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General Election 2024 : Ealing North hustings

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

In the Ealing North constituency, the local community heard from six out of eight candidates in a hustings on Thursday evening (27 June 2024).

This hustings was organised by and hosted at St Barnabas church in Northolt. The organisers posted on Instagram: “What a privilege to serve our local community tonight by hosting a hustings for the candidates for Ealing North for the General Election. The building was packed. Thank you for all those who asked questions. Thank you for the candidates for making themselves vulnerable by answering our questions.”

The majority of the candidates for Ealing North were running for the general election for the first time, bar the Labour candidate who previously won the seat in the last 2019 election.

The Ealing North candidates who attended were: James Murray (Labour), Maria Khan (Conservatives), Craig O’Donnell (Liberal Democrats), Natalia Kubica (Green), Sameh Habeeb (Workers GB) and Leon Harris (Reform).

The night began with opening remarks and introductions, where each candidate was asked to explain why they wanted to run in this constituency and to present their top 3 priorities.

James Murray’s (Labour) top 3 priorities are: making sure people are better off, the NHS, and housing.

Maria Khan’s (Conservative) top 3 priorities are: to reduce crime rate by increasing policing, the NHS, and grow the economy in Ealing North through local business investments.

Craig O’Donnell’s (Liberal Democrats) top 3 priorities are: more support for carers, community policing, and ending long term homelessness by 2030. 

Natalia Kubica’s (Green) top 3 priorities are: the NHS, the Cost of living crisis, and the environment. 

Sameh Habeeb’s (Workers GB) top 3 priorities are: championing mental health services in the NHS, improving housing policy, and foreign policy, specifically in Palestine. 

Leon Harris’ (Reform) top 3 priorities are: cutting down immigration, increasing housing, and the NHS.

The hustings covered numerous topics from hyper-local issues such as the closing of the Black Horse pub, to ethical dilemmas such as allowing persisted suicide, and national issues such as education for children with special needs, as well as a thrilling quick fire round at the end. Here are the highlights of the questions raised.

Health & Social care Question: What will you do to ensure there are sufficient funds for social care and the NHS?

Maria Khan (Conservative): “In order to truly solve this problem as the question has suggested, we need to make the right amount of investment in the NHS. In the Conservative Party manifesto, we are promising that we will make an additional investment, a record investment into the NHS so that we can reduce the wait times. But just throwing money at the problem will not solve it. We also need to hire an additional member of qualified doctors and nurses, because that is what will truly bring down the waiting list. We have a plan to recruit more than 30,000 additional doctors and more than 80,000 additional nurses, because that’s what’s needed to truly bring down the waiting list. 

“In addition to that, I think people who are in need of medical emergency care, need to be able to get the treatment that they deserve. The plan’s around getting to the pharmacy first, making sure that the pharmacies on your local high streets are equipped with the right medical professionals who can look into your symptoms and give you the right medicine without you having to go and wait in an A&E for three to four hours, it’s absolutely the right thing to do. You can be there on your high street, go to your pharmacy and make sure you get the treatment that you need. 

“We also need to utilise technology and another thing which has been committed as part of the party manifesto is that we will use technologies like AI to make sure that when people want to book an appointment, they can actually find out what is wrong. They can talk to a really rich database, which has been fed by our most qualified doctors, who can then talk to the patients and say, ‘if you have these symptoms, then the first course of action is this’ and if you then need to actually see a GP it will  automatically connect you to the GP in your local area, that’s the kind of innovation, that’s truly needed. Just throwing money at it will not solve the problem. 

“And lastly, I just want to finish off by saying we also have to take a more community approach to solving the NHS issue, which is having more community diagnostic centres so that in your area in Ealing North, we have those community diagnostic centres where you can go and without having to wait, you can get access to the health care, you can get access to seeing the right professionals, getting the advice, getting the right medicine that you need in time.”

Craig O’Donnell (Liberal Democrats): “So basically, in terms of some of our key points in our manifesto, introducing a new £2 per hour higher care workers minimum wage, supporting young paid carers by raising the carers’ allowance….When Brexit happened, there was a lot of carers working with the elderly in that care home who slowly disappeared. They were there from Europe. They came over and they were caring for those elderly people. But then over the years, there’s just less and less of them, and we’ve got now a crisis where basically we are begging for people to come over here to care for our elderly. On our manifesto we’re calling to go back into the single market. Now we’re not saying go straight back into the EU, we’re saying single market to make it easier for people to come in and work and work in our care homes. 

