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Hastings assembles, for a people-led approach to the general election

There’s a general election coming, but does it matter who gets elected? The question is posed by a growing body of people who find themselves alienated by current party politics. On the back of their disillusionment a community assembly has been organised for Sunday 16 June, where fellow citizens are invited to decide for themselves what the priority issues should be. Nick Terdre reports.

While many have welcomed the imminent general election as an opportunity to have their say and maybe bring about a change in government, others feel alienated from the process and unconvinced that much will change.

“Many of us are despairing about the state of our country and our world, and about the party political system that offers more of the same,” says local activist Felicity Laurence.

“We are desperately concerned about crumbling public services such as housing, health and water; we are acutely aware of climate breakdown and the lack of political will to act on this: and we join the millions of people in our country and over the entire world in wanting our governments to stop the genocide taking place in Gaza.”

Those who share this disillusionment are invited to Hastings Assembles, a community assembly to be held at Stade Hall on Sunday 16 June.

Up for discussion will be people’s opinions on what the priority issues should be, and how politicians can be held to their promises after the election. Candidates are welcome to come along and listen, so it will be interesting to see which ones do, if any.

“Could this assembly be the start of a new type of grassroots politics to challenge the broken system in Westminster and make real change?” the organisers ask.

Reclaiming politics from politicians

“We’re trying to reclaim politics from politicians!” said Polly Gifford, another of those behind the initiative. expressed it:  “As public discourse gets sucked into the whirlwind of the election, I think it’s vital to have a conversation where the agenda is set by local people and that recognises that a strong local community is the foundation for action and for hope.”

While the movement is not intended to reflect any particular political position, it is clear that for many adherents the driving force is disillusionment with Keir Starmer’s Labour Party, its failure to take a forthright stance on matters of social justice, its abandonment of many of its important policies and its interference with local decision-making.

But no doubt any who feel left on the margins without a voice are welcome if they accept the premise for the discussion.

An interesting and probably typical account of her personal journey to supporting Hastings Assembles is given in a blog by one-time Labour activist Kay Green. During her time in the party under Jeremy Corbyn, she felt she and others at the grassroots had a voice.

“When you really do allow all kinds of people to input their wants and needs, the same themes come to the fore over and over again,” she writes.

“People like things to be fair, they want life to be affordable, they want local authorities taking responsibility for health and social services, and they want the Post Office, water and public transport to be public services, not the playthings of irresponsible profiteers … and people don’t like war. Calling for fair play in Palestine wasn’t a minority interest in Corbyn’s Labour Party. Nor was a civilised response to refugees, or addressing the climate crisis.”

Things changed radically after Corbyn’s defeat in 2019. “We lost the Labour Party, and that’s why I don’t really care who wins the election in Hastings,” she says.

Whether a Labour or a Tory MP is elected, “Either way, we will have a dishonest, self-serving MP. But here’s where the new hope came from: we lost the Labour Party, but we didn’t lose the experience of people-led policy-making.”

And that’s where Hastings Assembles comes in.


Hastings Assembles Sunday 16 June, 5-7pm. Stade Hall, The Stade, Hastings TN34 3FJ. Entry is free but you are asked to register your intention to attend.

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Posted 11:16 Wednesday, Jun 5, 2024 In: Politics


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  1. JC Hart

    “Peed-off Corbynistas”?
    Aw … how cynical.
    I’m going as a Libertarian Zionist who believes the primary role of government is defence, security, facilitating economic growth and applying minimal taxation, and I’m 100% positive I’ll receive a very warm welcome indeed!

    Comment by JC Hart — Friday, Jun 14, 2024 @ 23:41

  2. Tommy Smith

    Judy – The organisers have put their names and some info about themselves on their Facebook page now, so it’s all a bit more transparent, which is all that I was after.

    Comment by Tommy Smith — Friday, Jun 14, 2024 @ 10:01

  3. DAR

    Judy, aren’t you all peed-off Corbynistas? He had some good policies, but some awful ones too.

    Comment by DAR — Tuesday, Jun 11, 2024 @ 11:16

  4. Judy Greenwell

    Tommy Smith, I wouldn’t want to waste my time either, so could you please tell me which ‘doctrinaire Left party’ you think is running this event?

    Comment by Judy Greenwell — Monday, Jun 10, 2024 @ 07:37

  5. Tommy Smith

    I wish the people running this event would be honest about who they are (i.e. what organisations they come from). Having been to many things like this in the past only to discover that I wasted my time – because I wouldn’t have bothered if I’d known it was being run by some doctrinaire Left party – I have become very wary of political events that haven’t got the nerve to put their name on the poster.

    Comment by Tommy Smith — Wednesday, Jun 5, 2024 @ 15:39

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