Nada Jarche reports from the GLA campaign’s only hustings
event, which took place at West Thames College on 17 April
The debate at West Thames College was well attended by
students and four parties were invited. Tony Arbour (Conservative) and Lisa Homan (Labour Party), who are both standing for the south west London constituency were joined by Merlene Emmerson of the Liberal Democrats (who is one of their list candidates) and the Green Party’s Susanna Rustin (who is standing in the neighbouring West Central constituency). The issues that were discussed were the educational maintenance allowance (EMA), university fees, transport, litter and crime.
Each candidate had four minutes to introduce themselves and say what they will be discussing about in the debate.
Tony Arbour talked mostly about business and how London is nothing without business. He ended his speech, enigmatically, by saying: ‘For evil to triumph, it only takes good men to do nothing.’
Susanna Rustin said she got involved in politics because she is concerned about the city and the world and said: ‘I’m worried that most young people will not have the same opportunity that I had.’ She said the three main issues in the election are housing, transport and the environment.
Lisa Homan spoke about what Ken Livingstone would do if he was elected as mayor and how she would support him as the assembly candidate. She said that we need to help young people and let them feel that they are
working towards something in the future.
‘One of the biggest things that Ken Livingston is offering to do is to reinstate the EMA for young people between 16 and 19 years old in London who want to stay on at college, who want to learn and want to prepare for their future.’ She explained how that can be done which is by meeting councillors, the GLA, and education
Lisa Homan also spoke about how most people cannot afford transport and that Ken is going to cut the fares by 7% in October and, if he doesn’t, he will resign as mayor. When he cuts fares, he will freeze them for a year,
which means the bus fare will come down to £1.20.
Labour’s GLA candidate said it is important for the local community to work across generations to make sure that there are good community relations with the police. Ken Livingstone will restore police officers to their 2010 level, also get back in community and work on police harassing youth and youth robbery. She ended by saying: ‘Ken Livingstone will do his best and you get this commitment from me that, if I’m elected, I will be out there talking to you after 3 May.’
Marlene Emmerson said this election is not just an election for the Mayor, it’s also a vote for the 25 GLA candidates. She said a lot of people have no voice, their voices are missing, and that there has not been a politician from the third world. She spoke about the state of the city today and how the streets were damaged by the riots last year. She mostly spoke about ethnic minorities in the UK and how they have no voice, but also about the economy and policing.
Questions and answers
In the question and answer session, one of the questions was about EMA and what each party is going to do about it. Tony Arbour’s answer was that there was not enough money to fund it and it is not his responsibility. Susanna Rustin answered this, saying that they will campaign to restore funding for 16-20 years old in England. Lisa Homan said the Labour Party are the only party that is willing to bring back the money for EMA. Marlene Emmerson contested this by saying that the EMA has been replaced, but there is not enough funding.
There was a question asked about transport and Tony Arbour said that people who have 24/7 freedom pass access have Boris Johnson to thank for that. Susanna Rustin said that most people use public transport (something that Tony Arbour recently said was not the case) and that most of us agree it’s a hugely important service and that it has to work for the city to be economically competitive. Lisa Homan said that everyone uses public transport at some point and the fares going up is not making it anymore helpful, so in order to get the people using it again we need to make transport affordable – as well as getting more cars off the road to make less congestion on the road. Marlene Emmerson said that it’s important for London’s economy to have an efficient transport system, because of the cost of time for people who are late for work and lose time.
Tony Arbour made himself look embarrassing by making no sense when answering questions, not answering the correct question or going off the point of the question. Lisa Homan said what the Labour Party is going to do
if Ken Livingston wins the election for Mayor and how he would support young people. Marlene Emmerson mainly spoke about ethnic minorities and how Brian Padddick would help the city.
Although this was the only hustings involving the two GLA candidates from the major parties for South West London constituency, it received only one page in the Hounslow Chronicle and was not covered at all by the W4 or TW8 websites.