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Wilson ready to seize hustings opportunity

Independent anti-corruption candidate Nicholas Wilson has found himself marginalised in the general election campaign so far, but is looking forward to the opportunity to get his case into the spotlight at the two hustings still to come. Nick Terdre reports.

Hustings are supposed to be open events where the local candidates can present themselves and their policies to the public, and the public can ask questions and make their assessment. The hustings organised by the Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce last week fell some way short – only three candidates were invited, Labour, LibDem and Tory, and you had to pay £12, VAT included, to get in.

“It was particularly galling not to be invited,” Nicholas Wilson told HOT. “I’ve had a lot of dealings with small businesses, and I’m in a national network of people who campaign on the issue of bank fraud – the SME Alliance. For me to be ignored by the local chamber of commerce is just ridiculous.”

It is not just individual customers who suffer the kind of bank fraud which drove Mr Wilson to become a whistleblower – small businesses are also victims, such as those which have found themselves trapped in an impossible loan arrangement and put into administration by the bank which was supposedly helping them. Mr Wilson was recently contacted by just such a local businessman who wants to talk to him about his experience at the hands of Barclays.

Compass event

The independent candidate was, however, invited to the event organised by Compass, the organisation behind the Progressive Alliance movement, which took place alongside Rock the Vote day a couple of Sundays ago. He was told this would be a “barnstorming” session, a kind of “non partisan workshop . . to promote successful campaigning techniques,” as adopted in the US by the Bernie Sanders campaign, he writes in an open letter to Progressive Alliance and Compass.

“I was quickly made aware of the true purpose of the event when James [Corre, of Compass], in his opening remarks, explained that it was to decide the best way to ensure the Labour candidate Peter Chowney was elected..Since I am also a candidate campaigning on an essential issue, but was not consulted by the Progressive Alliance about sharing a platform, it became obvious the supposedly neutral event would be of no benefit to my cause, and I left.”

Independents taking a stand against corruption are not new. Martin Bell won a safe Tory seat in 1997 after the Labour and LibDem candidates stood down. Corruption has not gone away since then – in fact it was in 2004 that Mr Wilson’s whistleblowing career began. And banking scandals have just kept coming. Of course the problem is not confined to the corporate sector – the MPs’ expenses scandal is a prime example of political corruption.

Two hustings

So the two hustings arranged by Church Together, in Hastings and Rye, offer a welcome opportunity for Mr Wilson to raise his concerns and present his case. “I am looking forward to the hustings!” he said. “It will be the main chance I have for people to understand what I am standing for and why. I am also intrigued to know if Ms Rudd will turn up.”

Both hustings, one on Saturday in Rye and the other on Tuesday in Hastings, will be chaired by the Bishop of Lewes, Richard Jackson. All candidates have been invited, and both are free events.

Mr Wilson has also been interviewed by BBC South East for a radio programme on political candidates, and was due to be photographed by the Guardian for its election coverage.

 

Rye Hustings Sat 3 June, 7pm, St Mary’s Church, Lion St, Rye TN31 7LB. Questions need to be submitted by 7pm on Thurs 1 June to Canon Richard Orchard, by email (richardorchard41@yahoo.co.uk) or phone (01797 225916).

Hastings Hustings Tues 6 June, 7.30pm, Hastings Centre, The Ridge, Hastings TN34 2SA. Questions have to be submitted in advance via the Church Together website.

 

Posted 17:57 Thursday, Jun 1, 2017 In: Election 2017

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