Thursday, 28 May 2009

World Development Movement Hustings - Wed 27th

Wednesday night saw me attend the hustings organised by the Glasgow World Development Movement Hustings in the West End. It was around their trade justice campaign , they want all the MEPs and potential candidate to sign a pledge to stop European institutions tying poorer countries into unfair trade deals.

It was a different format - each candidate spoke for 3 minutes then each one sat at a separate table with tea and cake! and people could move from table to table and quiz the candidates. It allowed people more time for one on one discussions I guess and didnt allow the candidates to confront each other in a top table structure.

The other parties that were there were the 4 establishment ones - Nulabour, Tories, SNP and the Libs. The others represented were us, the Greens and No2EU - the formation called by Bob Crow of the RMT and backed by Solidarity and the Morning Star Communists up in Scotland.

Only ourselves, the Greens, Labour and the Tories sent actual Euro candidates. Most of the introductory speeches were fairly inoccuous. The Labour Candidate was a Euro apparatchik Paul McAleavey who actually works for the European Commission bureaucracy. The Tory was 2nd on their list Belinda Don who was a very "Dave" Cameron candidate: very approachable and posh and believe it or not the first candidate to mention the crisis facing the environment and the only one of the establishment candidates (I hadnt spoken and the Greens hadnt mentioned it at all!) I mention those 2 because they were the only ones that didnt sign the Trade Justice Pledge at the end.

The Liberal was Elspeth Atwooll who is standing down as MEP this year - She taught me at Glasgow Uni and she is very nice sort of Old School Liberal I get on quite well with her. The Nat was Patrick who works for Jamie Hepburn in the Scottish Parliament, the green was Alastair Whitelaw who is on their list been around for ages and was wearing a nice pair of green slacks! The no 2EU rep was Ian McInnes who I know quite well he is a Govanhill community activist and had been dropped into doing the hustings at last minute. They are all pretty good guys so couldnt get much snarling done there :-)

I spoke last was the only one that mentioned expenses in the opening speeches surprisingly said I was disappointed that they had supplied coffee and cake because I wouldnt be able to stick in a claim for high tea at the Grosvenor Hilton!

Then I took my table -see photo at top!

The idea was that people could go from table to table to question the candidates and the WDM guys sort of facilitated it and raised their issues of trade justice between the EU and other countries, lack of democracy in the negotiations and the ignoring of factors like sustainability for poorer countries.

It was good in the sense that people got a fair say and it was more interactive- everyone got to speak that wanted to. I learned a bit at it as well. People raised issues on Africa, economic growth, the lack of democracy within the EU.
One older guy said he was a socialist and enjoyed my speech but what society needed was a "meltdown" before it could happen. Another woman was an ex-journalist who is carrying out a campaign against the building of a new Coalfired power station at Hunterston by Danish company DONG which would put all CO2 targets out the window - I hadnt heard about that. I would say the bigger parties probably had more people going to speak to them - maybe that wanted to have a go at them or maybe because they have a better chance of being elected.

Anyway Steve Rolfe from WDM concluded it and me, the Liberals, SNP, Greens and no 2 eu signed the pledge. Unbelievably or rather believably the two Big business parties didnt sign it. Shows how much New Labour have changed and how little (apart from posh appearances)the Cameron Tories have.

WDM seem quite a campaigning body - will look out for stuff they do.

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