Editor’s comment: Hustings gave us all food for thought

Gazette hustings for Islington South and Finsbury in St Mary's Church. From left: Alain Desmier, Jas

Gazette hustings for Islington South and Finsbury in St Mary's Church. From left: Alain Desmier, Jason Charalambous, Emily Thornberry and chair Ramzy Alwakeel. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

As I’m writing this, campaigning for the General Election has been suspended in the wake of Monday night’s atrocity in Manchester.

It feels a little odd to be talking about politics at a time when not even politicians are doing so. Manchester was my home for a number of years and I know both the arena and the surrounding streets well, so I too have my mind on events outside Islington.

But the election is going ahead regardless of how we feel, and until Monday night I, like many, was thinking of little else. And the truth is that the decisions we all make on June 8 will have an impact, even though we may not feel like thinking about it after such a horrific attack.

I’d originally planned to use this space to thank Simon Harvey and all the St Mary’s family who helped make the evening a success – they lent us their beautiful building and provided us with tables, microphones, a stopwatch, a man to work the stopwatch, and even bottles of water – all I had to supply was a measuring jug. It was an honour to use the church and we’re very grateful. So – thank you.

While there were moments of bitter disagreement, as you would expect, there was also a sense of goodwill to proceedings, with each candidate respecting others’ right to speak.

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After so many mentions of the word “Brexit” I was surprised when the final question from the floor was about press regulation. And candidates wasted little time in criticising the political alignment of various national newspapers.

But I hope the evening itself was a reminder local papers still serve a vital democratic role. Especially at election time, when people from all over the political spectrum line up to pitch for Number 10, the idea of the government having the last say on what we publish is chilling.

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