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What a bloody day yesterday was. I was meant to be attending the Northfield Hustings, which I thought would mean a simple 20 minute bus journey and a nice stroll to the Northfield Baptist Church. What actually happened was a Tolkienesque epic involving several misdirections, hours of walking and a tepid Big Mac meal. All that was missing was a horde of grim-faced trolls and an overly loyal sidekick trying to help me to the church.

Anyway, the Northfield Hustings. Below are my thoughts on the Hustings, but before I go into that, I should point out that a more professional account of the event (with more focus on policies) will be on Birmingham Recycled later. I also want to point that I have tried to put aside my own political stance (if you don’t know what that is, look at my Twitter profile and I’m sure you’ll find out due to my regular ill-advised outbursts) and cover the hustings impartially.

Firstly, I want to give masses of credit to the organisers of the event and the residents of Northfield. What could have been a shambles was actually an extremely well organised event (right down to the klaxons signalling the end of the candidates two minutes) that was extremely well-attended. Not only did the residents of Northfield turn out in force, they came with multiple questions, all of incredibly high quality. So congratulations to the organisers and residents who made the hustings a bit like those Leaders’ Debates, only with a bit more substance.

I felt that every candidate gave a good account of themselves. Richard Burden (Labour) was particularly impressive, articulating some strong policy points with confidence and clarity. Similarly, Mike Dixon (Liberal Democrat) provided lots of substance in his answers and stood up well against some tough questioning.

Keeley Huxtable (Conservative) was the youngest of the candidates, but displayed a confidence and knowledge of her parties’ policies and provided a strong case for voting Conservative. To be honest, I felt that I learnt more about Conservative policy from her last night than I have from David Cameron over three hours of Leaders’ Debates. We all know the media loves a good personality, and that the leaders provide a good personalisation of the parties, but I think last night proved that these local debates are probably more beneficial to learning about policies than a constant focus on the leaders. Should the media be focusing more on local level election coverage? On last night’s evidence, definitely.

The surprise of the night for me was Dick Rodgers, an independent candidate for the Common Good party. I have to admit to succumbing to the media focus on the main three parties, but seeing an independent candidate Dick is involved with the church, so obviously his policies tended to have a Christian slant, but I felt that a great deal of the audience were on his side. He stood up well to the other three parties, and challenged their policies in a way that I feel a member of the main three parties couldn’t. It was a nice illustration of why independent parties are still important to the political process despite the three party dominance of parliament.

Anyway, I think I’ve rambled enough!

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