Apr. 14th, 2016

Hustings.

Apr. 14th, 2016 10:30 pm
rhythmaning: (Armed Forces)
I have just been at the hustings for the Holyrood elections next month. What with the constituency (Edinburgh N & Leith) and the list (Lothian), there were nine candidates (ten on the ballot, but Solidarity didn't show up), frankly too many to stay interested in the question. Several of the candidates were the same as at the Westminster election last year; but not the candidates who resonated then. Of the nine, two were women, all were white, and none had any apparent disability.

There were eight questions over ninety minutes, covering:
  • tax (the dog-whistle issue in this election) - most would raise tax by 1p, except SNP, Tories and UKIP
  • what they would spend any tax raised in (frankly the much more important topic) - out of a choice of NHS, education or council services, most went for NHS, education AND council services (including the SNP, which is ironic since over the last five years the SNP have underspent the NHS budget!); the LibDem and Labour stance on using tax raising powers to invest in education are clear
  • what private members bill would they raise (the consensus seemed to be "housing")
  • what to do about Police Scotland (which is in a mess following centralisation), the consensus being localisation and local accountability (even the guy from the SNP)
  • the living wage (I was getting bored by now and didn't really pay attention)
  • tuition fees, where there was a typical left/right split - SNP, Labour, Greens and LibDems keeping universities free; Tories and UKIP wanting to introduce fees to pay for better universities. Labour, the Tories and RISE held the SNP to account on their cutting of FE college places
  • supermarkets v local shops and the use of planning rules, which I didn't really follow much
  • and the last question which I don't remember, and I left at that point anyway.


The team I play for (!), the LibDems, frankly put up a poor speaker (same candidate as last year, Martin Veart), and he didn't impress then or now. The way the election in the constituency goes, I don't think he has a chance, and I'll probably be voting tactically again. (God I hate the FPTP system.) They will get my vote for the Lothian list, where, should he not be successful in the Edinburgh Western constituency, we have a pretty strong candidate topping the list.

I was surprisingly impressed by the Labour candidate, Lesley Hinds, who is a councillor I've come across and didn't rate. She spoke with conviction, attacked the SNP government its failures over the last nine years and was the most convincing speaker.

The guy from RISE ("Respect, Independence, Socialism and Environmentalism", a left wing alliance), Calum Martin, was also rather impressive, which came as a surprise to me. (This says more about me than him.) He was articulate, had some interesting ideas, and had conviction. But probably unelectable - they're only standing on the list, so won't get my vote.

The UKIP guy was absolutely hopeless. He waffled, he deviated from the question, and I don't think he has a chance. He even lacked the charm of Coburn...

The Tory boy is also unelectable, I'd say, particularly given the disdain most people hold for the Tory government in Westminster. He held his own, but basically toed the party line.

The Green candidate, Andy Wightman, lacked the charisma of their candidate last year. They're only standing on the list, too.

The Women's Equality Party candidate, Lee Chalmers, was interesting. Another list-only party, every question was answered through the lens of equality. Which of course is why they're there, but seemed a bit limiting. Still, she said she didn't know in answer to one or two questions, which was refreshing.

The SNP candidate, Ben MacPherson, seemed to try to be contrite, but had to toe the party line. He'll probably get the constituency vote, though.

The audience was curious, as it was last year.  There was no heckling. I wanted to, but clearly felt restrained by the New Town respectability. For the first fifteen or twenty minutes there was no applause, either. We just sat politely listening. After that there was a smattering of applause, particularly for Labour, SNP and the Greens, but frankly no one seemed to be getting that excited.

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