Second question on GPs. On the front page of our manifesto we have a pledge for seeing your GP, within 24 hours in an emergency or within a week. It is on our manifesto on the front page and also in terms of bus passes for disabled people, I think we can make it faster and easier, because when you’re trying to say you need one, you’ve got to go through a whole ‘this is how to say what I am’, and then another. We’ve got to make it easier for people who are disabled to get free buses.

Natalia Kubica (Green): “I think the question mentioned we’ve got an ageing population. That’s absolutely true, and one thing that we really desperately need is free social care, along the lines of Scotland’s model. Just this morning, I spent two hours sorting out my grandad’s medication, because there is no one to do it, and it’s up to us as his family to do it because there’s just no funding for that to be available. 

“One conversation, I think, is often forgotten when we talk about this is housing. We need accessible housing for people with disabilities to be able to, you know, have social housing that’s accessible to them. And we also need to enable carers to be able to live with the family who they care for as well. That’s something that is very often forgotten in these type of conversations. 

“Back to the issue of social care. So the Green Party has pledged £20 billion extra investment in social care, which again, should be free, and we will, as I said, we will increase carers allowance by at least 10%, but all of this ties into the wider issue of lack of NHS funding, and I’m proud to say that I’ve stood on demonstrations against NHS privatisation for years, both in central London and here in Ealing and that, again, there’s something that the Green Party has been campaigning for years. We have the NHS that has been decimated by 14 years of Conservative government that has just taken away funding and follow the ideology that profit and health care can be improved by leaving it up to the market. That is absolutely not true. It’s up to the government and the state to fund that. 

“Yeah, once again, people have been stuck on the waiting list for years while their health deteriorates. I personally have a debilitating neurological condition that I was referred for treatment for three years ago. I have still not started that treatment. I’ve been stuck on the waiting lists the whole time, and that is a huge issue, especially for the elderly in our communities and that support needs to be there. The underlying principle is that healthcare should be for people not for profit. And that is something that the Green party has been saying for years and years.”

Sameh Habeeb’s (Workers GB): “I think when it comes to the NHS we have to be very blunt and clear that we should stop privatisation, both the Conservatives and the Labour Party are committed to privatisation whether they’ve said it in their manifesto or not. They’ve started it before, 2010. If you go back and you examine the records of the companies contracting their NHS, we see dozens of companies that are getting outsources from the NHS, getting more money into the pockets of those private companies. 

“So that’s the issue we’re dealing with. Keir Starmer did not commit to this issue, saying that we are never going to privatise the NHS. They’ll do it, and already a lot of you may have started to get decent private insurance because you can’t access the NHS services. It happened. For me, I travel to Turkey. In one day, I do all these checks that take you maybe three to four years, and it’s very cheap. They have a very strong, efficient healthcare system there. They have a very strong government that we don’t have. We’re lagging behind even Turkey and other countries, we don’t have a strong health system. It’s all because of austerity and the lack of vision from both parties.

“When it comes to social care, there are more than 70,000 a year overseas social care workers, and we have tens of thousands of asylum seekers and migrants in these ghettos up in the north and south, it should be processed quicker and get a lot of those to be involved and integrated in our society, to work in the social care system. When it comes to the NHS, again, we need better pay, we need more doctors, the GMC. A lot of people I know, I’ve met a lot of people who are refugees still, you know they can’t help themselves. We need more doctors. We have a crisis.”

Leon Harris’ (Reform): “This NHS is obviously in a mess at the minute. To be fair, it needs reforming. What they need to do is actually look at it for what it really is. It’s basically a business at one end, people that are ordering all this stuff and telling all the doctors and workers what to do etc and then you’ve got the care side of it as well. If you take that into account, it is essentially a business. If you’re running a business, I am sure we have business owners here, you don’t just start throwing money at it and hoping things are going to start to get better. You need to overhaul the whole system, figure out where all the money’s going. And currently, a lot of it is going into what they call the diversity zones. So these people are getting paid £150,000 a year to turn around and say, well, we don’t have enough coloured people within our branches, nothing to do with their abilities or the qualifications or experiences. So of course, that needs sorting out from the start. We need to start hiring people based on ability, none of this diversity nonsense. We have got one of those. So we need one of those. Despite the fact that we actually need a heart surgeon, we don’t care. The patient doesn’t care what colour the person is. Bottom line, they don’t care, all right. They just want someone that can do the job and do the job properly, do it well.

