Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Final Debates

The series of Sittingbourne and Sheppey debates came to an end this week.

Firstly, on Monday, Gordon, Angela and I went to the Isle of Sheppey Academy to meet 16-18 year olds where we were questioned about local issues and politics in general.

Then in the afternoon Gordon and I met again at Highsted school in Sittingbourne for a discussion about school transport. Contrary to my last entry, Labour did indeed send a representative in the form of the legendary Roger Truelove, a well-known and very experienced local councillor, and we were joined by a representative from Kent County Council and the police.

I found this second debate quite tough – the subject matter was rather narrow and were with matters primarily relating to Kent County Council. Hence Gordon and Roger are much more experienced than I on local county issues and were able to give better answers. I got in our party policy on public transport and policing however.

The final debate was the Churches Together event at The Church in Hope Street, Sheerness. This was advertised and open to the public. Issues raised included Trident, the rights of Christians, hung parliaments, human rights, drinking hours and our local ambitions as an MP. To my surprise, immigration, the most common issue raised on the doorsteps, did not come up. Sitting next to the chairman, I could see a question coming about energy to which I would have had a great answer but, alas, we didn’t get to it.

This was a good debate. Heated discussions went to and fro, the audience got their say and generally we all answered the questions. It was also well conducted and chaired.

Gordon was less dominating than previously and came across well. I even found myself agreeing with some of his answers – which is a worrying precedent. Angela had her best debate of the series also with some good answers. As neither Europe, immigration nor the economy came up then Ian of UKIP didn’t really have much to bite on, but fended off the BNP. David Cassidy, an Independent of whom I know nothing, showed an independent spirit.

I managed to answer the questions without too many problems but, as I am not used to addressing 200 people, had to resort to the microphone to be heard.

The BNP candidate and three colleagues were present but of course were not invited onto the panel. We were anticipating some sort of onslaught but instead they carried out a rather weak attack on Ian regarding an email he is alleged to have sent.

That’s all the debates. Six in all, five of them alongside Gordon, four with Angela and three with Ian, so we have got to know each other fairly well. They have all been fun but also hard work. And we will next meet on Thursday at the count!

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