Sunday, April 18, 2010

Local democracy in action?

The political hustings hosted by Utrophia yesterday evening was organised by two pressure groups: No2ID and Power 2010 (see links at the foot of this post). All five parliamentary candidates for Lewisham Deptford took part: Joan Ruddock (Lab), Ian Page (Trade Union & Socialist), Tam Langley (Lib Dem), Darren Johnson (Green) and Gemma Townsend (Conservative). Bill Ellson (Deptford Community Forum) chaired and took questions from a full house.

Topics discussed included: homelessness and lack of social housing, the present state of local youth offending facilities, MP's expenses and trustworthiness, immigration, and the peak oil crisis. The peak oil debate sparked a bit of unruly heckling from a crusty conspiracy theorist, followed by an interruption from a young black man (one of the very few there) who wanted answers about poor and overcrowded social housing and lack of jobs (unfortunately it was felt that his contribution was irrelevant to the subject in hand). The event was brought to a close with words from No2ID and Power 2010. Many people stayed behind to talk to the candidates, and Power 2010 managed to get most of the candidates to sign up for electoral reform.

I cannot report without bias: I thought it was all a bit dull with little or no emphasis on local matters (apart for the first question about housing, homelessness and the youth offending service). I didn't get to ask any questions (eg what to do about the proliferation of bookmakers, air pollution around the Deptford incinerator, why Deptford station is still a shithole, or more broadly, what about reinstating the 10p in the £1 taxband for low earners etc)...I was pleased to find Darren Johnson looks much better in the flesh than he does on his election leaflets (scary!) and he came across well. Tam Langley was quietly concise. There was a bit of argy bargy between Ian Page and Joan. Gemma seemed awfully young to be speaking on such weighty matters. It was interesting to note that there were three women to two men, that Joan is against Trident, that Darren would scrap the Right To Buy, and that Ian thinks climate change can only be tackled by abolishing capitalism.

Deptford Visions has written up an entertaining account with some nice photography here.

Power 2010 - Join the movement to change politics

No2ID - Stop the database state


I took notes at the beginning of this event, but I stopped when the answers seem to grow predictable, and too lengthy for a post here, but you can read a more detailed report from another blogger Notes Of An Idealist here.


  1. Thanks for the Deptford Visions link, Sue.

    It's a curious state of affairs when it takes single issue pressure groups such as Power2010 and No2ID working together to pin down candidates in the area. It gives a very strong clue about the state of local democracy.

  2. Indeed.

    Mary wrote in with another link:

    'Voters deserve open and honest engagement with the people fighting for their support, so they can make a proper choice when it comes to polling day.'

  3. Thanks for the link to I've published a few more photos of the event at

    Totally agree with Marmoset's comment. Unbelievable really

  4. Maybe they could organise another hustings for the mayoral candidates, then local issues would be on the agenda?