‘It’s good to see politics is alive and can generate a good stooshie,’ commented Dr Katherine Trebeck of Oxfam after the Sunny Govan Radio’s hustings on Tuesday 26 April. Oxfam is a supporter of the 24 hour radio station which beams out across the whole of Glasgow and beyond.
Held in Kinning Park Church and chaired by media director Martin Paterson of Paterson Communications, the Southside Constituency contenders of Nicola Sturgeon (SNP), Stephen Curran (Labour), Kenneth Elder (Lib Dem) and David Meikle (Conservative) had a sparky interchange and the audience took no prisoners either!
The biggest audience applause was during the question on the future of shipbuilding in Govan and Scotstoun when the questioner – Iain McInnes a community campaigner said: ‘We should be building ships for peace not war. Ferries for around the coast and sea-going structures for renewables is what we should be building.’
Nicola Sturgeon said she was proud of the local shipbuilders in what was her constituency before recent boundary changes.. ‘We should be 100% behind Govan and Scotstoun yards,’ she said. ‘Anyone who suggests they only got the work because they are a part of the UK, is doing them a great dis-service. It is because of their skills and their willingness to change and be flexible that they got the orders.’
David Meikle in making a point that the companies should be securing new contracts in new markets as defence cuts took effect, was rounded on by Nicola who said it was ‘Tory cheek’ to suggest that, when Conservatives had been responsible for massive cutting of defence jobs.
Stephen Curran wanted to see the River Clyde better used. ‘It has great potential. The only reason Govan yard is still open is because we are part of the UK. In an independent Scotland, shipbuilding would disappear. It is absurd for the SNP to suggest otherwise.’
Lib Dem candidate Kenneth Elder said technology and future generations had to be considered. ‘We should be thinking of extending the industry not neglecting the River Clyde. There are not enough craft on the river which is a common good asset. We need a longer vision for the Clyde,’ he added.
Audience concerns covered – travel expenses for job seekers attending interviews in the city; regeneration and the plight of pensioners in flats who want Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) to renovate their lifts, not install new ones. On that issue, the panel was unanimous that GHA had to listen to what the pensioners wanted. ‘I’ll be on the phone to GHA in the morning,’ said Nicola.
When the effect of cuts at the St Mungo centre for disabled people was aired, Stephen said: ‘People don’t listen enough or trust enough. We are all in this together and we need to learn to trust each other.’
The spectre of people trafficking increasing during the Commonwealth Games was raised. ‘We’ve got to recognise this happens and talk about it,’ commented Kenneth. ‘We can find out what London does for the 2012 Olympics and learn lessons from and co-ordinate with international agencies across Europe.’
In a bit of banter, Nicola said she liked Midge Ure’s music: ‘I supported him in the 1980s so I’m giving my age away!’ Ure’s concert was a free one on the night of the hustings and aimed at young folk. Labour accused the SNP of a serious breach of election laws. Commented David:’ I don’t know who Midge Ure is! I suppose that shows my age!’
Post Office closures, regeneration, mental health, human rights and Go Ape and Pollok Park were all subjects tossed around by the candidates with dexterity.
Heading up Oxfam’s Poverty Programme for Scotland, Dr Trebeck said she was delighted with the evening.
A team of first year media students from Cardonald College filmed the event. ‘We want the experience,’ said Amy Hamlan (18). ‘I’m looking for good shots,’ said Dan Lowrie (26). ‘We’ll be giving Sunny Govan good feedback,’ added Jordan McClymont (22). All aim to be directors or writer directors in tv.