Hammersmith & Chiswick hustings – residents give their response

Image: (L to R) Labour’s Andy Slaughter, Liberal Democrat Eraj Rostaqi, Conservative Andrew Dinsmore, The Green Party’s Naranee Ruthra-Rajan, Editor of The Chiswick Calendar Bridget Osborne

The Chiswick Calendar’s hustings at George IV, Sunday 23 June

Voters gathered on Sunday evening (23 June) at The George IV pub for the general election hustings hosted by The Chiswick Calendar, where four contenders for the newly created Hammersmith & Chiswick constituency sparred over who would best represent the area.

Chaired by our Editor Bridget Osborne, attendees packed into The Boston Room as candidates from the four parties which won most votes at the last election – Labour, Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Green Party – vied for their votes.

Labour MP Andy Slaughter, who has represented the Hammersmith area since 2005, is fighting Hammersmith & Chiswick for Labour, against Hammersmith & Fulham councillor Andrew Dinsmore for the Conservatives, Eraj Rostaqi for the Liberal Democrats and Naranee Ruthra-Rajan for the Green Party.

The two hour exchange began with each candidate highlighting the key commitments from their party’s manifesto before each was subjected to a grilling by Bridget.

Both national issues were covered, including education, the NHS, the push to achieve net zero carbon emissions, crime and safety, sewage in our rivers and seas as well as more local issues including Charing Cross Hospital and the closure of Hammersmith Bridge.

I spoke with some of the attendees from across the room at random to get a snapshot of opinion after the debate. Here are their responses.

Image: Candidates during the hustings event

“We need to grow the economy”

Anne Marie told me the hustings had not changed her mind on who she would be voting for, having already been impressed by Labour’s manifesto pledges.

“I’ll be voting for who I was voting for before the hustings: Andy Slaughter… Because he is a great candidate… He’s standing on the Labour manifesto which is a great manifesto.”

And what issues are important to her?

“The NHS is obviously a big one. But we need the economy to grow and we need to get rid of the 14 years of absolute disastrous non-government”

A man who gave his name only as Adrian said Andy Slaughter had likely convinced him to to vote Labour. He said:

“I’ve always been a Labour supporter but I do like the emphasis that the Liberal Democrats have got on care, and they’re talking about Europe which I think is very important. I was impressed with the way Andy Slaughter answered all the questions, because I think he comes from a very humanistic perspective.

“The Green Party, I was very very impressed with what they had to say about eduction and very much talking about human issues.

“I still feel I’ll probably vote Labour, because he did a very good job of expressing my opinions.”

Images: Ahmed wants a female Labour leader and a better deal from LB Hounslow under Andy Slaughter; Christine Ozanne supports Keir Starmer

“I’m still a bit of a floater”

Ahmed, who only gave his first name, said he was “still a bit of a floater” but had been impressed Andy Slaughter’s performance and record as an MP. On who he’d be voting for and what issues are important to him, Ahmed said:

“I’m thinking of voting Labour, because of Andy, but I did ask him a few minutes ago when is Labour going to have a female leader, because I think there’s maybe an ethos of resistance to having a female leader which they’re not addressing. Plenty of female [candidates] have never achieved leadership of the party.

“The second question I asked him was, having lived in this end of Chiswick, part of Hounslow, for 23 years, I think we get the short end of the stick in terms of service provision to this side of the borough. I was saying to him he is going to need all of his experience and talents to be able to negotiate a better deal for us this side of the borough.”

Christine Ozanne, who has voted Labour in the past, said the hustings did not tell her anything she hadn’t heard before. She said she will be voting for Andy Slaughter.

“It was more or less what we’ve heard all along the election campaign,” Christine said, “The gut feeling is we have got to get the Tories out… I actually joined the Labour Party for about half an hour, I paid £25, to try and make sure that Keir Starmer won the leadership election. So I’m very much behind him I think he’s been pretty good.”

Image: William Francis said questions concerning transgender people and their rights were “demeaning”

“It does have elements of moral panic”

One member of the audience, who asked a question during the hustings about a Labour government potentially eroding women’s rights – a reference to the debate over gender recognition and the rights of transgender people – said she would probably vote for Andy Slaughter. “He is a decent, sensible guy” she said.

Preferring to remain anonymous when asked what policies had convinced her to vote Labour, she added:

“I know which ones they haven’t, which is ‘what is a woman?’ And will they stand up for gay rights? I don’t think I can give you anything further than that but I think Andy is a sensible, decent guy – which is not to say the others are not also decent.”

William Francis, a former candidate for the Liberal Democrats for the Chiswick Gunnersbury ward in the 2022 local elections, said he was “keen on support of trans rights”, so I asked how he felt hearing contributions from so-called ‘gender critical’ members of the audience, he said:

“It does have elements of moral panic that we got with say, gay liberation in the ’80s. There’s a lot of people fear-mongering about it. So some of it [the questions this evening] did echo that.

“I have many trans friends, trans women, trans men and non-binary people. I kinda felt some of the questions by some of the trans-critical audience, one in particular, was a bit demeaning towards trans people.”

Other issues William said were important to him included housing, which he feels priced out of as a young person, and foreign policy:

“I’m a member of the Lib Dem Friends of Ukraine, we support them in fending off Putin’s genocide and imperialist war.

Images: Matthew Adey and Kim Marshall said they would be voting for The Green Party

“I really really like the Green’s policy of taxing billionaires”

The Green Party’s candidate, Naranee Ruthra-Rajan, got some of the loudest applause of the evening when pitching the party’s manifesto pledges, namely wealth taxes and funding the NHS.

Matthew Adey, who has voted Green for the last 12 years, said he wouldn’t be breaking tradition now:

“We just like her policies really.”.. I’d say from this evening the water sewage issue is kinda key to me.”

Similarly, when asked if she knew who she’d be voting for Kim Marshall said:

“Naranee. I think she gave a really great performance.”

What Green policies have convinced her?

“I think proper funding of the NHS and our public services in particular. Taxation as well, I really really like the Green’s policy of taxing billionaires.”

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