Editor’s comment: Make up your mind with the Gazette’s help

The Gazette will be holding a hustings at St Mary's Church. Picture: ANTHONY DEVLIN/PA ARCHIVE

The Gazette will be holding a hustings at St Mary's Church. Picture: ANTHONY DEVLIN/PA ARCHIVE - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Ima

I’m delighted that all four of Islington’s biggest political parties will be attending our hustings event at St Mary’s Church later this month.

And in the wake of our hugely successful Islington South and Finsbury hustings last year, I strongly urge everyone who’s free on the evening of April 23 to head down and join us at 7pm (for lively debate and enjoyable atmosphere, if not my chairing skills. My goal this time is twofold: to remember to introduce the candidates, and then subsequently to remember their names while doing so).

When it comes to unpopular decisions, Islington Council often points the finger at central government for starving it of cash by cutting grants and even dictating how it can spend different parts of its income (hello, right to buy receipts). And while that’s an extremely valid line, it’s also true that the council still wields a significant amount of power and budget, even if it is facing enormous budget cuts. It is probably the organisation whose decisions will most immediately and directly impact you, even if those decisions might not be so monumental as national or international ones. At its furthest reach, it houses us, runs our schools, cleans our streets, empties our bins, clads our tower blocks, rips up our roads, and decides whether you can run a business or extend your house.

That’s a lot of power, and it’s also a lot of power to use badly. Readers of this paper’s child abuse investigation last year will know all too well how devastating it can be in the wrong hands.

A vote, too, can be a dangerous thing if wielded irresponsibly. Any party will tell you to vote for it given a solo platform; it’s when debate begins that we find out the nuance and application of their beliefs and positions. That’s when we learn their true colours. So please: join us for the big reveal.

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