Emily Thornberry tells Islington South and Finsbury hustings: ‘It’s either Labour or Tories’
PUBLISHED: 08:43 22 May 2017 | UPDATED: 16:55 22 May 2017
Islington South and Finsbury incumbent Emily Thornberry told voters it was a straight choice between Labour and the Conservatives at the Gazette’s hustings last night.
Mrs Thornberry (Lab), previously the constituency MP of 12 years, completely discounted the Lib Dem and Green candidates in her closing remarks – after a debate in which they repeatedly rubbished her Brexit stance.
Ukip candidate Pete Muswell, meanwhile, admitted he won’t be elected and questioned why he had even stood. But he did win the biggest laugh of the night when he derided Mrs Thornberry for speaking in the third person.
Candidates were given 90 seconds for their closing remarks, after a heated debate in front of 265 people in St Mary’s Church, Upper Street.
Brexit was the pervading theme, and first speaker Alain Desmier (Lib Dem) said: “A year ago, I spent four days in Whittington Hospital as my wife gave birth. I saw humanity and care provided for the two most important people in my life. That will never leave me. This is the sort of country we want to be.
“My father arrived from India in the 1950s. He believed in the idea of Britain. That wasn’t easy in the face of everyday racism. He fought to be treated as an equal, and I am in politics to secure a country that is tolerant.”
Jason Charalambous (Conservative) managed to avoid using Prime Minister Theresa May’s “strong and stable” buzzwords, having made the entire audience groan when employing them earlier in the debate.
He said: “The stakes in this election are so very high. All parties can make promises about the economic prosperity we need to fund public services, but Theresa May is the best person to secure that deal.
“The job of an MP is to make the lives of others better. Here, we need more social housing. Crime is too high. From day one I will champion the needs of all Islington people, giving you a voice in Parliament for a better future that everyone deserves.”
Mrs Thornberry, who has clashed with Mrs May in the Commons on numerous occasions, said: “Theresa May called an election when she didn’t need to. She wants a blank cheque [for the country’s Brexit negotiations] and absolute power. It’s a threat to everyone. We have to have full access to the single market and protect our EU migrants.
“But hey, she has called an election, so let’s have a look at her record. Hospitals? Disability allowances? She has no record to stand up to but personal attacks on the leader of the Labour Party.
“It’s about a damn sight more than that – about making people’s lives better. And I would implore you to look at the choice between a Labour and Conservative government.”
Mr Muswell (Ukip) surprisingly had the most well-received closing remarks, perhaps due to his brutal honesty. “I ask why I put myself in for this,” he said. “I know I can’t get elected. My wife hates it.”
He continued with an attack on Mrs Thornberry’s record: “But I see the St Luke’s lunch club cut. The only time you see Emily is for a Christmas photo.” This drew angry protest from Mrs Thornberry. “Knife crime is up.
“And yet people keep voting Labour. They are not the party of the working class. And Emily referred to herself earlier in the third person! They are snobs, and someone has to stand up for ordinary working class people.”
It was left to Benali Hamdache (Green) for the final speech, and he admitted: “That’s quite an act to follow.”
But he continued: “The fact is, we are where we are and Theresa May has made it really clear that our relationship with the world is at stake. We have a Tory government happy dressing up in Ukip’s clothes.
“But in Islington, I see a borough at ease with diversity, that challenges inequality. A place where amazing things happen each week. I am proud to call this my home. And we are offering the clearest rejection of an extreme Brexit.”
Were you at the debate? Which candidates impressed? Email our opinion section: firstname.lastname@example.org
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