Hustings are daunting for all candidates, no matter how experienced, but particularly for first time candidates, so last night we held a mock hustings for first time candidates; our panel were Charlotte Leslie MP and Stephen O'Brien MP in the hotseat, being grilled by Tim Montgomerie of the Times. Also present was myself, playing an assorted number of roles from a stroppy Ukip candidate, to a Green candidate attempting to channel my inner Natalie Bennett, to a diehard Labour Union man / sometime old style 1970s throwback socialist.
We invited all the Women 2 Win candidates , plus everyone connected to Conservative Friends of International Development for a training session that lasted an hour and which featured set questions on matters of faith, conscience, international development, and some general questions both from Tim and the floor. Over 50 candidates attended and the feedback has been brilliant, both in praise of the two MPs and Tim, who gave up his time for free to play the role of the inquisitor. It is much appreciated by the organisers and all the candidates.
The questions discussed included the following:
• Should the Government commit to spending 0.7% of GNI on international development, and is international aid a good thing?
• Are we the World’s policeman / was intervention in Libya and non intervention in Syria a good or bad thing?
FAITH / FREE VOTE MATTERS
• How would you have voted on Gay Marriage?
• What are your views on assisted dying?
• What are your views on self-selected abortion?
• What are your views on mitochondrial donation?
• Are you in favour of stem-cell research?
• How much should we spend on defence spending?
• Would you as an MP support the renewal of Trident in 2016?
• What are your views on Israel /Palestine, and various Middle East questions, notably Syria and Iraq?
• Several questions on the best way to alleviate poverty / food banks?
• What is your stance on Europe / views on whether we should have a referendum?
• If an MP is also a practising GP [The example of Dr Sarah Woolaston MP / Dr Philip Lee MP were cited] should he/she be prevented from doing this second job if it does not interfere with his work as an MP?
A good night for one and all and a very spirited debate. Clearly there are many more topics we could have debated but just dealing with these matters took over 1 and a 1/2 hours, and our focus was on international development, Britain's role in the world and faith / free vote matters. My thanks to all the W2W & CFID organisers and our volunteer panel.