Grill the candidates: Election hustings March 31st

Hampstead & Kilburn 2015 Candidates_cropped

As the May 7th election gets closer, and election literature starts to pour through you door, how best to know who to vote for?

Go to a hustings to hear the candidates answer questions – maybe your question. If you’ve never been to a hustings before, or aren’t sure if they’re really for you, why not come along to the Sherriff Centre on March 31st and give it a go? This will be an accessible way to meet the candidates, see what the issues are, and understand where the differences between the parties lie.

Hampstead & Kilburn was the closest three-way marginal in the country in 2010 and Labour held the seat by just 42 votes from the Conservatives (the Lib Dems were many people’s pre-election favourites, which tells you how tight it was). So, the idea that your vote doesn’t matter holds no water here, and when you consider the national situation that puts Labour and the Conservatives neck and neck in terms of numbers of seats they expect to win, every vote in a swing seat like this really can influence the make-up of the next government.

It’s important therefore to know who you’re voting for – not just the party or party leader, but the actual person who would be your MP. We’ve already briefly introduced the five candidates standing so far – Tulip Siddiq (Lab), Simon Marcus (Con), Maajid Nawaz (LibDem), Rebecca Johnson (Green), and Magnus Nielsen (UKIP).

On March 31st, you’ll have the chance to grill them in person at the West Hampstead Life hustings held at The Sherriff Centre in St James’s Church on West End Lane/Sherriff Road.

The event is a chance to hear from the candidates on why you should vote for them, but more importantly to ask them questions about the issues that matter to you.

We’ll start at 7.30pm promptly, so please start arriving from 7pm. The doors will be open before that if you really want to get a good seat. We plan to wrap at 9.30pm.

The Sanctuary Café will serve coffee and tea (and possibly cake!) until 9pm, and there’ll be wine available for a donation (money going to St James’).

Each candidate will give a 3 minute opening pitch on why you should vote for them. As you’ll know if you were at the lively council election hustings, we will be strict on the timekeeping and an alarm will go off after 3 minutes.

The rest of the evening will be broken into three sections: Local, National, International. There are of course blurred lines between these, but hopefully it lends some structure to proceedings. Local will be for topics and issues directly related to London, and West Hampstead specifically. National will be for broader policy areas: e.g., the economy, immigration, the NHS. International will be for geopolitical issues as well as issues such as climate change.

Each section will start with a question from the chair, and then the floor will be open for questions from you. Please raise your hand only for a question that falls within the section we’re dealing with. Some questions of course could fall into a couple of sections, e.g., housing.

There’s no need to sign up beforehand or pre-submit questions, just stick your hand in the air. We do suggest that you have your questions ready though and please keep them short and succinct – we want questions not statements. We won’t have time to get to everyone’s questions, but we’ll get to as many as we can and encourage the candidate to give reasonably brief answers.

That’s it. We look forward to seeing as many of you there as possible, so do come along!