Richard Lutz attends the election hustings and loses the will to live.
The six main candidates for Hall Green arrived to tell the voters in the Moseley area just what they feel about, well, everything from Trident to the Trojan Horse affair to those tricky immigrants.
Actually five appeared because the UKIP politician Rashpal Mondar didn’t show up. He decided it was in his best interests not to let voters consider his opinions. His place was taken by an empty chair.
The two hour affair was chaired haphazardly by Moseley Forum with a loose and ineffectual hand. The moderator seemed to think his role was to let candidates ramble on without a leash despite time constraints.
On to the runners and riders and habitually verbous.
Labour’s Roger Godsiff, sitting MP with a majority of 3,799, seemed languid, bored. He slouched at the end of the dias. Someone should take him aside and talk about posture. But he knew his brief and handled questions about education, the economy and immigration with a considered grasp of facts and Parliamentary experience which he let everyone know about.
Strangely, he would not deal with a question over his opposition to gay marriage. He referred to his leaflet at the back of the room. Isn’t the aim of the hustings is to hear the voice of the candidate? Not read a carefully penned essay? Ahh, well.
To his right was the UKIP man Rashpal Mondar – or rather his weird absence from Planet Earth.
To the absent one’s right was Green’s Elly Stanton, who seemed to have just stepped off her bike and sighed deeply every time a query was thrown her way. She was simply out of her league referring to chunks of the garbled Green manifesto as if short of an idea or two. She will help lose wavering Green voters in this constituency, which runs from Sparkbrook to Moseley High Street.
To her right was Libdem Jerry Evans. He has some nice ideas but they are unfortunately wrapped in a confused hurricane of words. He is, many times, simply un-understandable and should be put out to pasture come the 2020 bunfight.
To his right was Tory James Bird. Obviously, this 29 year old youngblood was thrown to the dogs by Conservative HQ to get a good blooding, He acquitted himself well, wrapped in right wing dogma and defence of the rich. My guess, despite his city roots, is that he may be handed a tastier seat next election.
And to his right (in a physical sense only) was Respect’s Shiraz Peer. He is a city lawyer with a specialty in immigration law (which he never let you forget) and bounced back with an articulate argument for most subjects. But a bit dry and not a spot on his sparky predecessor Salma Yaqoob, who has left Respect after a barney with barmy boss George Galloway.
Q&As descended into grumpy shouting matches from the audience (especially about the inscrutable Trojan Horse schools affair) and inchoate ramblings from such political illuminaries as Libdem Jerry Evans and Green’s Ms Stanton, helped no thanks to the inadequate chair who managed to grasp chaos from the jaws of order and let things get out of control towards the bedraggled end, which led dozens to leave early.
Opinion: Godsiff, despite looking as he was falling asleep, ahead on points. Peer in second.