“Somebody mentioned earlier about like GP appointments and stuff like that. What reform want to do is introduce a policy where if you don’t get seen within three days, like your GP, can’t arrange anything for you, then you get a private voucher. Your private voucher entirely seems to go private, and the money follows the patient where the money should have been spent on the patient within the NHS, that money follows the patient to the private industry as well. It’s sorted straight away…The private voucher system is the way forward. We can make an absolute killing…saving on the funds that have been spent on diversity. People that we don’t actually get any benefit from, but they are costing us an absolute fortune. 

“Transport for disabled people, there’s a thing now called co-production, and if all of these transport services were designed and built from the ground up and the disabled people are actually consulted, then we get a system that works for the disabled people, not just people selling offices thinking this will do. I mean, I don’t know if any of you have been down to Hammersmith lately. They started introducing cycle lanes, which are in between the pavement and the bus. So you’ve got blind people stepping off of buses straight into cycle lanes. It’s madness. It’s bad enough with cars coming, but if you’re a blind person, and you can’t hear the bicycle or something like that coming, you’ve had it. The bus companies are expecting you to step off a bus into a bus lane, I mean who thought of that one? We need consulting, rather than being told where our money is being spent.”

James Murray (Labour): “I think quite often, we don’t understand the real problems with the social care system until we experience it through a parent, a grandparent, a close relative, and see just what a mess it is now and just how much reform it needs. This is actually something where we think in the Labour Party, we do need a degree of cross party consensus on this. This is one that shouldn’t be fought over, but this is one we need to come up with a solution to as a country. And so we committed in our manifesto that if we get into office, we will develop a plan, a 10 year plan for a national care service, which looks to have deep reform in the way that social care works, to make sure we got there the right system for people across the country. But we can start with some stuff already, if we get in before we have had that long term that plan come down, and some of the things we’ve put on our manifesto is making sure social care operates on a home first basis, to keep people independently at home for as long as possible, and a fair pay agreement for social care staff. Because we know that social care workers, who do some of the most important work in society and get paid often very badly have lacked career progression opportunities are not valued in the way that they should be. 

“And we can get hospitals in social care places to work together about hospital discharge, because I go from visiting Ealing hospital and one of the issues of A&E is not actually a problem of A&E. It’s about discharging people from A&E once they’re ready to leave. And that’s a problem for the social care system. That’s one of the things that ends up meaning A&E in Ealing hospitals are busier than it needs to be. It’s not really an issue with A&E as such. It’s an issue that people not being able to leave A&E when they’re ready to go. So those are some things we get to work on right away. But I go back to my point. This does need a degree of cross party consensus. It needs to be a long term plan. That’s what we focus on in government if we’re elected. 

“Natalia you mentioned you had a neurological condition. I also have one myself, also, which was diagnosed in 2008 and I’m so thankful, actually in 2008 that I did get seen. I was able to get referred to the National Hospital for neurology and neurosurgery in central London, which is fantastic, one of the best hospitals for the condition I have in the world and for the NHS, because goodness me it gave a second chance of life getting that treatment there. When I think about the difficulties that someone with the same condition as me now might face in getting a GP appointment in the first place and getting referred concerns about shortages of medicines, which I take every day to keep me going, keep me symptom free that really worries me, that really upsets me, that people might face challenges now to get the same treatment that I was so lucky to receive with 15 odd years ago. 

“That’s why we need to make sure the NHS is fit for the future now, again, as I’ve said earlier this evening, things are in a mess. This is not something we can fix overnight. But one thing that we’ve set out in our manifesto is about tackling the NHS backlog, which we know it’s over seven and a half million at the moment, the record backlog in the NHS. We want to create 2 million extra appointments a year to bring down that NHS backlog urgently. As a part of the shadow Treasury team, I’ve been developing plans about tackling tax avoidance to help pay for that, to make sure we can get that back up down as quickly as possible. Some of that money would also go into preventative care, investing in new cancer scanners, doubling the number of cancer scanners, so that we can calculate on this earlier and start the process of reforming reforming the NHS rather from an acute emergency response, where people are already ill and already have their illnesses progressed to find it early and make sure the treatment gets in there preventatively or things are caught early to make sure they don’t progress at all possible. And that’s the NHS that we want, that’s the NHS that we need, that the NHS that we deserve. It’s not all about investment. It is also about reform and making sure the NHS works the way that is fit for the future.”

