‘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.
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NOTE: You can email your QUESTION for the SUNNYGOVAN hustings to the email below……
Friday 15 April at 7.30pm: West End Hustings in St Mary’s Cathedral, Great Western Road. Candidates from the Scottish Labour Party, Scottish Conservatives, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Scottish National Party and Scottish Green Party expected. A representative from Christian Aid Scotland will also be on the panel. All the Holyrood candidates are standing for the Glasgow Regional list so what they have to say will be relevant to voters across the city.
Tuesday 26 April at 7pm: Southside Community Hustings in Kinning Park Church. Nicola Sturgeon, Stephen Curran, David Meikle and Kenneth Elder have agreed to attend. Hosted by Sunny Govan Radio, the event will be chaired by Jim Boyle of Oxfam. If you have questions you’d like to ask this panel please email: email@example.com or phone 0141 445 3741
Sunday 1 May at 7pm: Langside Church if the builders have completed work on the new building, or in the David Cargill Centre, 166 Ledard Road, Glasgow G42 9EU, if not. Candidates for Glasgow Cathcart on a Question Time type of panel: Eileen Baxendale, Scottish Liberal Democrats: James Dornan, Scottish National Party: Charlie Gordon, Scottish Labour Party: John McKee Independent: Richard Sullivan, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party.
Hyndland Secondary School is the first to get organised for hustings in advance of the Scottish Parliament elections in May. They have a question time programmed for Friday 11 March in the school.
Line-up as confirmed this week, will include MSPs Pauline McNeil (Labour), Bill Aitken (Conservative), Sandra White (SNP) and Patrick Harvie (Green) with a celebratory Question Master awaiting confirmation.
By Martin Graham
Around 150 people filled a hall at the David Cargill Centre on Ledard Road to hear six political candidates outline their views and policy positions for the forthcoming Westminster election on May 6.
The event was organised by Langside Parish Church, who are currently using the David Cargill Centre as a base until their own church across the road is rebuilt following a fire.
With Minister David McLachlan chairing the event, the panel members were; Brian Smith – Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition. Brian is a social worker and Unison rep from Castlemilk; Malcolm Fleming – SNP – Malcolm works for an international aid agency and lives in Shawlands; Shabnum Mustapha – Lib Dem – Shabnum works for a disability charity and lives in Shawlands; Davena Rankin – Conservative – Davena is a manager and Unison rep at Glasgow Caledonian University; Marie Campbell – Green – Marie works for Patrick Harvie MSP; Tom Harris MP – Labour – Tom is the sitting MP, and has held the seat since June 2001.
Each candidate spoke well, with Tom Harris in particular holding forth on his own views and making clear the difference between his opinions and the rest of the panel.
Questions from the floor provided good opportunities for the panel to expand on their answers and develop their views. It became apparent that in terms of policy, there was little to differentiate the parties.
The first question sought the panel’s views on Trident replacement – the £20bn plans to replace the submarines, missiles and warheads which make up the UK’s nuclear deterrent.
All candidates except Tom Harris and Davena Rankin spoke against Trident. The panel said that it was illegal, immoral and unnecessary.
Shabnum Mustapaha spoke in favour of a strategic defence review.
Tom Harris said that Trident may not be necessary for today but that we could not leave future generations without defences. He said that it was difficult to judge the situation from the comfort which Trident provided.
Marie Campbell stated that the money would be better spent on sustainable jobs, and Brian Smith said that our children would be pleased that we had got rid of Trident as it only encourages nuclear ambition in other countries.
The next question for consideration was immigration policy. Chairman David McLachlan explained about the Citizens for Sanctuary campaign pledge which each candidate was asked to sign. The pledge states that asylum seekers should be treated humanely, not locked up, and have the right to contribute to the UK while here, through working.
Tom Harris said that he would not sign the pledge as it would send a message that the UK is a soft touch and that relatively large sums of money could be earned by anyone coming here. All other candidates signed the pledge on the night.
Malcolm Fleming stated that most asylum seekers are genuine and that there were genuine ‘push factors’ which led to people seeking asylum in the UK, like the conflict in Somalia.
