Menu

Preston general election hustings: Candidates opening pitches to voters

Posted on - 18th June, 2024 - 6:30pm | Author - | Posted in - Politics, Preston News
Four of the city’s candidates during the Preston general election hustings Pic: Neil Cross/Lancashire Post/BBC LDRS

Around a hundred Prestonians turned out to quiz some of the politicians wanting to be the city’s next MP.

Six out of the ten candidates standing in the Preston constituency at next month’s general election were put through their paces in a two-hour hustings event – organised by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Lancashire Post, Lancashire Lead and Blog Preston – at the University of Central Lancashire.

The candidates fielded questions on subjects as diverse as the current state of Preston city centre, the conflict in Gaza and the location of the new Royal Preston Hospital – with all of the topics having been selected from suggestions made in advance by members of the audience.

Read more: New constituency boundaries and candidates in Preston, Chorley and South Ribble for the 2024 general election

Those in attendance at Monday evening’s gathering also got the chance to probe the prospective parliamentarians directly on the issues that mattered most to them.

Before the debate got under way, each of the candidates present was given the chance to make their 90-second pitch to the people of Preston – while those who could not make the event were invited to submit a pre-recorded video to be played out to the room.

This is what each of the election hopefuls had to say, you can read their pitches below or watch the clip via YouTube.

David Brooks (Alliance for Democracy and Freedom [ADF])

‘I won’t be told what to do’

“I’m an independent candidate from the ADF. I’m not whipped and I’m not dictated to and told what to do [or] what policies to push, what ideologies to push.

“We’re paying an extortionate amount of money for net-zero and 98.5 percent of all greenhouse gas is produced by nature and essential to nature. We’ve got a cost of living crisis where kids are struggling to heat, struggling to eat, struggling to heat their homes. We’ve got so many other issues, like…additives and sweeteners in the foods [that] are causing cancer.

“There’s some serious issues, but we seem to be skirting around the main issues with anecdotal stuff and supporting wars in nations, killing kids, wars of attrition, cutting water off, cutting food off – It’s disgusting.

“So it’s about time somebody stood up, who’s not whipped, somebody independent, who’s not pushed [and] he’s not got an ideology. He just wants to serve the people and some honest policies and some truths that need to be told.”

Neil Darby (Liberal Democrats)

‘I think Preston deserves better.’

As it happens, [I’m] one of the youngest candidates…standing and I’m here to stand for the future of Preston and I’m here to stand for change. But I should be clear that being a young candidate is not the same as being inexperienced.

“In my day job. I work for a local Lancashire family business and I’m also the trustee for three local charities. I’ve been a councillor here in Preston for 10 years and I had the good honour of being the mayor of Preston, the youngest mayor of Preston in over 170 years, in 2022/23.

“In everything I do, I strive to be visible and to be accessible and to reach out across the community, because that is what I strongly believe our representatives are here to do.

“My top priorities in this election are to tackle the crisis that we have in our NHS and in our social care system, to tackle the crime that we have and to tackle the ongoing cost of living. I’m standing because I strongly believe that Preston deserves better. I believe that with my proud history of representing this city and the policies that I stand for, I’m the right man to take this city forward into the future as our MP.

Trevor Hart (Conservative Party)

‘My passions are education, the NHS and cutting crime.’

“I made Preston my home when I was about 11. [During] my career, [I was a] headteacher in a local school in Preston – education is something that I’m passionate about, providing the good start for our children, looking after them, helping them develop; making sure that we’ve got good schools in our city, in the right places, is a passion of mine.

“As well as that, the National Health Service, the hospitals – if we’re lucky, we’re going to get a new hospital built in Preston, it’s really critical that that happens. I’ve been spending far too much time at the hospitals. I lost my wife to cancer – I went through cancer myself recently. I know what a good service it can provide. The model we’ve got in Rosemere is something that we should be presenting for all of our hospitals.

“Working with the police, making sure that our city is crime free as far as we’re able …it’s so important. Those are three passions of mine that I would want to bring forward and try to help our city to get better.”

Sir Mark Hendrick (Labour and Co-Operative Party)

Sir Mark Hendrick, centre, at the debate. Pic: Neil Cross/Lancashire Post/BBC LDRS

‘A Labour government can achieve real change.’

“It’s a great honour to represent the people of Preston in Parliament – I’ve been selected again, to stand as your Labour and Co-operative Party candidate for the forthcoming election.

“And since I last stood, we now have a changed Labour Party, [which has] ambitious plans…to rebuild this country. We want to get economic stability back, cut NHS waiting times, launch a new security border command, set up Great British Energy, crack down on anti-social behaviour and recruit 6,500 new teachers.

“For the last 14 years [out of 24] as your MP, I’ve seen first-hand many of the problems that the people of Preston have faced and I’ve worked tirelessly to try and improve the lives of thousands of individuals who have suffered under this Conservative government. By electing a Labour government, we can achieve real change.

“I’m also a strong advocate for issues that matter to you – international conflicts, animal rights, justice, civil rights, many others that people reach out to me every day to help with. Many of you will be extremely concerned about the war in Gaza – I am too, and whilst I didn’t vote for the SNP motion, I did vote for the Labour Party motion, which also supported a ceasefire. The Labour Party totally supports an immediate ceasefire from both sides, along with recognition of the state of Palestine and a two-state solution as the way forward.”

