Last night 7 of the 9 candidates in Vauxhall spoke at a hustings in St. Mark's Church, Kennington, chaired by the vicar. There were well over 150 people present.
Each candidate was given two minutes to say why people should vote for them and then another two minutes to talk about their "moral compass". Danny Lambert said he didn't want people to vote for him unless they wanted socialism. James Kapetanos, of the Animals party, said he wanted people to vote out Kate Hoey for being chair of the Countryside Alliance and supporting fox-hunting. The others blew their own trumpets. On the second question, the candidates of the 3 main parties (two of them Protestants from the north of Ireland) said their moral compass was christianity. Joseph Healey, the Green candidate, said he was not religious but still "spiritual". Danny said he preferred to have a sextant or a sat-nav than a compass. The Animals candidate said he wanted people to vote out Kate Hoey for being chair of the Countryside Alliance and supporting fox-hunting.
The candidates were then given one minute to answer questions put by members of the audience.
A crusty waving a Class War poster denouncing Blair and Bush as "war criminals" and "wankers" asked the candidates whether they thought that Blair and Jack Straw should be tried as war criminals. The Rev chair changed this to "what did the candidates think of the Iraq War?" The crusty was not pleased and had to be escorted out of the church by the sidesmen. All the candidates said they were opposed to the war, including the Tory who said it was a mistake based on wrong information (omitting to say that most Tory MPs voted for the war). Jeremy Drinkall said there should have been a General Strike to stop it.
In answer to a question on "gay rights" (now called "LGBT") two of the candidates said that they were gay -- as if anyone cared, or should care. All the candidates were against discrimination on grounds of sexuality. It might have been different if the candidate from the nasty Christian Party had been present. Also missing was the English Democrat, Jose Navarro.
The other questions were on local, very local issues. The answers of Jeremy Drinkall and Joseph Healey were so similar that, at one point, the vicar got confused and called on a "Jeremy Healey" to answer a question.
Somebody asked if the candidates thought that capitalism could be run in the interests of the majority. Another blogger has suggested this question was a plant (we can't think who by). The candidates of the three main parties all said that capitalism was the only game in town and that what we should do was try to make it fairer, either through the tax system or (Kate Hoey) through this and trade union action. The Animals party candidate forgot Kate Hoey for a moment and wondered whether we were still living in a capitalist society. The Green candidate said that his Leader, Caroline Lucas, had recently said that the Green Party was "anti-capitalist". He himself was an "eco-socialist" who thought that capitalism couldn't continue. Jeremy Drinkall said "no, capitalism can never been made to work in the interests of the working class" and then went on to advocate the nationalisation of all banks and their amalgamation into a single State Bank. Danny Lambert, too, answered no but went on to advocate socialism where there'd be no banks and no money but the application of the principle "from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs".
At least two others bloggers have commented on this hustings. One was OK. The other, who doesn't seem to know -- or care -- much about what happens outside London SW8, refers to us as the "Socialist Workers Party" (and even provides a link to their website instead of ours), despite having been corrected on this point (see first comment here). He also has Danny speaking of a "socialist code of the morality of the market" whereas what he said was that "capitalism's code of morality was the market". He really should leave SW8 more often, perhaps venture as far as SW4 to inform himself more about who we are and what we stand for.
After the meeting, in the Hanover Arms opposite Danny was approached by a female vicar who said that he was a great orator and that if ever he had a conversion there'd be a place for him in the church. Danny took this as a compliment. The rest of us were not so sure.