Candidates' Lack of Local Knowledge Exposed at Hustings

Eric Leach feels contenders failed to capitalise on Deirdre Costigan's absence

One of the speaker's at Sunday's event. Picture: SGSSS

June 26, 2024

There was a mixed reaction to candidates’ responses at the Ealing Southall General election hustings at Norwood Hall this Sunday (23 June).

Organised by the Gurwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha Southall (SGSSS), over 100 people attended along with half of the 12 candidates standing for the seat.

One of those not present was Labour candidate, Deirdre Costigan. We asked her campaign team for the reason she wasn’t there but haven’t received a response.

Local resident Eric Leach, who lives in Hanwell Broadway ward was present and was disappointed not to see the representative of the incumbent party not attending along with the Conservative’s candidate George Calle.

While he found it difficult to identify some of the candidates due to the lack of signage or written information provided, he was impressed with some of the speakers. He found Neil Reynolds of the Green Party to be knowledgeable and articulate and felt that the Liberal Democrat’s Tariq Mahmood, LibDem, was impressive on NHS issues which was understandable as he’s an NHS consultant. Jaginder Singh, a Southall entrepreneur, standing as an independent, appeared passionate about helping Southall residents and Peter Ward, of Rejoin EU, was ‘good on his feet’ which was probably due to him being a barrister. He has a long local political history and told the audience of when, as a member of Ealing Labour when he was involved in the ousting of former Ealing Southall MP Piara Khabra in 2006.

Mr Leach felt that the candidates missed their chance in the absence of other contenders. He said, “There’s clearly a demographic deficit in Ealing Southall. Admittedly the Husting was held in Southall but none of the candidates made any reference to any of the specific local issues in Northfield, Hanwell Broadway or Walpole Wards. That’s 27,000 of the 75,000 electors ignored.

“One question just about floored all the candidates. It was ‘tell us about your involvement in local campaigns including Warren Farm, Save Ealing Hospital and Southall Post Office’. It was very telling that most of them had nothing to say on these issues. This strongly suggested no involvement is these huge campaigns running for many years.”

Mr Leach did find parts of the meeting organisation chaotic and the public address system was inadequate. He believes that some people were discouraged from coming having seen on Eventbrite that all seats were taken. In the event no checks were made on the door and there were empty seats.

However, he added the chair of the meeting was impartial and did a good job, other than perhaps when he let one audience member speak for too long, and that the SGSSS should be congratulation for organising the event which, it is believed, is the only one being held in the Ealing Southall constituency.

Candidates in Ealing Southall

Workers Party - Darshan Azad
Independent - Sangeet Bhail
Independent - Joe Bhangu
Conservative - Georgie Callé
Reform UK - Steve Chilcott
Labour - Deirdre Costigan
Independent - Pedro Da Conceicao
Liberal Democrats - Tariq Mahmood
Independent - Niko Omilana
Green - Neil Reynolds
Independent - Jaginder Singh
Rejoin EU - Peter Ward


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