All candidates for public office should be prepared to face the people

The red box on the right was the Labour candidate. The blue box on the left was the Tory candidate. The Brexit candidate stormed off because no one in the audience was a Brexiter and he couldn’t answer the questions. The Liberal candidate was represented by someone else but The Green Candidate and I stayed to the end and answered questions from about 50 local people.

Last night we had the unedifying sight of the Prime Minister refusing to turn up at a Leader’s debate on climate change on Channel 4. ALL the other Leaders were there but at the last-minute Johnson tried to send a sub. Not surprisingly the Leaders who had turned up said, “no”. If it was a debate for environmental spokespersons the Leaders of the other Parties would not have been there.

Climate change is equally with Brexit the most urgent issue on the UK political scene at the moment. The fact that our Prime Minister was not prepared to turn up and debate and be questioned on the issue shows how little he cares for it.

Johnson has form on all this. Every other Leader has been prepared to be grilled by Andrew Neil. Andrew is a hard task master and anyone would have some trepidation in facing him. The other Leaders said. “yes”. Some have already appeared and Jo Swinson will be ‘done’ next week. Apparently Johnson hasn’t got time. I understand that some 3 million people turn on to these interviews. That’s a sizeable proportion of those who will vote on 1th December – yet the Prime Minister is just not prepared to answer for his personal and political actions.

It’s no better in Liverpool. There haven’t been a lot of hustings meetings this year but the Tories have not and are not turning up to any of them. As I understand it, they haven’t even responded to requests. This is hardly surprising given that none of them live in Liverpool. The Tory candidate in Liverpool Wavertree lives in Islington. BUT there are trains to get her here and we do have hotels!

More surprising is no-shows from Labour. I’ve just got back from a hustings for Wavertree where the Labour candidate originally agreed to come and then 24 hours later backed down. That happened in the Church Ward local elections as well this past May.

When I was out in my Ward this afternoon, I was told by a Labour member that it was because she felt that the meeting would be aggressive. Never have my flabbers been so gasted!! The only bullying and aggression that I have seen in Liverpool is the bullying and aggression that lead to two fine women, Luciana Berger and Louise Ellman leaving the Labour Party and Liverpool. This was not external bullying but internal within the Labour Party.

In fact, the hustings meeting was excellently chaired, as it always with, and the audience and panel treated each other respectfully but forcefully. Just what a husting should be about. It then occurred to me later that if she cannot take me on how is she hoping to take the Prime Minister on!

I have been many detractors in the City because I have been prepared to take Labour and the Tory Government to task. But none of my detractors would ever be able to see I have hidden from a debate. At times when there were just 2 Lib Dems in the Chamber it was very difficult to go head to head with a Mayor who had 81 people on his side. As many of you know who have been to the Town Hall I did take him on and made my case. This was particularly so when the huge local issue of the sale of part of Calderstones Park was suggested by Labour and Erica and I had to lead the political fight whilst organisations like LOGs and Save Caldies led the community fight.

I regularly tweet my views, and I can be challenged on them. I blog on average twice a week about political issues and respond to everyone who queries what I say. When possible, I go to meetings of all sorts of action groups. Sometimes it’s real ‘Daniel in the Lion’s Den’ time but I go. I have beliefs and take actions based on those beliefs and I am prepared to go and defend both.

You can find me regularly on the streets of Liverpool and particularly Church Ward. Every month I go with my colleagues Liz and Andrew Makinson and stand for 4 hours at our open-air advice centre at the Farmer’s Market. Anyone can come along for information, advice or to talk politics. On an average week the three of us will talk to about 75 people. Our next advice centre is on 7th December between 9 a.m. and 1 pm. The Farmers Market is held at the junction of Garthdale and Allerton Roads. For this one there will be church and school choirs singing carols and stalls from various community groups in addition to the normal fare and the advice from the two wise men and one wise woman!

To me that’s what politics is all about. It’s about listening to the community and taking the ideas and concerns from the community up to the Town Hall and Westminster. As an elected representative I am not accountable to my political party I am accountable to the people who elected me. If I don’t hear their concerns how can I voice them in the forum to which I have been elected.

This is election time. It’s a time when the voters make the decisions and the politicians should be in super listening mode. The fact that some candidates for high or low office choose to ignore this element of an election demeans them, demeans their Party and is part of the lowering of respect in society for politicians as a whole.

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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2 Responses to All candidates for public office should be prepared to face the people

  1. Totally untrue Richard, your a sore looser and speaking about other candidates when they are not present is very unprofessional. Accept the outcome of the Vote., 17.4 million people voted to Leave.

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