Cardiff South and Penarth hustings debate

November 12, 2012 8 Comments »

The Communist Party’s Robert Griffith’s stands to address tonight’s hustings meeting at the STAR Centre in Splott.

The eight candidates vying to become the next MP for Cardiff South and Penarth went head to head at a heated hustings meeting tonight, covering issues ranging from the Splott incinerator, to benefit reform and support for trade unions.

The debate at Splott’s STAR Centre was organised by Cardiff Trades Council and the PCS Trade Union ahead of Thursday’s by-election, which was triggered after Labour’s Alun Michael resigned the Westminster seat he has held for 25 years to contend the South Wales police and crime commissioner vote.

Candidates from Labour, the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, Green Party, Communist Party, Socialist Labour Party and UKIP were all present or represented at the hustings, which drew in an audience of around 60 people.

Opening proceedings, Cardiff South and Penarth assembly member Vaughan Gething spoke on behalf of Labour candidate Stephen Doughty, who was unable to attend due to a prior commitment.

Mr Gething said Mr Doughty would campaign for the whole constituency as an advocate for social justice, would support the living wage, oppose regional pay, and aim to engage in a “grown up debate” about the reform of the health service.

But Mr Gething said he did not know Mr Doughty’s views on Trident and nuclear weapons, and then had to leave to debate early himself to attend another appointment, to jeers from the audience.

Conservative candidate Craig Williams was also represented by an assembly member, South Wales Central AM David Melding, because of a family emergency. Mr Melding said Mr Williams would represent the Conservative’s centre-right vision, which supported workers’ right to strike, but only with proper endorsement, and the ideal of unilateral nuclear disarmament. On the issue of the controversial energy-from-waste incinerator planned for Splott, Mr Melding said incinerator technology could be appropriate on the right sites, but only with the mandate and approval of the local people.

Liberal Democrat candidate Bablin Molik spoke of her community work in the constituency, and understanding of its diverse communities as the only female and member of an ethnic minority among the candidates. She also said she was against the Trident nuclear programme, but came under fire when she voiced her opposition to the Splott incinerator, which was granted planning permission during the administration of the last Lib Dem/Plaid Cymru Cardiff Council.

But she held firm, telling a riled audience: “I am not a party puppet.”

The Community Party’s Robert Griffiths, a founding member of the Cardiff Against The Incinerator Campaign, said that despite support from individual party members, the constituency had been let down by Labour, Plaid Cymru and the Lib Dems on the issue, but that he would continue to fight whether he was elected or not. He also fully backed trade unions, and said the issue of publicly trained healthcare staff being lost to the private sector needed to be tackled.

Luke Nicholas, standing for Plaid Cymru, said he would support the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, the scrapping of Trident, a health care system focussed on healthier lifestyles, the capping of private sector rents, and the opposition campaign to the Splott incinerator.

Green Party candidate, Anthony Slaughter, said he often came across an attitude that “you green people are nice, but we have grown up things to talk about”. But he argued that the economic crisis and the environmental crisis were “one and the same”, and that his party had policies to deal with both. He spoke in support of repealing “Thatcherite” trade union laws, against Trident and “firmly against” the incinerator.

The Socialist Labour Party candidate Andrew Jordan was represented by John Tyrrell, who said Mr Jordan would stand up for the constituency’s people first – including the fight against the incinerator – but would also be against Trident and the NHS being “siphoned off to the private sector”.

UKIP’s Simon Zeigler surprised some by saying that although his party does not have a policy on trade unions, he considered them a “vital part of this society”. He went on to describe the prospect of an incinerator in Splott as “absolutely horrendous”, and said he would support the restructure of the NHS so that care was more locally managed.

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  1. Sam November 13, 2012 at 7:27 am - Reply

    Good old Labour. Probably the most important event of the by-election, when the public can truly see who you are and Labour send someone else apart from the candidate in, and he then leaves early!! Disgraceful.

