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General Election 2024 : Ealing Central and Acton hustings

With all candidates across Ealing confirmed as standing for the General Election on 4 July 2024, residents in the borough now have the opportunity to meet and question them at events known as hustings. 

In the Ealing Central and Acton constituency, the local community heard from seven out of eight candidates in a hustings on Monday evening (24 June 2024).

This hustings was organised by Outreach West London and hosted in Acton Mosque on Oldham Terrace. The organisers told EALING.NEWS: “The aim is to encourage people, especially within the Muslim community, to engage with the political system and exercise their democratic right to vote.

“Hustings provide voters with the opportunity to personally meet their candidates and ask them any questions about their concerns and issues. They can compare the candidates’ responses and this can help them to make more informed decisions on election day.”

There were two returning candidates in attendance and the rest were newcomers standing in the general election for Ealing Central and Acton for the first time.

The most recent Labour MP for Ealing Central and Acton, Dr Rupa Huq, attended the hustings, having previously been elected in the seat for 3 terms. Dr Kate Crossland who has stood in Council and General elections before, also appeared as a returning candidate for her fifth year for the Green Party. 

A new Conservative candidate was present, James Windsor-Clive, who had previously ran for the Conservatives in the Hammersmith and Fulham local election. He hopes to follow in his great, great uncle’s footsteps, Hubert Dugan, who served the people of Acton from 1931-43.

Nada Jarche, who previously ran for the Conservative party in local elections for Isleworth in 2018 and for Hounslow Heath in 2021, is now standing for the Workers Party of Britain.

The Liberal Democrats candidate Alastair Mitton is standing for his first parliamentary election, after having stood in the 1982 council election for Perivale and in 2018 and 2022 for Elthorne. 

Stephen Balogh previously stood for the Social Democratic Party in the London Assembly election earlier this year and is now running as a candidate for this party in the General election.

Finally, Julie Carter is running as an independent candidate, after previously standing in three separate elections for UKIP. She now believes that the “times of the party system are behind us and the way of the future is voting for a personality.” 

The only candidate missing was Felix Orrell from Reform UK, who was contacted multiple times but failed to attend.

The event brought together around 100 people from diverse faith communities across the Ealing Acton constituency.

The atmosphere of the night was intense and heated, as emotions rose high on issues of what is happening in Palestine. Members of the audience seemed to be planted with the sole purpose of jeering and interrupting certain candidates. The team of moderators tried to manage this as fairly as possible to ensure everyone felt safe and welcome.

The host began with opening remarks and asked a question regarding the current distrust and lack of confidence in politicians. The audience were then invited to submit their questions and address them directly to the panel, where each candidate had 1-2 minutes to respond. Here are the highlights from the hustings.

Foreign Policy Question: What will you do to end the genocide in Gaza?

Julie Carter (Independent): “I have done enough research for a Havard PHD on this subject in the past two weeks. I have lived in the Middle East. I have Middle Eastern connections and Jewish connections and my gut tells me it isn’t possible at this time to have a two-state solution. I am not advocating for anyone, not even one person, being killed. A lot has happened, but I don’t think there is a viable way going forward and if there is I’d be happy for anyone to tell me how it can be done without compromising Israel’s security as well and actually how the plan can be implemented.

“We have to stop the killing that’s for sure…We can’t bring people back and I do think it is up to neighbours and people in their community to come together and sort it out. Not people thousands of miles away who have other problems to sort out – their own bus routes, their education, their own training schemes.”

Before Rupa began speaking she was interrupted by an audience member, who is related to one of the other candidates, accusing Rupa of not voting for a ceasefire. To be factually correct and set the record straight – Rupa Huq was included in the list of Labour MPs who voted for a ceasefire despite their party’s position.

Rupa Huq (Labour): “We must suspend arm sales to Israel. Thatcher did that. Tony Blair did that. Why can’t this government do that? We must adhere to International law. The ICJ judgement came out and said we are heading towards plausible genocide so we can’t just ignore those and put our fingers in our ears.

