General Election debate 2010 – Hammersmith
Ealing, Hammersmith & West London College
Friday 30th April 2010
Hammersmith candidates and panelists: Andrew Slaughter (Labour); Merlene Emerson (LibDem); Shaun Bailey (Conservative); Rollo Miles (Green) and Stephen Brennan (Independent).
Host: Kate Smurthwaite
Last night I went to the Tiemo Talk of the Town organised political meeting to see who will be the local MP for Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush, held at the local College of Further Education. I was half interested to see inside the school but the bits I got to see were not that thrilling. It looks like one of those buildings that architects give one another prizes for (this one got third prize). Like most modern buildings it was difficult to find the front door and had the added diversion of steps that were campaigning to be ramps. A sort of hung entrance.
There were four candidates on show: an independent who could scarcely string two words together, a Conservative, whose words seemed to be a on a string straight from Conservative Central office, a no strings liberal Democrat, and the Sitting MP, Mr Andrew Slaughter, who no longer needs his strings, he even wears his rosette at exactly the right angle.
The lady in charge (Kate Smurthwaite) was not really brutal enough and let the Labour and Conservative candidates begin round 18 of a sparring match against one another. The Labour guy did land one professional punch: that the Conservative gets his campaign heavily subsidised by a well wisher to the tune of Fifty Thousand. I had been wondering how I have had six separate leaflets about him delivered through my letter box, whereas the others have managed one each.
I have also had people from the Conservative Party at the front door including a yuppie with the last velvet collared coat in captivity – he was trying hard to dress down by not wearing a tie, but you could see it did not come naturally.
Kate let the questions get bogged down in education matters. If I had to vote for one candidate it would have been the Liberal Democrat lady, who didnt have the greatest grasp of politics but somehow struck me as more humane then the men from the other two major parties. She made the extremely good point of how few women there are in the House of Commons and how few immigrants. In New York they call people like her twofers (two for the price of one – female and an immigrant). Merlene had enough humour that she could have used this as her political slogan.
Afterwards I asked Shaun Bailey the Conservative, what his policy was on drugs, and he is against legalising them, which is standard Conservative policy, but he also worked for six years as a drug counsellor which made me think he might be in favour of decriminalisation, but he is against, on the grounds that alcohol is legalised, and causes far more problems than drugs, which is true, but it also seems to me that the total prohibition on drugs has had disastrous effects – much of the low level crime is caused by people hooked on drugs – not least from Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush.
Mr Bailey was also vehemently against prisoners getting the vote, which seemed to me a trivial issue, given the hard times that are clearly coming, and as I tripped down the steps on way home I wondered how many of his ex drug clients now ensconced in Wormwoods Scrubs, which I think is in this constituency, would vote for him ?
Independent reviewer: The Fore Hoarsemen of the apocalypse