Malcolm said: ‘The Labour government is a disgrace and the word asylum is now a term of abuse. People arrive with skills then lose them because they cannot practice them.’
Davena Rankin committed to signing the pledge, saying :’The way we treat asylum seekers is a reflection on our society. Only 20-30,000 people per year seek asylum, and Dungavel is a disgrace.
Shabnum Mustapha said: ‘We should deport failed asylum seekers quickly. We have a proud tradition of welcoming refugees, and the UK is 17th in the list of developed countries for receiving refugees.’
Tom Harris said that it was a tough choice between locking up families together with their children or separating them. He had spoken to the Home Office about people spending too long in Dungavel before deportation.
Davena Rankin said: ‘The current asylum system is unfair, there are other ways to prepare families for departure, such as supported accommodation flats.’
At this point, an audience member asked if the Labour and Tory candidates had got their rosettes mixed up.
The candidates were asked what they would do to ensure climate change remained on the political agenda.
Shabnum Mustapha outlined LibDem plans to convert shipyards to make wind and wave power equipment. Davena Rankin confirmed Tory opposition to a third runway at Heathrow.
Malcolm Fleming explained how the SNP had implemented climate change legislation at Holyrood. Marie Campbell stated that the Greens would use the opportunity to rebuild society on a sustainable basis and overcome poverty in the process.
Brian Smith said: ‘Capitalism is the problem because resources are used in an unplanned system where growth is the only measure of success. We need a global perspective to overcome poverty. The Copenhagen climate conference failed because of China’s capitalist ambitions.’
Marie Campbell said that climate capture technology was largely unproved and that nuclear technology is expensive and unsafe.
One audience member raised the issue of potholes. All panel members agreed that the issue needed to be resolved.
Shabnum Mustapha suggested planting flowers in the holes, while Aileen Campbell pointed out that money spent on expensive projects like the Forth Bridge replacement and the M74 extension could be better used to repair the local road network.
Finally, the issue of banks was put to the panel. The Greens and Lib Dems favoured separating High Street banks from investment banks, with the Green favouring a ‘Robin Hood’ tax on bank profits to be re-invested in social enterprises.
The SNP candidate pointed out that the other G7 countries were still practising fiscal stimulus while the UK had stopped.
Brian Smith spoke in favour of a socially planned economy with banks in public ownership. Davena Rankin spoke in favour of regulating the banking sector, without the ‘light touch’ approach which created so many problems in recent years.
Towards the end, Malcolm Fleming quoted Scottish trade union legend Jimmy Reid, who said: ‘I didn’t leave the Labour Party, the party left me.’
An attentive audience of more than 100 people attended the Sunday night hustings held by the West End group of churches under the banner of ACTS – Action of Churches Together in Hillhead Baptist Church. Taking the place of most denominations’ evening service, the meeting gave all the Glasgow North Constituency candidates an opportunity to answer voters’ questions. These covered issues from the Royal Bank of Scotland’s damaging environmental involvement to improving the lot of asylum seekers and priorities on extending the powers of the Scottish Parliament.
Deftly chaired by retired minister the Rev. Dr Norman Shanks, the line-up included current Westminster MP Ann McKechin (Labour) who is being closely challenged by Katy Gordon (Lib Dem) and Patrick Grady (SNP). But the other candidates – Martin Bartos (Green Party), Angela Mc Cormick (Scottish Trade Union and Socialist Coalition) and Richard Sullivan standing in for Erin Boyle (Conservative and Unionist) – gave positive contributions which left quite a few listeners admitting they felt unsure of where they would place their vote on Thursday 6 May. Thomas Main (British National Party) did not attend.
The hustings panel agreed that every vote counted in this election and could make a positive difference.
A further churches organised hustings will take place in Ruchill Parish Church, 15-17 Shakespeare Street, Glasgow G20 8TH at 7pm on Sunday 2 May.
And a service of prayer for the general election will take place in Kelvinside Hillhead Church, Observatory Road, off Byres Road at 7.30pm on Wednesday 5 May, the eve of voting.