“The UK has a unique historic responsibility. So when it came to the first vote on the ceasefire I was one of 56 rebel MPs, but I am pleased to say that my party position has changed by having people like myself, Muslim MPs. So the Labour party position is now for a sustainable ceasefire. It has to happen. We need to recognise the state of Palestine. How can you have a two-state solution if you only recognise one of those states? So the next Labour government will work towards that.”

Alastair Mitton (Liberal Democrats): “I think we have to recognise that this is a 76 year old conflict that needs to come to a stop and stop now. Not just looking at Gaza. Not just looking at what is actually happening on the northern border in Lebanon, but the entire thing needs to stop. We need an immediate ceasefire. We’ve been calling for that from the beginning. We need the return of all the hostages because the Israelis are not, the hard cold reality is, until they get their people back, they are not going to talk. So we need the return of all the hostages. We need an immediate start of meaningful negotiations towards a two-state solution and what I mean by meaningful is not ‘is it going to happen?’ but ‘how is it going to happen?’. 

“We were also the very first party to call for the banning of weapon sales to Israel…For the last four sessions in Parliament Layla Moran who is half-Palestinian and who is our foreign affairs spokesperson has introduced a motion calling for the recognition of the state of Palestine. It’s been voted down four times. That needs to go through. We need recognition of the state of Palestine. 

Stephen Balogh (SDP): “The SDP is committed to the whole community here in the United Kingdom, with the common factor being UK citizenship, right to reside and so on. So here in Ealing, we have many different backgrounds and our emphasis is on all of those things we hold in common. So the SDP does not hold a formal position on Israel and Gaza, what it does say is that similarly to the situation in Ukraine, until there is a cessation of military activity, there will never be the chance of a lasting peace settlement.

“So the SDP is also urging the international authorities, the UN and so on to bring about a ceasefire as quickly as possible, but my first loyalty in front of you and in front of any constituent is to bring together all the citizens of this constituency so for that reason the SDP does not hold a position one way or another.”

Nada Jarche (Workers Party GB): “The Workers Party has been very vocal about what is going on in Falasteen. This is not war, this is genocide. Since 2008, the UK has licensed arms worth over 574 million to Israel. 3.4 billion to Israel for aid, which has been spent on bombing innocent mothers, children, fathers.

“Even though we live in Britain our tax money is paying to bomb these innocent lives every single day. It has been 261 days since the genocide started…We will always make sure that a ceasefire and our voices are heard. Not only are our Muslim brothers being killed but our Christian brothers are also being killed…We at the Workers Party call for an immediate ceasefire to ensure the money that goes to foreign countries is invested in Britain for a better Britain and better lives.”

James Windsor-Clive (Conservatives): I deplore violence and I want to see an end to the conflict as soon as possible. The UK government has acted, we sent 2000 tonnes of food aid to Gaza. We’ve sent 100 million pounds in aid. We’ve contributed to the building of the dock that’s got aid into Gaza.”

This comment was met with uproar from the audience and “Free Palestine” chanting. The timer had to be paused and restarted.

“The Government wants to see a sustainable ceasefire, we want to see a long term solution: the immediate release of the hostages, the removal of Hamas, a new government in Gaza and the West Bank and a proper platform for a two-state solution.”

Dr Kate Crossland (Green Party): “We must all raise our voices to call for a ceasefire that must be a uniting principle across the country, across the world. I don’t see how there can be any disagreement. In this country, we need to be honest with ourselves about the arms trade. We seem to be proud of it. I’ve been to campaigns in East London against the arms fair that happens there every two years, even a big Excel Centre filled with arms traders it’s disgusting. It really worries me when one party here talks about growing the economy as a way to solve some of the problems we face because when we grow that economy it means growing arms sales that are unacceptable. We need to do things differently. 

“The question was how do we stop the killing? And the reality is whoever gets selected to be the MP, one voice amongst all those, there’s not a great deal you can do it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. But we do have a platform and therefore we have a responsibility…We can drive anti semitism, we can drive Islamophobia with the words that we use and we must be careful and we must be respectful and that’s something we can all do in this room.”

