Last night I had the pleasure to go to a Hustings in Tooting in the lead-up to the election on the 6th of May.
In my mind, there was only one winner, Sadiq Khan. Sadiq spoke passionately and authoritatively on issues that local Tooting residents face everyday. Affordable high-quality university places; protecting our economy from double dip recession; protection for developing world communities and our own shores from the threat of devastating climate change; sweeping voting reform to get rid of the first past the post system that is clearly flawed; and importantly for me on a personal level, a real and understanding answer on immigration.
Sadiq put all of his points in the context of Tooting, how these issues will affect us as residents. Sadiq outlined how he and Labour have worked to ensure Tooting is a great place to live. This has resulted in lower unemployment, better schools and a vastly improved St George’s Hospital. As he said in his opening address, as a Tooting boy born and bred, he “walks in our shoes”, so by using the same services and amenities as the rest of us, he understands what issues are important to we residents.
The other candidates ranged from the slick to the all over the place. The UKIP representative was the consummate stereotype of his party, anti-Europe, pro public service cuts, anti-climate change. The Green candidate was very amusing and thoughtful in his answers, many of which I support and applaud, but he will be the first to admit he has no chance under the first-past-the-post system, something Labour is going to change if they get back in and the public choose the Alternative Vote Plus system in a referendum. The Independent seems passionate on her issues, but again can’t win because of the electoral system. The Lib-Dem didn’t get the support that the Clegg bounce would have assured him and Mr Clarke of the Conservatives was slick, but his points were straight from the Tory manifesto, rather than focusing on Tooting issues. Sadiq has proven himself to be a MP who will fight for Tooting residents and I don’t know if we would get that to the same extent from any other candidate.
I also question the debate format. There was no real opportunity for acutal debate or rebuttal. Each speaker had two minutes to make his point and move on, thereby leaving no time for rebuttal or proper discussion.
All-in-all it was a fascinating night and it raised many questions about the viability about many of the candidates in my mind.