No show for Jonathan Djanogly at St Neots hustings, but other candidates answer questions on food banks, climate change and foreign aid

L-R Mark Argent, Paul Bullen, Daniel Laycock and Samuel Sweek. Four out of the six candiates were at

L-R Mark Argent, Paul Bullen, Daniel Laycock and Samuel Sweek. Four out of the six candiates were at the hustings. - Credit: Archant

All the prospective parliamentary candidates fighting the Huntingdon constituency seat were invited to a hustings event in St Neots on December 4. Here’s what four of them had to say.

In a controversial move, Conservative candidate Jonathan Djanogly refused to share a platform with the Lib Dem's Mark Argent, accusing him of publishing "fake news" and pulled out.

Mark Argent, referring to Mr Djanogly's refusal to attend, said: "This election is theirs (the Conservatives) to lose. Evading debate is slightly dangerous in my view. Conservatives across the country are using any available excuse not to attend hustings. This election should be about climate change and securing the NHS. Brexit is an embarrassment. Climate change is the biggest threat humanity faces, but it's been pushed off the agenda."

Paul Bullen explained that he has lived in the area for 30 years and served as a county councillor and a magistrate. He was also the former group leader for UKIP on the county council.

He said: "This election is not all about Brexit. It is about what sort of democracy and country you want in the future.


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I believe in democracy and will fight for the right Brexit deal for the UK - not the EU and, most importantly, I want our country to be a free and independent nation again."

Daniel Laycock began his address by making reference to Mr Djanogly's empty chair, accusing him of being "too scared to show up". He admitted he voted to leave the EU in 2016 and had since "changed his mind". He said: "We are facing a climate crisis and are on the verge of irreversible damage. We have to work together as the political system is so broken."

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Samuel Sweek described Mr Djanogly's failure to attend as "life imitating art". He said: "Mr Djanogly does not think he needs to be accountable to you. I want to earn your vote. You have been let down and left behind by Conservative rule. I am standing on a platform for real change. People are struggling and I say, 'no more'." He added: "If we don't act on climate change it is game over for us."

Questions

Climate Change.

SS: "Climate change is the biggest and most important issue we face. I am very proud of the Labour manifesto to address the massive climate crisis and cut emissions by 2030, ban fracking and end the palm oil trade."

DL: "We need to plan things differently and consider infrastructure before building. Ban HS2, coal mines and airport expansion. There are huge fears about what is going to happen in the next few years and the Conservative government has not dealt with the crisis."

PB: "Climate change is happening, but I question the science that says it is man-made. Electricity is the most polluting form of energy we have, we have to go nuclear. We don't need knee-jerk reactions. We need fact-proof data."

MA: "This is a major crisis and we have to take people with us. It is human activity driving this and it is pretty scary. We have to work together and co-operate to bring about social change."

Food Banks

SS: "We are absolutely committed to ending the use of foodbanks. We will raise the minimum wage to £10 per hour. It is an absolute disgrace that some people are working two jobs and are still not able to live or feed their children."

MA: "Being in a situation where you do not know where your next meal is coming from scars people. We would change the delay in people receiving Universal Credit from five weeks to five days. The amount of people who are facing real problems is horrible."

PB: "We need to look at the tax system. We can't keep borrowing to balance the books. If we come out of the EU there will be more money to spend. Food banks are a national disgrace."

DL: "We would ban foodbanks. According to figures from the Trussell Trust the number of people using foodbanks is rising. It is degrading for people to use a foodbank. We would implement measures to lift people out of poverty, such as UBI, which would give every adult £89 per week."

Foreign Aid

PB: "Charity begins at home. We need to change the way we do things. Rather than sending cash to other countries, including corrupt government, we need to change the foreign aid policy to send help where it is needed. For instance, vaccination programmes."

SS: "We do need to look at how we distribute foreign aid. We are all responsible for those around the world who are less fortunate. We will ensure there is aid but stop selling arms abroad as this is a huge reason that some people are in poverty."

MA: "I am very much in support of maintaining the present level of foreign aid. We do need to think differently however."

DL: "The Green party intends to increase foreign aid. We have given aid to corrupt governments, but that is not the fault of the people who live there. We have to help people who can't be helped by their own governments."

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