28th April, 2015

Party Political Candidates from all the main parties were all invited to attend the Nova Election Hustings on 20 April.

Assembly Election 2015

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We weren’t quite sure what to expect, having never organised a Hustings before! As politics has the power to raise strong opinions in people we wondered: how would the audience receive the candidates and would people turn up unexpectedly? 

Party Political Candidates from all the main parties were all invited to attend the Nova Election Hustings. The Conservatives, Labour, Green Party, Liberal Democrats and UKIP were all represented at the event. At the time of organising, candidates from marginal parties had not been announced and so we didn’t have Yorkshire First, Cannabis is Safer Alcohol or Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition represented, although they are all standing in various constituencies within the district. 

The anticipation of the audience was clear, as everyone turned up punctually and we started on the dot of 6.30pm without the need to ask people to take their seats – very unusual! 

The panel had drawn lots to decide who would kick off the opening pitches and Mary Creagh for Labour took to the stage first with a confident speech – cut off at the 2 minute point. Mary was followed by Alan Hazelhurst from UKIP, Mary MacQueen representing the Liberal Democrats, the Conservative candidate Antony Calvert and finally Stuart Boothman for the Green Party. 

The Hustings chair, Alison Haskins (Nova's CEO), set down the ground rules and each panel member was given 90 seconds to respond to questions from the audience. The focus of the questions was particularly on the Voluntary and Community sector but the panel members were not given prior knowledge of the exact questions, which had been submitted by people attending the event and chosen by Nova in advance. 

The responses were varied and interesting and demonstrated differing levels of awareness of our sector. In the main the panel stuck to answering the question which was refreshing! We didn’t let them off lightly and there was some telling body language at times... 

Some themes that emerged were: creating a living wage; changing zero-hours contracts to make them fairer; and keeping the NHS free at the point of access. 

The final pre-selected question from the audience was an interesting one. The panel were asked if they thought a parliament with no overall majority would be a desirable outcome following the election. The responses were diverse bringing up devolution, reforming the voting system and the risk of any party considering a coalition with the SNP. 

The audience were visibly engaged with the panel’s responses throughout. When the pre-selected questions had run their course lots of hands went up to ask further quick-fire questions of the panel. 

We’d like to thank all the candidates for coming along and giving an insight into their parties’ manifestos for the forthcoming election. We encourage you to use your vote on 7 May, and to ensure that the voluntary and community sector is supported by whichever party (or parties!) form the next UK government.

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