither Richard from the Conservatives nor Mike from Lib Dems commits themselves.
2014: Helen from UKIP, responding to accusations that UKIP is a one-trick anti-EU party: “We are pro Europe but anti-EU”. “we have a whole range of policies, we don’t get the chance to put our range of policies across. People have to take the time to look into this. The London Assembly election vote is a good way for Londoners to show they have a second vote. That doesn’t work in general elections” because people vote tribally.
2012: Richard from the Conservatives: “I’ve known Jenny Jones for 12 years and I wish she’d stop using the microwave for cooking lentil pies.” On Brian Paddick: “I interviewed him twice for promotion and he was as wooden than as he is now.” On Ken and his re-adoption by the Labour Party in 2004: “I don’t re-tread tyres, why would I re-tread the mayor? He’s such a miserable old sod and such a totally divisive character.”
2009: Mike from the Greens backs Ken. “When he became independently elected for mayor, it was a breath of fresh air.” The problem with political systems, he says, citing France’s presidential elections earlier this week where far-right candidate Marine Le Pen polled 20% of the vote. Ken was an “anti-establishment breath of fresh air from the left” and voting Boris is “cheering for the bankers, for the rich.”
2007: Fresh question from compere Peter Smallwood: “Do we think it’s good that we have the same old people standing for the same old jobs? Are we at risk of going stale?”
Mike from the Lib Dems responds first: “I wouldn’t vote for Ken if he was the last person in the world; he’s a dreadful human being!” The compere intervenes – no personal attacks, please! Mike continues: “I know a lot of people in the Labour party and in business and they won’t vote for him.” Says people are “fed up of politicians” and the “system of politics.”
2005: Mike from the Lib Dems: “It’s all in our manifesto online!” Mike from the Greens interjects, “good luck with that…” There are practical things that the GLA can do to improve life for ordinary Londoners – he cites policing and ensuring that “vandals fix what they have broken.” Goes on to say “a lot of the problem with crime is the fear of crime.” There is a “systeic problem” with the banking industry, rather than individual bankers. He then reminds us to go online and read the Lib Dem manifesto.
2003: Helen, still answering the second question from 2001: “It’s not the bankers that are going to suffer, it’s the IT workers, the secretaries, the taxi drivers. They won’t be going with them [if the banks leave London] so we need to fight for our biggest industry.” Mentions immigration – immigrants from EU countries are competing for “housing, jobs, transport.” She says the living wage means that immigrants from abroad are making it uncompetitive for companies to employ labour from London, instead preferring foreign labour.
Interruption from Richard Barnes
2001: Second question from the floor: “How will you deal with the issues you mention?”
Mike from the Greens: “In terms of inequality, there’s lots you can do. There’s the London Living Wage campaign.” Saving money, saving the planet and saving the environment – “we’ve got a plan that will make London recycling neutral by 2030.” Mike mentions anaerobic digestors, which use food waste to generate energy. The rest of Europe has “stolen a march on us” in this field, he says. “To make our lives easier, to provide money for the things we want – which are social programs.”
Richard from the Conservatives speaks. “It is a strategic model across the whole of London, as well as holding the mayor to account.” The Living Wage, which was institued under Ken Livingstone, had just 21 companies signed up – now, four yaers later, there’s 200 companies signed up. Yet the EU’s rules mean it is not enforceable on all London companies. Richard has started a program called “Diversity Works For London” he says. He says the Conservatives have created 4,500 sustainable apprenticeships in London over the last 18 months. “Use your economic purchasing power to enforce your social justice policies.” He adds: “When I got there 8 years ago they didn’t know which companies they’d bought things from – now they do.”
1951: First question from the floor: “What’s the most pressing, the number 1 issue for local residents?”
Mike from the Lib Dems says “Transport and housing, and if you read the polls, crime and policing. Who better to have as mayor than an ex-policeman?” Talking about the Tube, he says: “From a local perspective, transport is the most important issue.
Mike from the Greens says: “Four out of five parents feel their child won’t get their first choice of school in London. For students, the squeeze in your pocket maeans you might not be able to afford to live. We will build houses and other good quality accommodation and we will work with the GLA to offer good housing, while disincentivising people from living under slum landlords.” All of these things – housing and the cost of transport – hit poorer people harder. In the press there’s a lot of stuff about crime, and a lot of hype and paranoia. Mike says “London is becoming more and more of an unequal society.”
Richard from the Conservatives says: “It’s the economy, stupid,” quoting Bill Clinton. He mentions the proximity of Heathrow, and the construction of Crossrail, saying how the administration must catch up by providing good housing. Links with central government on planning issues gets a mention too. Transport issues can be solved by building up the economy of London’s suburbs by making it less important to travel into Central London.
Helen of UKIP says: “The biggest one you guys have failed to mention is HS2.” It’s a “waste of money” and it’s the “people of this area who will suffer.”
1949: Helen Knight of UKIP makes her opening speech. She works in the city and she’s about to become a mum. “The UK Independence Party best represented my views about Europe,” she says, citing worries about the EU, as well as local concerns regarding crime and schooling and the sort of London her child will enter.
1950: “I think it’s really important that we all get out and vote” concludes Helen.
1949: Mike Carling of the Greens is next up. He speaks briefly about his local connections with Hillingdon – his son attends the neighbouring school – and speaks about how Green representation on the London Assembly has made a positive difference on London.
1947: “To change anything that wants changing you need guts and determination, and I think I’ve got lots of those, and to stand as a Liberal Democrat you need both of those,” concludes Mike.
1946: Mike Cox from the Lib Dems is next up. He introduces himself as an ex-Brunel student and a chartered account in Rickmansworth, who employs 30 people and says this makes him “technically qualified” to do the job. He’s also a father of two and lives just around the corner from the university – jokes about winning “hands down already”. He was also a councillor on Hillingdon Council, “leading a group of two” Lib Dems who sat on that body.
1944: Richard wants to “bring London together”, does not want London going “back to the past” and urges the student audience not to vote for extremist parties before he is cut short by the timer. There is a time limit for each candidate.
1940: Richard Barnes of the Conservative Party makes his opening speech. He is the sitting Conservative candidate for Hillingdon and Ealing and also the Deputy Mayor of London. Richard opens by making a few jokes about London “landing on his shoulders” if Boris Johnson “falls under a bendy bus” – before reassuring us that he hopes Boris remains “in the most excellent of health”