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A clutch of candidates: from right, Amber Rudd, Nick Perry, Nicholas Wilson, Bishop Richard Jackson (the exception), Michael Phillips and Peter Chowney.

A clutch of candidates: from right, Amber Rudd, Nick Perry, Nicholas Wilson, chair Bishop Richard Jackson, Michael Phillips and Peter Chowney.

No great surprises at Hastings hustings

Tuesday night’s hustings at the Hastings Centre was the last chance to catch all five parliamentary candidates in one place, and probably their last chance to impress a large live audience with their proposals. Nick Terdre sampled the atmosphere and the pronouncements.

And this time there were no untoward interruptions of any of the candidates as happened at the Rye hustings on Saturday night. The Bishop of Lewes, Richard Jackson, chaired proceedings calmly and fairly, carefully allotting the same time to each candidate to make their initial pitch and then, in rotating order, answer a series of questions.

Peter Chowney.

Peter Chowney.

From the moment the candidates were introduced, it was clear from the the prolonged cheering and clapping which greeted him that it was Labour’s Peter Chowney who had most supporters in the audience, which at a rough guess numbered some 300. The Conservatives’ Amber Rudd also had her partisans, and the Liberal Democrat’s Nick Perry won applause for some of his pronouncements.

If there were supporters of the UK Independence Party’s Michael Phillips present, they kept themselves to themselves. Their candidate was heckled at times. The independent, Nicholas Wilson, has no party to back him but his anti-corruption message clearly struck a chord with some of the more vociferous members of the audience.

No new revelations

There were no great revelations! But that was probably not a big surprise. The candidates were firmly on-message, and most of the questions – submitted in advance by the public – stuck to predictable issues. As an example, the candidates were asked what they would do to protect us from terrorism.

Wilson would stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia and stop the government doing business with them, as well as not giving HSBC executives jobs at the BBC. Perry wanted the resources to make the legislation effective, so that when terrorists were reported to the police, the reports were acted upon. He also feared that security cooperation with the EU would suffer as we cut our ties.

Amber Rudd.

Amber Rudd.

Rudd said the enemy was real, smart and efficient. The best way to combat them was through working with local communities. The government had made the necessary investments in the security services.

As well as stopping selling arms to the Saudis, Chowney said we should stop following the US into ill-advised ventures, as Blair had done. Community policing was also key and he criticised cuts to community officers.

According to Phillips the police don’t have sufficient powers. One of Ukip’s proposals was to round up known jihadis and intern them.

Low-carbon economy

In response to a question about moving to a low-carbon economy, Wilson would ban fracking and stick to using energy from above-ground sources. He would also ban politicians with family members who lobbied for oil and gas companies.

Nick Perry.

Nick Perry.

The LibDems were responsible for the biggest investment in renewables under the coalition government, according to Perry, who said this was not a priority issue for the Tories any more, nor was the Green Investment Bank championed by his party. Donald Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the Paris agreement was a disgrace.

Rudd was proud to have led the UK delegation to the Paris talks, where the UK played an important role in securing the agreement. She was confident that the Paris agreement would move ahead, and encouraged that US city and state authorities had expressed their determination to continue to implement it.

Michael Phillips.

Michael Phillips.

For Chowney climate change was the most important issue. While the Labour manifesto talked of a low-carbon economy, he was in favour of a no-carbon economy. And the immense amount of plastics in the oceans was disrupting the role of philoplankton in recycling oxygen and carbon dioxide.

Phillips acknowledged that climate change was happening but questioned whether it was due to human activity. In his view Trump was probably right to pull out of the Paris agreement.


Perhaps the most interesting question came last, when the candidates were asked what private members’ bill they would want to propose if elected.

Nicholas Wilson.

Nicholas Wilson.

Phillips favoured a bill on voluntary euthanasia – he didn’t want to end up a dribbling wreck. Rudd proposed a bill on domestic violence – two women a week die at the hands of their partner, she said.

Chowney’s choice was the original version of the homelessness reduction bill, which was passed in Parliament but in a much watered down version. Wilson wanted protection for whistleblowers – they were essential to democracy and the way they were currently treated was a disgrace .

The priority for Perry was social care costs, and he criticised the Tories for proposing the ‘dementia tax’ and a cap of an unspecified amount.


Posted 19:51 Wednesday, Jun 7, 2017 In: Election 2017


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  1. Nick Terdre

    In reply to Ms Doubtfire’s question, this hustings was open to all, as was the one in Rye. All five candidates were present at both events. Admission to the early-morning hustings organised by the local chamber of commerce was by ticket (£12, breakfast included). Only the Labour, LibDem and Tory candidates were invited to the chamber of commerce event, and in the event Amber Rudd was not able to attend.

    Comment by Nick Terdre — Monday, Jun 12, 2017 @ 10:08

  2. Ms.Doubtfire

    How was the audience selected for this ‘husting’ – was it ticket only or was it via some other selection method. Hopefully it wasn’t along the lines of the BBC audience selections which appeared to show a real left wing bias.

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Monday, Jun 12, 2017 @ 09:06

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