Healthcare Question: How will you improve the NHS services and waiting times, especially for the elderly?

Rupa Huq (Labour): “The NHS was a labour creation in 1948. It was seen as a crazy idea at the time, but it has been chronically underfunded these last 14 years, so much so that the waiting lists have ballooned. 7.5 million people are on waiting lists. And we know that locally there was ‘the shaping a healthier future’ programme and some of us who marched. I can see brothers and sisters in this room. We were all united, we managed to stop the closure of A&E at Charing Cross and Ealing. We didn’t quite succeed at Hammersmith, it will be in my new expanded constituency.

“So Labour will have a massive programme of training health professionals…We’re also looking at things like technological advances, STEM and things like that. We’re falling behind. We don’t prioritise life sciences and all those things enough. So for example, everyone will have a family doctor appointment. We’ve got various sets of targets in the manifesto that we bought collaboration between different teaching hospitals to share specialisms. We’ve got a plan to cut waiting lists, I think, in the next first term, they’re going to be halved…We will pay staff properly we have a really good policy for a new deal for working people…In social care again, we’re going to join our primary, secondary social care, and health care.”

Alastair Mitton (Liberal Democrats): “The NHS is a particularly important thing to me because Ealing hospital saved my life eight years ago and there is absolutely nothing that I can do that will ever repay them. My campaign will only be a tiny thing to give back to them. The Liberal Democrats will ensure that everybody has the legal right to see their GP within seven days. Or within 24 hours if it’s urgent and that will be either their GP or the most appropriate person because if it’s a physiotherapist, then they need to see a physiotherapist, not the GP. 

“One of the big problems that there is in hospital care is that up to a third of all beds are occupied by people who could go home, but they don’t have a care package in place. Either they go into a care home or to go back to their home with the appropriate package. We will make sure that they have a legal right to free care in their home or into a care home. To support the care home, what we will be doing is increasing the hourly minimum wage two pounds above legal so that it’s much more attractive for people to come into the profession. That will massively free up beds in hospitals and the flow will start again. But first and foremost, Primary Care is what is actually going to solve the healthcare crisis because it’s about the GPs who need to see their patients and at the moment, the waiting times are ridiculous.”

Stephen Balogh (SDP): This is from the manifesto’s short extracts – the principle is that all citizens should have access to vital health care. So there will be a radical increase in training capability within the UK for doctors and nurses and other clinicians, specialist clinical universities will be established to achieve this. That’s the first part. 

“The second part is the establishment of a national care service, which will organise, implement and fund social care throughout the country to provide a good quality comprehensive service that is not a postcode lottery, that it is somewhat at the moment. Back to the NHS, we’ve elected a target of elective surgery within six weeks and the waiting time at A&E in London will be under three hours. But we don’t believe that that can be done very quickly or that would be done within a part of a single parliament. 

“But there’s a third part as well, the National care service that would be principally for older citizens and the NHS for everyone. There is a role for a public volunteer service, of those who are over 65 who volunteer for frontline roles, which have credits against the possibility of care costs of their own later on. So there would be a quid pro quo in terms of credits, and also families to accommodate a parent over 80 years old in the same dwelling will be entitled to deduct 100% of the cost of state funded aged care services from taxation.”

Nada Jarche (Workers Party GB): So the Workers Party, we will look into fully renationalisation for the NHS. We will also look into increased funding for the NHS. Currently 12,000 pound per minute is spent on upgrading nuclear weapons instead of going towards our NHS. This money can be invested in our NHS. 

“We will look into having GP hubs for the elderly which will be having your own designated nurse, which will do home checks and ensure that your health is in line. This means the 80 weeks waiting will be free for the public to be available for them and ensure that they get to be seen by their GP surgery. I have experienced the firsthand experience with my family in terms of GP and their lack of support on a life threatening incident. Therefore, the Workers Party will look into bringing all the money that’s invested outside into our NHS and ensure that the public and the elderly are looked after.

