We had high hopes for the hustings this year. It would be the fifteenth year we’ve done this and it could be the last one where we get to see a fairly long serving Councillor with a reputation for unguarded comments. We were disappointed.
Let’s get this out of the way and then you can all get on with something else. One point of note is that this year it was held in Kings Heath Baptist Church, we’d never been there before, it’s quite nice.
We were pleased to see that hundreds of people did bother to turn up, through combining the Moseley and Kings Heath hustings we really have created a monster.
So, as usual, here’s what they all had to say (this account will be stupidly partisan and might include some embellishment).
Peter – Green Party
This is a strange one, Peter isn’t even standing but he came to tell us about the Green Party. Apparently William, who is standing, has just had a baby and understandably had better things to do than talk to us. As it took some time to absorb who Peter was we have no idea what his surname is, though that doesn’t really matter as he is the one person that is guaranteed not be able to win the election. Peter took an interesting approach to a local hustings, he dodged Moseley and instead told us quite a lot about Brighton (which isn’t in Birmingham). Brighton does sound very nice, it sounds like they’re doing great things down there, though seemingly they are not volunteering to sort out our street drinker.
Each speaker had a time limit but this still came as a bit of a surprise as at the end he started randomly listing forms of transport. He listed walking, cycling but got stopped before he got to the more interesting ones. Peter did not mention parks once.
Lisa Trickett – Labour Party
Lisa doesn’t come across as someone you’d really want to get in an argument with, the first few rows did look a little bit worried at the start of her speech but seemed to settle down once it became clear that it wasn’t us she was angry with. She did make many points about housing, social care which all seemed fair enough. Interestingly in her opening speech not many points about Moseley, she did say she recognised that we can organise a good meeting. She’s not wrong, there are not many situations where a meeting isn’t the most appropriate and desirable response.
One of the things that came through, more in the questions than the opening address, is how Labour will respond to our dire local financial situation. Lisa did make a number of points about the current coalition’s attitude to selling off local resources to the private sector. It did seem a bit unfair as many of the most disastrous things in the City were Labour ideas that have just taken a really long time to go horrifically wrong. I think a collective hands up “we’re all guilty” might be wishing for too much.
Lisa gave the impression she really likes living round here, has had lots of jobs and knows about housing. Lisa did not mention parks.
John Turner – Conservative
I can’t remember the last time the Conservatives really tried in Moseley. I’m not sure if they’re trying now. John came across as a really nice bloke but unfortunately, these days, talking to a nice Conservative makes you think they’re just keeping you busy whilst their mates are round the back of your house filling their van up.
John said he was extremely supportive of the budget set by the current Council leadership but at least had the decency to have a little chuckle and a wink as he said it. He also weirdly said he was standing in order to provide something different, prudent management. We’d be fascinated to see how he believes this is different to his own party who are running the place at the moment. He did mention Moseley quite a lot but we have no recollection of what he said.
John did not mention parks at all.
Martin Mullaney – Liberal Democrats
Martin does not need any introduction, if you’ve ever opened a paper you will have seen him doing….. you know, things. The noticeable thing about this hustings is the dramatic improvement in how Martin speaks publicly. He was clear on what he stands for and why we should support him. Unfortunately the trade off is that he has lost the trade mark “what will he say next” attitude that used to characterise him, to be replaced with a slavish towing of the Conservative/Lib Dem line. As they’ve been paying him a good wage for the last few years it isn’t surprising.
He did mention parks, he mentioned parks a lot. There were some points where most of us thought he was applying for a job as a Parkie. Given how much he knows about parks this could well be something he could fall back on and, it would seem, be very happy.
Some of the audience were disappointed to hear that Martin’s Magical Train has been delayed. It would seem that we are aiming for 2024 before the railway opens. As this will mean this has taken a fifth of a century to come to fruition one might suppose there is a greater chance that a train will just evolve out of the existing railway.
Martin’s platform is entirely based on, “remember how bad Moseley was in 2004?”, this is quite a bizarre tack as just about everyone would say it was really good back in 2004. There was a vibrant atmosphere, house prices hadn’t shot through the roof forcing all the interesting people out. Moseley is obviously a much more staid place than it was eight years ago if there is any chance of going back to that time then we would happily jump at the chance. Oh, nearly forgot this claim, under the Labour party trees didn’t grow in Moseley. Apparently Martin has Moseley and Narnia mixed up.
So if you want a 365 day a year, 7 day a week Councillor then vote for Martin. Martin did mention parks.
Alan Blumenthal – UKIP
Like some sort of tease the hustings always leave the best until last. Our biggest worry is that Alan will get fed up of being constantly slammed at the polls and won’t stand any more. We would all be poorer if this happens.
Alan is, so he told us, notorious for not listening, a candid confession from a prospective representative. Having said that he has a solid policy framework. He will not, under any circumstances, cut front line services. Hang on a minute, there is one circumstance where he would cut services, if those services were for foreigners then they’d get cut. No translation or nonsense like that. Also, Alan recognises the problems caused by people losing their jobs so he proposes to get rid of all those lazy arsed people in the council that do nothing all day (I paraphrase).
Alan made it quite clear he doesn’t like foreign supermarkets. That includes Aldi and Lidl.
Finally Alan doesn’t believe in giving money to the Greeks.
We imagine Alan does like parks but not foreign parks, he didn’t elaborate on the subject.
David Isgrove – Himself
Finally, David. You won’t find David on the ballot paper but as always seems to be the case with our hustings he used his role as Chair to contribute his views and elaborate. His principle concern seems to be inefficient logistical planning that means some lorries are travelling about empty. This wasn’t in response to anyone or anything, just offered for nothing and left hanging.
So, that’s about it. There were questions from the public but from our question about the railway to the bloke at the end who was concerned about hemp cultivation in Australia they were all fairly vacuous.