  2. Rob Griffiths November 13, 2012 at 10:38 am - Reply

    I was very disappointed that the Labour candidate ducked not only this hustings meeting, but also the hustings phone-in on Radio Cardiff earlier in the day. People want to know where he stands on public ownership of gas and electricity, on nuclear weapons and nuclear power, the war in Afghanistan etc. etc. Although he wants to debate with me on his Facebook page about the poor utility companies having to pay to remove my election posters, he has so far refused to answer my polite questions about where he stands on the important issues.

  3. Steve Williams November 13, 2012 at 10:48 am - Reply

    I was at the event and it was full, all seats were taken and it was standing room only. I sometimes wonder whether politicians want people to be interested in political debate, because sending stand-ins is bad enough but just to walk out of a full political meeeting is nothing short a disgrace! If they want people to be active citizens then treat people with respect and turn up and answer the people.

  4. JollyGreenGiant November 13, 2012 at 11:41 am - Reply

    I'm absolutely disgusted at the contempt Labour have shown local people last night. They claim their candidate is a 'local campaigner' yet he has not been seen on the ground either before or during this election. Their complacency is staggering. I truly hope they fail to retain this seat and it goes to someone who knows the local area and will fight for local people regardless of their political persuasion.

  5. David Prichard November 13, 2012 at 1:11 pm - Reply

    I thought Robert Griffiths did well – eloquent and to the point as ever. Also heard him in 2010 – he is still on form. Great candidate – such a pity he is Communist – but I almost found myseld agreeing with him..
    Question-dodging Stephen Doughty will forever now be known as "Dodgy Doughty – or perhaps "Doubty"" Why would anyone vote for this Alun Michael nominee and "friend of the Michael family" when he can't even extend the courtesy of attending a pre-arranged hustings held in his own constituency? Anyone who watched the Labour Party conference on TV will know what a rotten platform speaker Doughty is – maybe he thinks it's to his advantage, Splott people would suss him out immediately. He's treated them with rank discourtesy and contempt.
    His stand-in Vaughan Gethin was hilarious though – he knew Doughty's soccer allegiances and Doughty's age – but has no idea at all about Doubty's policies or indeed the Labour' party's.
    Plaid Cymru's Luke Nicholas and the LIb Dem's Bablin Molik both saw their dreams of victory went up in smoke when it emerged that both parties had backed the Splott Incinerator.
    UKIP's Simon Zeigler astonished the audience by committing to repeal the Thatcher anti-trade union legislation and revealing himself as a lifetime left-winger.
    David Melding AM – right wing and droll with it – stood in for Craig Williams because of some family emergency – but seemed a straightforward bloke
    Like most people in the meeting though – I just don't know who to vote for.

  6. Luke Nicholas November 14, 2012 at 10:24 am - Reply

    This was a very good & competitive hustings, credit to the Cardiff Trades Council for organising it. It has to be said on the incinerator that Plaid Cymru voted against the incinerator when it was at the planning stage. I think some people in the room knew that which is why I got off quite lightly. Main issues I flagged up were the need to bring the troops home from Afghanistan and to stop the pointless and wasteful renewal of Trident.

  7. Mohammed s Islam November 14, 2012 at 11:49 am - Reply

    I am writing for the Splot and surrounding areas residents. Especially for the
    Issue of Incinerator. I was a member of planning committee from plaid Cymru
    And I was the only plaid councillor voted against it. But all other members of
    That planning committee including Lab & Con-Dem voted for it. Lib-dem andLabour
    members was very serious for this to go ahead.
    Mohammed S Islam
    Former Riverside Plaid Councillor

    • The Public Record November 14, 2012 at 8:15 pm - Reply

      But all other members of
      That planning committee including Lab & Con-Dem voted for it.

      Not true sir. One Lib Dem voted against and 2 abstained. Also the independent voted against. Labour and Tory voted unanimously for.

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