Editor’s comment: Hustings gave plenty of food for thought
PUBLISHED: 09:00 27 May 2017 | UPDATED: 08:36 13 June 2017
As I’m writing this, campaigning for the General Election has been suspended in the wake of Monday night’s atrocity in Manchester.
It feels a little odd to be talking about politics at a time when not even politicians are doing so. Manchester was my home for a number of years and I know both the arena and the surrounding streets well, so I too have my mind on events outside Hackney.
But the election is going ahead regardless of how we feel, and until Monday night I, like many, was thinking of little else. And the truth is that the decisions we all make on June 8 will have an impact, even though we may not feel like thinking about it after such a horrific attack.
I’d originally meant to use this space to pore over the at times bizarre Hackney South and Shoreditch hustings I attended at St Peter’s Church on Monday.
It was to the candidates’ credit that eight out of 10 turned out, including representatives of all the main parties. Rev Julia Porter-Pryce, meanwhile, did a great job of chairing and the church is a beautiful building.
I did kind of wonder why Angel Watt, who simply read out her party’s manifesto, had turned up; or what had inspired the largely incoherent Dale Kalamazad to part with his deposit. But independent Hugo Sugg, and Jonty Leff from the Workers’ Revolutionary Party, impressed me with their obvious passion and refusal to mince their words.
The last question was on press regulation – and perhaps more poignant than some realised. We had been banned from live-streaming the event by its own organisers.
And while all the candidates broadly supported press freedom, never more so than at election time is it obvious: state regulation of free speech is a terrifying idea, because who knows who will be part of that state tomorrow?