James Windsor-Clive (Conservatives): “The waiting lists are too high and the NHS faces some fundamental problems. We’ve got an ageing population and we’re already spending four in every 10 pounds of taxpayers money on the NHS. So throwing money at the problem necessarily isn’t the answer. It’s all about having a plan and reforming it. That’s why the Conservatives have got a clear plan to go to the pharmacy first. So that means you could do more through your pharmacy, taking pressure off frontline services NHS. 

“We’ve already done 160 Community diagnostic centres to make sure that people are getting their appointments on time. We’ve implemented the long term workforce plan. So we’re gonna be training more doctors and more nurses to fill those critical labour shortages. The Conservatives care fundamentally about improving health care and it is one of our top priorities. And we’re investing 3.6 billion into new technology that will allow us apps in your GP surgery that will again allow GPS to treat people who really need it, rather than some of the easier cases.”

Dr Kate Crossland (Green Party): “I am an NHS doctor…I’ll tell you something about my working day. I do not have time to look for better ways to do things. I’m far too busy looking after the patients. We’ve had systemic underfunding with a view to privatisation, that’s what we’ve been dealing with and that’s what we need to address. In the Green Party, we’ve been honest about the need to change the way we tax people in this country so that the broader shoulders contribute more so that we can fund their public services properly, because that’s why we need more money in our public services. We need to pay people properly so they stay and the long term workforce plan was very welcome, but didn’t mention pay. Weirdly. 

“We need to fund buildings, not technology. I work for a trust that has just had a cyber attack because the infrastructure isn’t there to prevent these things. It’s also the very same trust that lost its entire server infrastructure in a heatwave a couple of years ago. These are the problems we need to start fixing, not AI to help our patients, but basic infrastructure. We need to look at mental health. We’ve made a promise within the Green Party that we’ll have the same kind of target, in which we’ll see someone about your mental health within 28 days, putting it on equal footing with physical health care. 

Julie Carter (Independent): “So no one here chooses to get sick. Some people never see a doctor until they’re very old, maybe never. Other people from birth, have chronic conditions that need a lot of care, which means a lot of money and resources put into them. My choice would be to fund the NHS completely for everything it needs and have absolutely no limit on anything. We should be the jewel in the crown for the world of the best and a free point of entry, NHS in the world as we used to be.

“It may not be your surgery, but many GP surgeries are actually businesses that are run like shops. The GPS actually buy their buildings and they charge the NHS for their services. It is run like a company. There are some things that they will do for you. There are other things that they’re paid more for and less for. I don’t know if you’re aware of that. I was shocked to hear that. I have been in an NHS hospital and I’ve had excellent care above ground. When I’m below ground when I go into the A&E and the urgent care unit, I feel like I’m in a different world. The two don’t correlate. You’re in one one room full of people coming and going. It’s dirty there, you wait for hours, that has to go immediately. Otherwise, let’s make it the best NHS in the world. As I said, unlimited funding. No one chooses to get sick and I’ll make sure that happens.”

Social care Question: What is your party’s stance on the two-child cap on benefits?

Nada Jarche (Workers Party GB): “We will look into uncapping the cap that has been put,, because we believe that every child has a right. Obviously, benefits can help them for the future. Child Benefit is something that they save for their future when they turn 18. So we’re looking to uncapping the two child policy and ensure that we’ve got the right benefits that’s required for these kids because they will use that money to invest in the future. For when they graduate and so on.”

James Windsor-Clive (Conservatives): “I think there’s two aspects on this. On one side, no one wants to see child poverty. But child benefits incentivize low income families to have more children, when middle income families are having to make really difficult decisions about whether to have a child or not. It’s whether those middle income families who are paying taxes should pay for people on low incomes to have children when they can’t and they’re making that sacrifice. So the government policy is to maintain the two child cap. I hope that we can institute other things to alleviate child poverty which has grown under it, but I think as a matter of fairness, we should keep it in place.”