Cost of living Question: What will you do to reduce taxes that are affecting the poor? What are your thoughts on the recent benefits reform discussion?

James Murray (Labour): “So we’re in a position in this country, where we live in a tax system, where tax burden is at its highest now, in 70 years. Taxes have gone up and up over the last 14 years, and it is a really big contributor to the fact that working people are struggling to make ends meet. The fact that taxes have gone up so much, coming into an election in our manifesto, and we have the fast line guarantee that if we are elected, we will not increase income tax, cash, insurance or VAT, because we know those are the taxes which affect working people the most. We will not increase them, because we don’t want the burden to get any higher. What we also know is that we want the tax burden for working people to be lower. But what we are never going to do in the Labour Party is make promises which are unfounded, which are reckless, and which risk our economic stability. Because we saw what happened with Liz Truss when she crashed the economy promising what she couldn’t pay for and we’re still paying the price with higher mortgages and a worse economy now. 

“If we win the election we will put into place our plan to get the economy growing. On the back of the growing economy, that’s how we can make people better off. That’s how we can learn to lower the tax burden. That is how we can get sustainable funding for public services, because people are feeling squeezed as a result of those higher taxes. So the benefit system as well, I mean, there’s plenty that we’d like to look at but anything we promise in our manifesto is fully costed and fully funded. The thing that runs through so many of the decisions the government has taken in recent years whether that’s to do with the benefits system, their wider approach to fuel poverty, food security, there is a rising level of child poverty in this country, we want to have a cross government strategy to tackle child child poverty if we’re elected. The Labour government did that before in 2010 and if we’re elected next Thursday, we want to do it again, bringing down those child poverty numbers. It’s shameful that child poverty has been on the increase in recent years and any government should do something about it.”


Maria Khan (Conservative): “So between 2010 and 2014 the Conservative Party has actually increased the tax free allowance by more than 50%, that’s a fact that we have done. I don’t agree with the comment that the taxes have actually just increased under the Conservatives watch, because just last year, we actually were able to reduce the national insurance by about 900 pounds for an average worker in the UK. It helped everyone, £900 per month that’s more money into your pocket, because we have actually reduced the taxes.

“In terms of the plans going forward in the manifesto, we have confirmed that the Conservative Party, between now and 2027 will further cut down the income tax by £1350. In addition to that, we also want to ensure that we reduce the taxes for people who work as freelancers. We also want to ensure we cut down the taxes for SMEs (Small/Medium sized enterprises) because we want to boost our economy, we can actually move the economy by incentivizing SMES. 

“Lastly about pensioners there has been a wide debate about, ‘why are we taxing pensioners?’ and the Labour Party have not made any commitment that they will actually not tax pensioners. There have been time and again when we have actually commented on about 2000 pounds more tax that working class people will have to pay, there’s no clarity on that. Regarding pensioners for Conservative government, which introduced a triple lock in 2010 to protect the pensions of people and make sure that they don’t have to pay income tax. To also bolster and strengthen that, we are now committed to ensuring a triple lock plus, which means that state pension will not fall into income tax. That way we’’re giving the security and dignity to pensioners to be able to retire without having to think about how much tax they are going to pay. 

“Lastly, I would like to call out that when we talk about tax, we often forget that there are a lot of people here, young people in the audience, across Ealing and the country who are now in university who are our future entrepreneurs. What are we doing to make sure that we are incentivizing them to start up companies, to create more businesses within the UK to make the UK and ensure that we sustain the role of being a hotspot of the entrepreneur, talent in the world? In order to do that the Conservative manifesto is also promising that we will ensure that tax is absolutely nothing at all or minimum to people who want to start their own businesses. On the other hand, we will incentivize people who want to after university go into a start-up and make sure that they’re not having to rethink about their dreams, because of tax paying.

