Later today a great opportunity has been created by two charities I have connections with. They wanted to try to change the nature of the political discourse taking place in our city by inviting a candidate from each party and also an Independent candidate to come and speak to groups of people that usually get ignored by the political process. The two events in one are taking place between 2.30 and potentially as late as 5pm for those able to stay at One Church Gloucester place BN1 4AA for the whole afternoon. The starting point is at the end of a free lunch which is put on for vulnerable people by the Real Junk Food Project every week. The lunch starts at 1pm and usually ends at around 2.30 or 3pm. However the candidates have been invited to come along at 2.30 and speak to folk in ones and twos as they end their lunch and before they head off to wherever they usually go on a Friday afternoon. Immediately after this starting at 3pm a session in the same building will take place involving young people, organised by the YMCA Downslink Group. Because other events are taking place nearby that have invited the same political candidates, some will only be able to stay for 20minutes so in that time we will try to extract as much of an opportunity as possible to inform the young people of their views and ensure they are also challenged. However some of the party representatives are able to stay until 5pm and this will hopefully end with some questions and challenges that we will feed back to all of the candidates as they rush around our city and we hope they will then feedback their responses before election day.
Back to the title of my blog – the Conservative candidates and party have been the only group unwilling to engage in this event claiming that they are too busy campaigning to send anyone along because there is an election on! The event won’t empty chair them, but they won’t get a chance to explain their policies to those who show up to ask questions and who will then vote. It seems unlikely that the Conservative vote will be helped by this no show. Perhaps they have given up on Brighton & Hove? or perhaps young and vulnerable people don’t matter to them?