Michael Lavalette (Independent)

‘The political establishment doesn’t listen to the people.’

“I’m standing on behalf of Preston Independents, [which was] formed as an organisation in March, because we felt that the political parties in this country simply didn’t represent us. The political establishment talks down to us – they never listen.

“And that thrust formed through our campaign around Gaza, in the first instance. Since November, 75 percent of the population have been in favour of a ceasefire, 58 percent of the population are in favour of stopping arming Israel. Yet there is no politician in the mainstream political parties who speak out for those things.

“And that rolls forward…into how our NHS is treated, how our education system is treated. Even things like…the sell-off of parts of Ashton Park in Preston. When the local population don’t want such things to happen, the political establishment just don’t listen.

“People don’t know where [Sir Mark Hendrick’s] office is. People don’t know how to get in contact with him and [I don’t think] that you’ve got an MP who represents us. Labour will win the election…but what I am arguing for is somebody who will stand up for the people of Preston, speak out in Westminster, who’s not whipped and will put Preston and people first.”

Joseph O’Meachair (Rejoin EU)

‘Preston is paying the price of Brexit.’

Rejoin EU is a party made up of people from right across the political spectrum, both leavers and remainers, who’ve come to recognise that Brexit has been a disaster and is the fundamental problem that we face in this country.

“The Office of Budget Responsibility and Goldman Sachs have estimated that the total economic hit to this country has been over £100bn and a four-to-five percent – depending on the estimate – decrease in our GDP [gross domestic product] during that time.

“This is far worse than anybody predicted before the referendum happened – and you can see this even in Preston itself. All of us…if we’re honest, we can see that Preston has been going downhill. Shops are closing – the place is just much less vibrant than it was before the referendum happened.

“Britain’s position in the world has also been diminished as a result of Brexit. There is no patriotism in waiting for some fantasy Brexit fairyland where everything’s going to come right, because it’s not going to happen. All that’s happening is that our opportunities – our children and our grandchildren’s opportunities – are being diminished.

“Labour will win this election – but every vote that you cast for Rejoin EU sends a clear message to Keir Starmer that this issue cannot be avoided anymore.”

Two of the four candidates who could not attend took the opportunity of sending videos in which they addressed the audience:

Yousuf Bhailok (Independent)

‘Preston needs a true voice.’

“I felt that this opportunity now came…to represent this hometown of mine and Muslim community…and also the rest of the community.

“And it’s time that I actually voiced a true voice for the people of Preston in all aspects of politics – socially, economically. I now feel that it’s time for me to…do whatever I can [for] this town and…where our children are going to go for the future, what type of legacy we are going to leave for our children in education, in their morality – and also in terms of making sure that everybody feels a stakeholder.”

Isabella Metcalf-Reiner (Green Party)

‘Green MPs will push a Labour government to be better.’

“All the polls are clear – the Conservatives are set for a historic defeat and Labour will win a landslide majority. The concern is that Keir Starmer’s Labour government will not implement the real change that we so desperately need. It’s clear that we need more than just a few small tweaks to undo the damage of the last 14 years of Conservative governments.

“Green MPs in Parliament will push Labour to be better, be braver, be bolder, be more ambitious – on everything from workers rights and the NHS to climate action, support for Gaza and eradicating poverty.

“I know, in particular, that many people feel let down by Keir Starmer’s Labour…by Keir Starmer declaring that Israel had a right to cut off water and electricity to Gaza and ordering his MPs to not vote for a ceasefire in Parliament. It’s particularly disappointing that our MP here in Preston, Sir Mark Hendrick, followed Keir Starmer’s orders and did not vote for a ceasefire. The Green Party have been clear in our stance since the very beginning of this crisis, calling for immediate and mutual ceasefire, the unconditional release of all hostages and a suspension of arms sales to Israel.

“Vote Green on 4th July for real hope and real change.”

The two remaining candidates – James Elliot (Reform UK) and Derek Killeen (UKIP) – sent their apologies.

Subscribe: Keep in touch directly with the latest headlines from Blog Preston, join our WhatsApp channel and subscribe for our twice-a-week email newsletter. Both free and direct to your phone and inbox.

Read more: See the latest Preston news and headlines

Share
Preston in pictures 155 345 1XXX 08XX leeds - Blackpool North awaits time at Preston (10XX) Tuesday 23rd May 1989Preston City Mela 2024Preston City Mela 2024Preston City Mela 2024Preston City Mela 2024Preston City Mela 2024Preston City Mela 2024Preston City Mela 2024 View more
Advertisement
Subscribe to the newsletter

Sign up below to receive Blog Preston's email newsletter. It wings its way into inboxes every Sunday and Wednesday rounding up our top stories and more.

Advertisement
News by location

Find news by location, select an area of your choice to be kept up to date with the latest goings on.

The Preston Guide

Discover local businesses and services near you.

Advertisement
Categories

Find news by category, select an category of your choice to be kept up to date with the latest goings on.

Blog Preston email updates

Receive our digest of the biggest and best stories every Sunday to your email inbox

We respect your privacy and you can unsubscribe at any time from our emails