Craig O’Donnell (Liberal Democrats): So I’m very proud of that fact in coalition – you know there were good things, bad things. We were able to take the lowest pay back tax. That affected me, I was working in retail, I was working at Build-a-Bear and basically that helped, that helped me get by, in the month when I was struggling, I was like, Thank God it came through. We brought that policy and it was in our manifesto and I was very proud of that.

Next we go on in terms of our policy, in terms of taxes, we will be basically putting in millions into tackling tax avoidance by giving HRC more money, so we can actually enforce it. In terms of benefits. I’ll give an example of my friend is a carer, and if he is a full time carer, I believe he decided to do a part time job, he would be penalised for actually working. So he would lose money from his carer money coming in because he works. So there will be no, no real gain from actual working. So if there was a way that it actually, basically, if you work and you’re a carer that would help them, I will be very supportive. 

Natalia Kubica (Green): “So I’m going to start by saying that it’s a really common misconception that the Green Party policies are really expensive and can only be paid for by increasing taxes on the poor. I have the manifesto right here, and there’s actually a table right at the end, explaining exactly how we’re going to fund all of our policies and none of that includes increasing taxes for the poor. We actually believe that we should increase Universal Credit by £40 per week. We should scrap the two child benefit cap, the only reason that a cap like that should exist is if the government believes that poor people shouldn’t have children. So we would scrap that immediately. There are too many children going to school on an empty stomach, that’s despicable in one of the richest countries in the world.

“Green party would increase carer’s allowance by 10% a week and I am really proud that I was a co-proposer of the policy to the Green party conference to put that in our manifesto. So that’s another thing we will be focusing on. The vast majority of the money that we pay for our policies is by taxing the richest 1% the billionaires and the multi millionaires. We are a party that stands for the poor and we believe that the richest in our country should invest in our society. 

“One more thing I’d like to say, there has been a 17% increase in homelessness in Ealing in the last year and there are over 3800 children in Ealing that are now in temporary accommodation. That is once again, despicable, we are one of the richest countries in the world. We should not have a single child that’s homeless and hungry.”


Sameh Habeeb’s (Workers GB): “When it comes to tax our party will be putting more tax onto the rich, and these 5% of the top rich. In addition to this normal tax and pensioner tax is disgusting you cannot just work most of your life and then your pension will be taxed, it’s awful value. The Labour party, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems, for me are the same. The Labour party’s Keir Starmer did more than 13 changes to major policies [from the previous manifesto] from the £28 million green spending, to the tax, he cannot be trusted. 

“I challenge the Labour candidate to come with an answer – how are they going to spend on the economy? Because they are going to be borrowing more again and again, and in 2010, the Conservatives came in and the country was almost bankrupt from the amount of debt that the Labour party bought us in and they continue this. Now they have planned major policies but there’s no funding. They’re not even talking about investing in this now. They’ll be borrowing more and putting our economy in jeopardy. So on the Universal Credit, you know, tax, we will have a policy. There’s more than 40%, 39-49% of children in Ealing are below the poverty line, we should scrapping the two child benefit cap. This is an awful policy that should stop immediately.” 

Leon Harris’ (Reform): “So we will start paying income tax at the minute as soon as we start earning 12,000 a year. If I turn around to you and say right, if we raise that to 20,000 pounds a year, and it keeps 1500 pounds in your pocket, everyone of you every year, how would you feel about that? Does that solve a lot of problems or what? If you have a look at income tax, the people that actually own businesses, if your turnover was raised at 150,000 pounds a year before you start paying tax. That would make things a lot easier, wouldn’t it? You’d actually be able to invest more into the business, make it bigger, stronger and actually build something. At the same time, the people that are working for you, they’re paying tax until they’re earning 20,000 per year. The same as pensioners. Pensioners start paying tax at about 12 and a half thousand pounds. This is their pension. You know, they’ve already paid tax on money and put it into the pension pot and are expecting something back, right? But they’re not, they’re getting taxed again. So what happens if we raise that to 20,000 pounds a year that’s another £1,500 in your pocket too. 

“The way to get the economy going again is if we all have more money in our pockets, where we are all spending it in the shops rather than paying it all on tax and all these other stupid fees. You know, somebody mentioned earlier about going down to the tip that you have to make an appointment, what’s that all about? Just all of it. The only way to get the economy going again is by people spending. The only way people are going to spend is if they’ve got the money in their pocket in the first place, instead of paying it on stupid taxes. That’s it.”

