Yet another hustings where I wasn't invited, and again its one that many people will have heard. Funny that I am invited to the ones where only a couple of hundred people attend. The other one I was excluded from was on TV.
Unfortunately only the big three parties were asked to attend, but they did a phone interview with me the day before. The Ukip chap also did a phone interview. That was a bit strange, they cut my bits into the broadcast, but as I hadn't been responding to what has just been said, some times I repeated what they said. But still I think it kind of worked, I got some of my points across.
Click on the link and go forward 2 hours to listen again.
Just as the one on TV last month, when I am not there the others start to bicker. Daisy's voice didn't sound great on radio, perhaps she was a bit overexcited, trying to live up to the Clegg hype. Naz as usual tried to score points and interrupt. Alok kept his cool, but occasionally got into bickering with Naz.
Q1 was about the leaders debate, Daisy was sure Clegg has won it. Naz thought Brown was the solid and robust, Alok thought Cameron was Prime-ministerial and Brown sniping, and that Clegg did well. Daisy said there was lots of 'love bombing', which got a laugh.
Q2 about new housing affecting traffic, was also reported here.
Labour's Naz Sarkar said there are 6,000 people on the housing register in the town and the party has house- building targets that have to be met.
The Conservative's Alok Sharma said his party would scrap targets and allow residents to choose where they want their houses to be built.
Liberal Democrat Daisy Benson raised concerns about an "over reliance on developer-led developments and creaking infrastructure".
I was answering a question on housing, not on traffic, when I said "We have a policy on empty homes - getting them back into use. But that isn't enough for the problem. I suggest the empty office blocks, there are some that have been empty for five or six years. There are people with second homes when other people do not have a place to live." (at 2 hours 18 mins)
They reported Bruce Hay, the UKIP candidate, as unavailable for comment. He answered other questions though
Q3. Cost of buses. Daisy want more power for councils to look at bus fares and cycle routes. Alok said Daisy was right, buses should be affordable, oyster card better so change not needed. Alok claimed to be the only one using the bus every day, he was pounced on by the others and admitted getting a taxi today, Daisy mentioned a meeting at the hospital and also said she commuted and bus. Increased use in cold weather. I would have enjoyed answering this, Greens have campaigned for years for reduced public transport fares, which will reduce traffic.
Q4. What have you already done. Alok; taken up hundreds of issues, post offices, pincents hill, Gurkhas. Naz; has helped Martin Salter, has been a teacher. Daisy; is the only one who was an RBC councillor. Google her and find what she has done, don't have to list them. I would have talked about campaign against Tesco and for post offices and sustainable transport.
Q5. Expenses & legal aid. Naz; Martin Salter was very good on this, everyone here would be good, no second homes. Daisy; abolish safe seats. No LD flipped mortgages (not quite the whole storey). Alok; Cameron acted quickly. Transparency, cut the cost of politics. Bruce Hay Ukip; its too late, no excuse legal aid, 'Morley, Chator and the other one'! I will donate 10% to Gurkha aid (thats a cheap trick, vote for him and he may give money to a good cause) and publish my expenses. Adrian; polititians have broken trust, need a recall for MPs, end FPTP, they should provide receipts same as everyone else.
Q6. Student housing. Alok; more private landlords, West Berkshire offer loan guarantee. Naz; Universities should ensure low rents, private landlords high quality. Daisy; I represent thousands of students, Lab have under regulated, lots of dodgy landlords, lab now supporting me. Uni must be more involved.
Q7. Government need to do more for business. Naz; right on the economy, need grants, ensure it grows. Daisy; coffee in Waitrose with FSB, cut red tape, councils more powers, bring them in, ot leave them out in the cold. Naz talked about city status, Daisy kept interrupting him. Alok, have campaigned with FSB, over taxed and regulated, bring tax rates down. NI rise, will halt this. It will cost 57,000 jobs. Naz and Alok got into bickering. Listener feedback Naz was listening, but worst policies.
Q8. How many public sector jobs lost. Alok; cost savings and Naz interrupted, was stopped. Alok; no jobs cuts, we all have to make savings. Questioner Pat was worried about services, Alok assured her no health cuts. Naz its about money, Tories will cut. Daisy; works public sector, manifesto fully costed savings.
The candidates standing for election so far in Reading West are:
Naz Sarkar - Labour,
Alok Sharma - Conservatives,
Daisy Benson - Liberal Democrats,
Adrian Windisch - Green
and Bruce Hay - UKIP.
I think there was a bit of a theme that developed. Daisy kept name dropping her meetings, but there was no scrutiny on this as no one else here has been on Reading Council. She claims to be the expert on housing, but what has she done? Where are the LibDem inspired cycle paths? Still waiting, they often mention that at elections, but do nothing. Shame.
Naz kept name dropping Martin Salter, presumably to get the Labour vote out. Perhaps he doesn't realise how polarising he was, but thats his gamble. He is always interrupting Alok, I hate that, again it his choice.
Alok tries to keep out of the bickering, but gets drawn in. I am impressed with him, all of us are theoretically against pincents hill and the bath road reservoir, but its Alok that
As for Bruce Hay, 'Morley, Chaytor and the other one' may be the best quote of the election so far. Fyi its Elliot Morley, David Chaytor, Jim Devine; three former Labour MPs accused of fiddling their parliamentary expenses have won taxpayer money to help pay their legal bills.
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