What happened: Canterbury Christ Church Hustings 2017

In just under two weeks the UK will vote in another General Election, as well as voting for candidates in their local cities and towns.

Canterbury Christ Church invited hundreds of people to their campus last night to host the Canterbury Hustings for the Canterbury and Whitsable constituency.

In attendance was Sir Julian Brazier (Conservative), Rosie Duffield (Labour), James Flanagan (Liberal Democrats) and Henry Stanton (Green Party).

An unexpected amount of peolpe turned up to the event with organsiers required to bring in extra chairs and tables for people to sit and listen to the candidates.

Canterbury Christ Church’s Pro Vice-Chancellor Mike Weed, requested a moment of silence for those who lost their lives in the Manchester attacks.

Here is how the night’s events unfolded.

Opening statements:

Labour – Rosie Duffield was first to deliver her opening statement by saying ‘Canterbury is not Conservative’ and ‘Labour will stop the Tories and a hard Brexit in their tracks’. She continued, mentioning that access to the single market is crucial to Canterbury and that Labour would invest 30bn into the NHS.

Before former teacher Duffield had the chance to elaborate, Canterbury City Councillor, Neil Baker repeatedly heckled her and her statements and was asked by staff to leave the room.

Neil Baker
Conservative City counsillor Neil Baker (pictured) was asked to leave after repeatedly heckling Labour candidate Rosie Duffield. Picture: Canterbury City Council

Rosie finished by assuring the audience Labour will make sure every child gets a free school meals and scrap tuition fees.

Liberal Democrats –  James Flanagan claimed this was no ordinary election, saying: “Public sectors are being cut back, our NHS is underfunded.

“Our local education is being cut back for pupils and overlaying all of this is the spector of a hard Brexit” , something he feels would have ‘major repercussions’ for Canterbury.

He continued: “I want to be your MP, because our MP has supported everything I’ve just mentioned.

“I want to be your MP because I’ll for what’s best for my home town in Canterbury.

“We’ll fight for no cuts to education. We’ll fight for a second referendum on the finals terms of the deal to leave the EU. Julian and his colleagues will have a second vote on fox hunting.”

Conservatives Mr Brazier began his opening statement, mentioning the ‘ghastly events in Manchester’.

He said: “They remind us how fragile our way of life can sometimes be, but I’m proud to be part of a party that belives in strong defences.

“Because aid is often cruical in restablishing these areas.”

He later added that for all of this to be sustainable, the UK must have a ‘healthy economy’, before closing his statement, saying: “If you re-elect me I will fight for the best for our country in the Brexit negotiations and I’ll keep the open door. Even those who can’t listen to a politicians speech without abuse.”

Mr Brazier’s last comments were aimed at a a few people in the audience heckling his opening statement.

Green Party –  Referring to Mr Neil Baker, Henry Stanton began his statement humerously, which was met with roaring laughter from the crowd.

He said: “I’m glad to see the Conservative city councillor making so much noise has been removed. Much like the Conservatives, full of noise but no substance.”

Mr Stanton took a trip down memory lane with his opening speech, mentioning his favourites spots in Canterbury – Toddlers Cove, Harry tower and his favourite, Castle Street. Henry continued, saying he would fight to reduce air pollution, homelessness, cycle networks in the city and the Canterbury urgent care centre.

Question: Our social care system is in crisis – What’s your solution?

Image result for social care uk

Labour Duffield highlighted that properly funded social care  as well as nurses all of the time is necessary. She said: “We can afford to fund social care, we are the fifth richest economy in the world.”

Liberal Democrats – “The solution is not what you read in the Conservative manifesto – I met someone this week who was very worried as they live with the person they care for and didn’t know what would happen if they die.

“The best way to go is to raise 6bn a year for social care and mental health.”

Conservatives – “There has to be more money for social care and the government has allocated an extra 2bn over the next years.

“Nobody is going to have to sell their home to fund their parnters care. There is no magic pot we can magic up, it has to be funded properly.”

Green Party – “Everyone seems to have forgotten the U-turn the Conservatives have made. No-one knows what their policy is. Not even Theresa May does.”

Question: How will local government help fund local authorities?

Image result for Kent police

Green Party – Henry Stanton stated that local authorities have been cut 40% over the last five years, before adding that one way of funding local authorities would be through council tax.

Conservatives – Mr Brazier believes delegating powers to a unitary authority is a good idea as it ‘brings them closer to the people, where they’re more accountable’.

Liberal Democrats – James Flanagan ‘spent 8 years’ on the council seeing Conservative cut funding to local authorities. He continued, saying that the Liberal Democrats sent a budget proposal to avoid these cuts and on one occasion offered to take a 10% pay cut but were denited by the Conservatives both times.

Labour – Similar to Mr Stanton, Mrs Duffield reiterated council tax is the most sensible option, saying: “Nobody wants to raise council tax, but we may have to look at that.”

Question: What practical measures would you support to include air quality in Canterbury?

