We went to the Hustings this year so you didn’t have to. It seems that this message didn’t very far as a couple of hundred other people also turned up. As so many other people were there we only stayed for an hour. There were a number of reasons for this, mainly because this was our fourteenth hustings in Moseley and we quickly realised that it was going to be exactly the same issues that have come up for the last decade. Equally after three quarters of an hour we noticed that everyone else was in the pub. After an hour we also went to the pub.
This year the organisers took the novel step of combining Moseley and Kings Heath residents so there was just one event in Queensbridge School. This had the obvious potential to ”kick off” as the two very different communities came together. It didn’t “kick off”. It was quite amicable. The best thing about this is that we got the evening chaired by a bloke from Kings Heath. As Moseley residents no doubt know, our usual Chair insists on answering the questions along with the candidates. Fortunately this didn’t happen.
The following is an obviously biased and flawed remembrance of the first hour.
First up was Conservative candidate John Turner. John is a new candidate for Moseley and it’s nice to see the Conservatives still trying, though John did admit that he didn’t really expect many people to vote for him. Although it is unlikely he will get in, it probably isn’t a good idea to remind people of that in your opening speech. Apparently the key things we need to know about John are that he has lived in Moseley for over 20 years, he’s a lawyer and he agrees with everything that David Cameron and Mike Whitby say. As David Cameron has made policy flip flopping his own, we can only assume that John too celebratates contradiction. We have to respect John’s agreement with everything that Mike Whitby says. Mike is, currently, trying to develop his own version of English and it is usually difficult to figure out what he is saying. John did state that he completely agrees with the budget set by the Council this year. As two elements of that budget have been found to be unlawful in the High Court in the last few weeks, we might suggest that John shouldn’t be your first choice when it comes to legal advice.
Next up was Labour’s own Martin Straker-Welds. It wasn’t the most dynamic performance from Martin. Though to be fair to him it’s really in his interests to just keep his head down and win this election by default. He gave a list of notable Labour achievements such as removing children from poverty. Possibly he confused achievement with aspiration. With the scale of cuts to services in Birmingham it was hard for Martin to not make some of the most obvious points about the City’s poor governance. He made these points well.
The opening speech from, incumbent, Cllr Emily Cox was a strange affair. It came across as much more of a goodbye/thank you rather than a bid for another term. She consistently emphasised her local work and where she has disagreed with her party both locally and nationally. You really have to feel sorry for Emily. We think most people recognise that she’s been a decent local Councillor but has been desperately betrayed by her own parties shameless grab for power. She did make an interesting point that she would have liked to vote for an alternative budget but one wasn’t presented by the Labour Party. Is this a hint that she would be willing to change allegiance? One doubts that her current home situation would really make this viable. At one point she was asked what the Lib Dems would do if current polling is reflected in the election result, and Labour were the largest party without a majority. She answered that the Lib Dems haven’t even thought about this. A difficult position to put her in because that eventuality would obviously mean she had already lost her seat.
Last but one was William Lilley from the Green party. This is William’s second time standing and at last years hustings he hadn’t prepared a speech. He hadn’t prepared a speech this year either. Come on William with a years notice you can find five minutes to throw a speech together. He did speak for his full time allocation and made the point that he had warned us last year about the impact of the cuts on the most vulnerable. He’s not wrong, he did warn us last year. William came across as about the most convincing candidate on the night. He made good points about examples of alternative budgets and the social costs of cutting services.
Alan Blumenthal is always good value for money. Although he sounds a lot like a really sad robot, his tone obviously hides a steel trap mind. Well it might hide a steel trap mind. He explained to us that as he’s standing for UKIP he is the only candidate who’s party can claim to have the word independent in their name. This is very true. He also claimed that this means he is truly independent, apart from the commitments that were in his party’s manifesto. I think if we’ve learnt one thing in the last year it is that manifestos mean pretty well nothing. His actual speech didn’t have any stand out points though later he did claim that he would reduce youth violence by getting rid of speed cameras and putting more Bobbies on the beat. This got a typical Moseley cheer as everyone in the room ignored the economic nonsense of his plan.
The one issue that has most confounded residents this year has been the Tesco development. Obviously this was a question that was raised and it was interesting that pretty well all the candidates were consistent with the line that little could be done now. All except Alan. He has a plan to change national planning law so that people making planning applications have no right of appeal. Good luck with that.
So, there is a summary with completely partisan comments thrown in for no good reason.
Possibly much interesting stuff happened after this, but given the quality of the illogical heckling coming from the audience it’s doubtful the level of debate managed to substantially improve itself.