The second round of public debates for Tatton candidates


Last night I attended a local debate for Tatton candidates at Wilmslow High School. George Osborne was unable to attend, because he was taking part in Britain's first chancellors debate on Channel 4, but the challengers to his seat Sarah Flannery (Independent), Michael Gibson (The True English (Poetry) Party), Richard Jackson (Labour) and David Lomax (Liberal Democrat) were all present.

The debate was chaired by Wilmslow resident Dave Cash who said "I felt there was a need for a local public debate, rather than just TV leader debates and candidate leaflets through the letterbox."

Each candidate was given 90 seconds to introduce themselves. Richard Jackson went first and said that with the exception of Michael Gibson, he is the only candidate that actually resides in the constituency which he felt was "incredible really". Richard lives in Wilmslow, works locally as a vet and is a trustee for MIND. He feels it matters that your MP is local because "your problems are my problems".

David Lomax is 54 years old and lives in Whaley Bridge, though he did say that he would relocate to the constituency if elected. David, a teacher and Borough Councillor for High Peak, stressed his disappointment over the sleaze issues, which he felt had done a great disservice to politics.

Michael Gibson described himself as "something of a sideshow, a poetician rather than a politician" who isn't looking for votes but rather looking for a party to vote for - he said he was here to listen. Michael came to Tatton in 1980 so he has lived here for over 30 years and he was deeply involved in the campaign objecting to Runway 2 at Manchester Airport.

Sarah Flannery lived in Tatton for 26 years but now resides in Davenham. She runs her own marketing business and has two grown up daughters. Sarah explained that she first got involved in politics in 1997 when she realised, through Martin Bell, what an independent candidate can do for an area. Sarah said "no one person or party has got all the answers."

The panel then moved on to answer questions which had been submitted by the public, many of whom were in the audience, though these questions had not been shared with the candidates in advance of the debate. They were questioned about their views on national debt, whether VAT should be increased, preferred voting systems for the House of Commons, immigration and minimum age for criminal responsibility.

A couple of local planning issues were touched upon, including the Tesco store in Alderley Edge. Sarah Flannery stated that planning is a mess, which seems to work in isolation and is very difficult for communities to influence. Richard Jackson added that it is outrageous that that the building was built too high and that they should have been made to remove the top off the building and rebuild.

The serious discussion was broken up by a more light hearted moment when Dave Cash asked the candidates what law they would introduce if they were made Prime Minister. David Lomax spoke about protecting civil liberties and a written constitution, then laughter broke out when a member of the audience responded by asking "What did you say about legalising prostitution?". David replied "I said I'd introduce a written constitution, and free hearing tests."

Candidates were then invited to provide closing statements. Again Richard Jackson went first and said he wanted to end on an optimistic note by saying we live in a lovely place and should remember that. Richard said he was lucky to have been born and raised in the constituency, where he has chosen to settle and it would be a huge honour to represent the area.

David Lomax spoke about the big discrepancies within the Tatton constituency and said if you vote for him and the Liberal Democrats he believes they can make it fairer.

Michael Gibson concluded by reading two limericks, which touched upon matters which had not been dealt with, and Sarah Flannery said she really believes that we need to see values translated into actions we're proud of and in Tatton we have got a unique opportunity to set a new benchmark for democratic and political excellence.

Speaking after the debate, organiser Dave Cash said, "We have provided a good base which we can hopefully expand upon in the future. I am quite happy not to organise the next one but I just wanted to make sure that there was the opportunity:"

Unfortunately only about 12 members of the public were in the audience, along with a representative for George Osborne and Peter Mainwaring, who recently dropped out of the race to provide his support to independent candidate Sarah Flannery. Whilst this allowed for a more initimate discussion, with the candidates coming down from the stage to sit just infront of the audience, it was disappointing not to see a bigger turn out.

Brian McGavin, Wilmslow resident and geo-political analyst, said "The debate was dissapointingly less well attended than the opening debate a week ago and there were far too few young people in the audience. Our children face a very challenging future in a world of rapidly diminshing resources and they need to get involved in issues that are likely to affect them significantly.

"Sadly, the candidates spent much of the debate kicking the usual political footballs on education, health and crime, where ever more money is spent to little effect. We need to hear more than the same recycled cliches of 'change' and 'opportunity for all'. We need to think about a sustainable rather than endless growth economy."

Earlier in the day the general public had also been invited to a debate which was organised by, and for Wilmslow High School students. Teacher Andrew Ingram said "The aim was to bring the General election into the school, which will also be holding a mock General Election on May 6th to show students the importance of elections to our democratic society."

Three of the Tatton candidates also attended the afternoon debate along with Ben Jeffries, the Conservative candidate for Cheadle Hulme. The event was hosted by Anwen Jones, a year 12 student, and the audience of about 120 included a mixture of first time voters, local residents and younger school students.

All of the questions at the afternoon debate were provided by the students, covering topics such as: the merits of private education, how to close the achievement gap between rich and poor students, access to local play areas, immigration, how can Britain reduce its CO2 immissions, should the voting age be reduced to 16 and is Britain's foreign policy imperialistic and out of date?

What can your local candidates do to win your vote? Let us and them know by posting a comment below.

For further information regarding the Tatton candidates, their priorities and why you should vote for them see our latest article The Tatton candidates explained

Visit our article Election 2010 Result: George Osborne wins Tatton seat for a full report live from the count.

Pictured above: Sarah Flannery, David Lomax, Richard Jackson and Michael Gibson.

Debates, General Election, Tatton Constituency, Wilmslow High School


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Alan Burton
Monday 26th April 2010 at 3:31 pm
I would have loved to attend but I did not know this was taking place. Perhaps if it had been better publicised more people would have turned up. It must have been quite demoralising for the candidates to be debating in front of only 12 people.
Lisa Reeves
Monday 26th April 2010 at 6:36 pm
I'm really sorry you missed the debate Alan. I did put an article up the week before informing our readers that it was being held but I agree if it had been better publicised more people might have attended.

Whilst the latest news appears on the home page it is always worth checking the News & Opinion section for the previous articles, because at times we can be adding a lot of new articles so they can disappear off the home page after a day or so - for example last week 20 news stories were placed on the site.

I also add all the events we are aware of to our events calendar, which can be searched by month or category.

The next batch of Upcoming Events always appear on the home page so hopefully this will provide a snap shot of what is happening locally in the next few days.
Alan Burton
Monday 26th April 2010 at 7:09 pm
Thanks Lisa. I actually only found your site today when searching for info on our local candidates. I'll know where to look in future!
Anthony Dillon
Wednesday 28th April 2010 at 10:26 am
I wish I’d known about the debate too – I would really like to have attended. I too only came across your site whilst looking for candidates! Anyway, it’s in my favourites now!