Green Party – As you woud imagine, the Green Party and Henry Stanton were frothing at the mouth for this question, with Henry stating he ‘had a list’. Stanton believes reducing the number of cars in Canterbury, or the number of people using them to travel inwards to the city is key.

Plans for a car free day in Canterbury were rejected by the council.

 

He mentioned previous suggestions of a car free day in Canterbury, something that was ‘buried’ by the Conservative council, before adding more cycle paths, low emission zones or alternate number platers, similar to what is used in Paris, could be a solution.

Conservatives – Julian Brazier highlighted the issue of diesel, as well as trying to promote cycling and walking.

He said: “I’m abig supporter of cycling. I also do believe we should make use of our feet – we used to walk a lot.

“It’s a very important challenge that I’m very interested in.”

Liberal Democrats – “Air pollution is the second biggest issue after smoking on how it affects us.” Mr Flanagan opened with before criticising Conservative plans to build as many as 16,000 houses, claiming congestion would need to be avoided.

Labour – Labour had the initial idea for a car free day and worked with the green party on this, something they would still like to happen.

Mrs Duffield stressed the importance of making sure the right buses are in place, before mentioning that when she was a teacher she saw children with ‘all kinds of pumps in the middle of the city centre – It is not okay’.

Question: Canterbury has a large LGBT community how will you support this community and support equal adoption right in the UK?

Conservatives – “Gay adoption is long behind us. My stance was based on what was in the best interest of children.” – A sentiment that was met with plenty of jeers and booing from the audience.

Mr Brazier responded by saying “those debates are long behind us”, while CCCU Student Union president, Krum Tashev, retorted “what about fox hunting?” (referring to the Conservatives plans to vote on legislation of fox hunting if in power after the General Election).

The Conservative man ‘didn’t see the relevance’ before explaing that the Crown Prosecution Service have said that the current law is unenforcable.

Image result for LBGT
CCCU’s Student Union president wanted to know what candidates would do for the LGBT community in Canterbury.

Green Party – “The Green Party fully supports LGBT. I would go as far as to say it goes to the absolute core of our community in treating everyone equal.”

Liberal Democrats – “One of the proudest things we [Liberal Democrats] in government was equal marriage. Julian I think you voted against that.

“You would have my full support, I believe totally in equality for everyone.”

Labour – Duffield pointed out that children have no interest in a persons sexuality, and that all they need is ‘a loving, caring home’.

“There are plenty of children who would love safe, warm, loving environments. I will 100% support equality. It shouldn’t even be an issue.”

Question: What is your opinion on grammar schools?

All of the candidates felt that failing the 11+ exam can have terrible effects on young children.

Labour – Labour won’t support huge funding and building of grammar schools, but we won’t close them down.

Liberal Democrats – “I remember explaining to my 11-year-old daughter she hadn’t passed her test by one point. There must be another way.

“There’s too mich pressure being put on kids at that age.”

Conervatives – Mr Brazier linked poor education as a ‘key driver’ to poverty in many communities. Although he believes grammar schools do a great job in Kent, he shares the Lib Dems concerns about the test. However, he believes grammar school should be introduced to parts of the country where there currently aren’t any.

Green Party – Mr Stanton went to grammar school and is a grammar school teacher in Faversham, but is against them.

He insisted that he had never thought about until he saw the ‘profound impact’ failing the 11+ has on people.

How are we going to staff the NHS as a result of Brexit and the withdrawl of bursaries in nursion education?

Image result for NHS

Labour – “Labour needs to be around the table when it comes to Brexit and defend the right of people to come across and help us in the NHS.” Rosie Duffield told the audience before adding that Labout would reinstate the bursary for nursing.

Liberal Democrats – James Flanagan said guaranteeing the right of the EU citizens to stay in the UK would help staff the NHS, claming that 10% of GP’s are EU citizens.

He also added that the decision by the government to get rid of nursing bursaries was ‘outrageous’ and that the Lib Dems would bring them back.

Conervatives – “Im not comfortable on the nursing bursaries” Mr Brazier said before adding that nobody from his party is ‘suggesting we’re not going to continue to accept high quality people in the NHS’.

He ended his answer by stating that as a result of foreign citizens coming over we would be ‘plundering some key people from some very poor countries’.

Green Party – “Staffing is absolutely fundamental.” Mr Stanton said before adding we need to ‘respect our public services and that means an honest conversation about tax’. A statement that was met by a shout of ‘TAX THE RICH’.

Question: *regarding e-mail sent from Sir Julian Braziers agent* What do you all think of Mr Brazier’s e-mail regarding Corbyn’s comments on Manchester attacks?

Labour – Mrs Duffield felt Jeremy Corbyn’s words were misconstrude and explained what she thought he meant.

Liberal Democrats – James Flanagan criticised the Tories for the ‘unacceptable’ use of Manchester attacks for political gain.

Conervatives – Mr Brazier reiterated that we were ‘up against an enemy that want’s to destroy our way of life.

Green Party – Mr Stanton felt Corbyn was right to say something, otherwise it opened the door for certain people…

What would candidates do if eleceted to make the government uphold refugee law?