Dr Kate Crossland (Green Party): “So first of all, we need to fact check. So the child benefit cap is not about child benefits. I think that’s not been made very clear in the media. So Child Benefit is what everyone gets, except if you’re an income threshold above 40 to 60,000. So Child Benefit is what you get for every child if you’re earning less than 60,000. That’s not capped. What’s capped is crueller, it’s for families receiving tax credits or Universal Credit who can’t claim for more than two children. So the poorest families are impacted the most. I have to say I just don’t understand that policy decision unless we have a government who thinks that poor people shouldn’t have children. We would scrap it.”

Julie Carter (Independent): “A few years ago, I was shocked to learn how widespread child poverty is in our community. And it’s shocking to know that in London where we are, there is so much poverty. It can’t stay like that. I also do believe that children should get a breakfast and a hot lunch in schools regardless of whether their parents can afford it or not, because sometimes parents cannot cook or take care of their children for every meal and that is very important for their education. But so is housing, it all goes hand in hand. You cannot have children functioning well without proper hot meals two or three times a day. Also, excellent housing, they can’t have good things on one end and then go home and not have a home or have a bad home. It’s a big problem. And I think it goes beyond credits and caps and everything else and there has to be a new paradigm here for that.”

Rupa Huq (Labour): “Yes, so the two child limit was introduced by the most recent Conservative government. We argued tooth and nail against it as a very cruel thing…Given the financial situation we have now we voted against it. So I voted several times against and that was pushed through by the current Conservative government. It’s not something that’s going to happen on day one of a Labour government but if we look at the history of Labour governments, Gordon Brown lifted 800,000 children out of child poverty, we have a very good record on this. He’s been on record as arguing against this two child limit. 

“So it’s not a day one thing in time, I’d like to think that we can get rid of it. It’s just the state of the finances we’re going to inherit should we be reelected. Everything has been very carefully costed that there is sort of a correlated promise and then tax rates to some of those things that were just mentioned breakfast clubs for all children, so that they can go to school when you know people you see go to school, and be having a bag of crisps on the bus or not even might go to school on an empty stomach. You can’t work on an empty stomach. Some of these things we’re going to introduce a mental health counsellor in every school. We’ve all seen, those of us who are parents, what COVID did to our kids, so it’s something we would have never dreamed of doing. We want to get rid of it in time.”

Alastair Mitton (Liberal Democrats): Our position on the two-child limit is very simple it’s gone. We would abolish it. And I think that the problems with young parents go much further than that. We want to double the statutory maternity and paternity pay to 350 pounds a week,and we also want to introduce an enhanced rate of child benefits, which we call we call the top up, which will be for up to one year olds, because that’s the period when things are at their toughest for any parent..And so it’s just a little bit of extra for that early start, just to get you through is what we would be introducing. And then we would also improve paternity leave so that they get 90% of their earnings during the course of their paternity leave. Because, you know, there’s no doubt about it. Mom’s probably at her wit’s end, her eyes are out in stalks, because she’s not getting any sleep. She needs dad to be there during the day. And he can be there during the day. If he gets properly renumerated for it, like I say 90% of its money.”

Stephen Balogh (SDP): “So the SDP has a very strong, all round package for supporting families and family life. And these are some of the extracts from it. So the income tax allowance would be fully transferable for any couple bringing up children. So within a couple, no income tax will be payable until beyond 25,000 pounds, allowing them to keep more of their money and make it more likely that it could be a single earner supporting the whole family and allowing if the mother typically wanted to stay at home with the children to do so. The national living wage would be increased over the time of a parliament to two thirds of the median income, which is the OECD definition of low pay. Again, giving more chance for net income to support family. Auto enrolment in pensions for every one pound increase in wages, an additional 20p up to 8% total would have to go towards pensions. So long term pension pots, and then two or three more quick ones, free school meals for all state school children during term time. Married families would have preference for social housing, which the SDP would restore to 100,000 a year honourable and apartment parents would be given strong support as well.”

Click here for all Ealing Central & Acton candidates standing.

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