OVO hosts election hustings with local Bristol candidates
By Robert Jeffery Thursday 09 April 2015
The General Election is a mere four weeks away. With Labour and the Conservatives neck and neck in the polls and the rise to prominence of several smaller parties, it’s anyone’s guess who will form the next Government. With all the parties vying for attention on the airwaves and the doorstep it can be tricky to work out just what they stand for and what they’d do nationally and locally.
We decided to make things a little simpler for our staff by hosting our very own hustings at our Bristol offices last night. What’s a hustings I hear you say? Well, it’s an interactive “town hall” style meeting where local candidates are invited to present their respective party and local manifestos before taking questions from the audience.
In front of a packed atrium, the Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem and Green candidates for the Bristol West constituency (OVO’s local seat) were grilled by our Head of Corporate Affairs Jessica Lennard. Before opening up to a general Q and A, we focused the chaired discussion on the issues closest to our employees’ hearts. Not surprisingly, energy and environmental policy was first on the agenda.
Lib Dem candidate Stephen Williams pointed to his parties ‘Five Green Laws’ to protect the environment. Standing in for Labour candidate Thangam Debbonaire, Kye Dudd hoped to win over voters by pointing to Labour’s promise of a price freeze. Looking at the bigger picture, the Green candidate Darren Hall wanted to see a zero-waste circular economy and an energy system fully powered by renewable energy. The Conservative candidate Claire Hiscott pointed to the Conservative led Government’s record on increasing investment in renewables, setting up the Green Investment Bank and rolling out the Green Deal.
From left to right – Darren Hall (Green), Kye Judd (Labour), Claire Hiscott (Conservative) and Stephen Williams (Lib Dem)
On healthcare, discussion focussed on NHS funding, GP hours, mental health and the hotly contested issue of whether the NHS should remain wholly in public hands. The discussion on transport covered increasing rail fares and the need to improve local bus and cycling routes. The audience also challenged the candidates on tackling the deficit, international trade agreements, the cost of housing in Bristol and tuition fees.
Concluding, Stephen Williams said the Lib Dems would moderate government spending to ensure the electorate are given a fair deal and the economy is safeguarded. Kye Dudd suggested that Labour’s policies such as a price freeze, capping rail fares, and more spending on NHS staff would raise living standards. Darren Hall reminded the audience of the Green Party’s new approach to tackling current problems through social and environmental justice. Claire Hiscott defended the Tory record and reminded voters that only a strong economy can ensure public services can be fully funded and effective.
Hopefully this has given our employees some food for thought over the coming weeks before polling day. Thanks for all of those who took part!