Image result for refugee uk

Green Party – “The Green Party is absolutely committed to the idea of trying to reduce the amount of refugees in the world.

“First we can start by spendning more on internation aid.”

Henry Stanton pointed out that the 0.7% of GDP spent on foreign aid is very good, but he would like to spend more on it as ‘foreign aid is a way of having security in our own country’.

Conservatives – “I agree with what Henry said. I’m proud of the fact that Britain is providing as mich as as the rest of Europe put together nearly.

“We’re providing education, shelter for literally thousands of children.”

Mr Brazier claimed the refugee crisis could be ‘arguably the worst ever’ and that the UK shoud only take refugees from ‘surround countries’.

Liberal Democrats – Flanagan slammed the government’s decision on the dubs amendment which rejected the arrival of 3,000 unaccompanied refugee children from Syria.

“Right wing media tries to sow seeds of doubt. We need to take 50,000 Syrian refugees over the next five years.”

Labour – “Julian Brazier and the Conservatives are behaving as if we’re taking these people as an increidbly kind act.

“Why is there question on unaccompanied children?

“We need to recognise the trauma they’ve been through.”

How do you aim to help the homeless in Canterbury?

Image result for homeless canterbury

Labour Mrs Duffield spent time at Catching Lives, and told everyone how they said the number one thing they needed was council houses. They needed ‘access to decent housing’ instead of private landlords.

Liberal Democrats – “I would work with local charities” James promised, as well as saying more social housing and greater investment in mental health was needed. He finished, saying: “We need to talk to them. There’s too many cases when people walk on paths. These are human beings everyone.”

Conervatives – Julian Brazier commended charities such as Porchlight and Catching Lives, before adding that more homes are needed in general to help them, and the various programmes in place by the council are progressively doing this.

Green Party – “Three months ago we launched a petition for a permenant night shelter to be built” Henry mentioned, believing this showed how serious his party was about helping homelessness in Canterbury, which has the eighth worst homelessness problem per capita in the UK.

Question: I’m deeply concerned about the Kent Canterbury Hospital – what will you do to fight for it?

Image result for Kent canterbury hospital

Conservative – “This is top of my constituency list.” Mr Brazier opened with, before adding he had jus tstarted a ‘series of meetings’ and would ‘bring it to the commons floor later’.

He added: “It’s about trying to persuade people this is the hub of East Kent.”

Liberal Democrats – Mr Flanagan began his answer by slamming Brazier for not bringing this up in Parliament before and thinks Canterbury ‘needs a hospital’ as it’s the second highest populated city in Kent after Maidstone.

He ended his speech, saying: “I’m sorry Julian, if you’ve not raised this once in 10 years,  what hope do we have.”

Rosie Duffield – “Nobody asked us whether we wanted services at hospital to be shut. Keeping it is no question.

“It’s vital we keep the hospital in Canterbury.”

Green Party – Similar to Mr Flanaga, Henry Stanton criticised Brazier for not raising the issue in houise.

He pointed out that the Conservative candidate had asked Theresa May five seperate questions before, but never about the hospital, which is a ‘pressing issue’.

He finished: “We have an MP here that is complacent.”

Questions: I’m worried about a hard Brexit – if you supported leave can you tell me why I’m wrong to be worried and if you were remain, how can we sort this out?

Image result for Brexit eu flag

Liberal Democrats – “The best way we can sort this is if we remain in the EU. We’ll give you that second opportunity. If the British people can vote on the departure we should be allowed to vote on the destination.”

Conservatives – Mr Brazier started his time by addressing the previous hospital question, stating people could find his comments and determination to fight for the hospital on his website.

Sir Julian then added that it was the peoples choice to leave and that companies were still investing in the UK and London in particular.

Green Party – Henry Stanton believes the public didn’t know what they were voting for.

He said: “The Green Party will give another referendum. The truth is the pound has tumbled, inflation has gone up, our wage growth hasn’t moved in seven years.

“We’re not looking at strong or stable, it’s strong and stagnant.”

Labour – “I still haven’t quite got over the the fact we have an MP that disregards the views of the city.” Duffield began, before adding that another referendum ‘wouldn’t happen’.

She said: “We can’t get the numbers in Parliament. We have to protect the 3million EU citizens that are here now.”

Closing question: What is your top priority if elected?

Labour – Hospital, rights for EU citizens, aboloshing bedroom tax.

Liberal Democrats NHS, hospitals, remain in the EU.

Conservatices – Hospital (locally), Foreign policy (nationally)

Henry Stanton Canterbury hospital.

Public reaction:

If you have any thoughts or opinions about the #CCCUHusting2017, send us them on Twitter or Facebook @CCSUUnified. Also, if you want to watch the Hustings event, click here.

If you want to find out more about each candidate, their website and manifesto’s can be found below:

 

 

 

 

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About Sean McPolin 21 Articles

Sean is a third-year multimedia journalism student and News Editor for Unified. He has had work used at BBC, ITV, Huffington Post, Buzzfeed and the Daily Mail.

He’s an aspiring online journalist with a key interest in sports, and has written for the Mirror Sport and Mail Online.

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