Foreign Policy Question: Will you recognise Palestine as a state? Can we trust career politicians on the issue of Gaza, which one of you will say ‘Free Palestine’ and what will you do to end the genocide?

Natalia Kubica (Green): “Personally, I have been campaigning for Palestine for years. The Green Party has been campaigning for Palestine for years. But I think it’s important to recognise how much power the UK has in this situation. We can’t end the war crimes, we can’t end the violence but what we can do is we have a lot of power on the global stage, we can condemn Israel, we can condemn the violence. We can support the International Court of Justice in investigating and prosecuting war crimes and genocide. Absolutely we should end all arms sales and all kinds of military trade towards Israel, because at the moment, the UK is complicit in what is happening and that is shameful, that’s disgusting. 

“There was a question about Palestinians in education and science, and at my university there has been a big movement in favour of that and we’ve actually campaigned for scholarships specifically for Palestinians. Because absolutely, we need more representation. We should recognise the state of Palestine. Absolutely. We should end all the war crimes, we should release all the hostages. Yeah, I am going to end just by repeating something that I have been saying for years, and the Green party has been saying for years, and that’s free Palestine.”

Sameh Habeeb’s (Workers GB): “In terms of recognition of the Palestinian state, definitely, the Workers Party is for the Palestinian state with the Palestinian refugees to be returned. That’s a question, I hope the Labour candidate can answer on that, would he agree that the Palestinian refugees of 1948 be returned to Palestine? The other thing is the recognition of a Palestinian state, as I said, neither of the parties, with the Green being an exception, would say yes, but even the new party position of the Labour Party and you see will see the Labour party candidate in a bit will be very apprehensive to say that we are going to recognise the Palestinian state.”

“That’s what Keir Starmer said a few weeks ago, but he put just one line there through a peace process agreement and that’s a problem with our politics here. Our foreign policy is attached to Israel and DC, Washington DC. So David Cameron said we’re gonna recognise a Palestinian state two days after Secretary Blinken announced this and then we saw some European countries announcing this position and then the Labour Party said, oh, yeah, we might be doing this. And they started speaking about it because of the fear of losing votes of the Muslims across the country. I think they’re losing and they’re going to lose it badly and not only Muslims but also non Muslims. They’re going to vote against you James and the Labour Party and you can lose thousands of votes because of Palestine because you don’t have a principled position on Palestine. The genocide is an example. You did not support the ceasefire. I know you are sick of this question in the Commons. Even your canvasses, they are bragging about the genocide in Palestine. They sit and did nothing except take pictures here and there supporting you, canvassing for you and speaking nothing on Palestine.

“So on the genocide, we know his position and Labour’s position. The Conservatives we cannot trust. Both of the parties agree on supporting Israel with military aid instead of putting the money into the NHS, this has gone to Israel. We should be blunt in condemning the Israeli genocide and the reckless Israeli behaviour. We should have the courage as political parties, representatives to stand for humanity and to denounce what is happening. As I said, neither of the parties here will be bold enough to denounce what’s going on.”

Leon Harris’ (Reform): “I believe that the whole Israel Palestine issue needs to stop. Death needs to stop. The killing needs to stop. All of it needs to stop. We need to stop funding one side against the other side. Okay, I mean, it’s like if you go back in history and see where this all started. Basically what we’re doing is we’re funding one side of the genocide. It needs to stop. The solution is for them to actually sit down and talk this out and stop the killing and the sooner we stop funding it along with America, you know, it’s okay to those turning around and saying ‘look this has nothing to do with us’, but at the same time, we’re funding it. Yeah, it’s all wrong. It needs to stop. We need to sort this out. And we need to sit down and stop the killing.”

James Murray (Labour): “My immediate priority. I’m sure we’d all agree on this. 100% has to be for the war to stop, to stop now. With immediate ceasefire with the release of all hostages, and with a huge surge of aid to getting into Gaza. I’ve been having a number of meetings with medical aid for Palestinians over recent months about the severe difficulty that they’ve been facing, getting aid into Gaza and then distributed within Gaza. And I’ve been asking some of those reasons, some of those difficulties in Parliament, with government ministers to make sure that the UK Government is doing everything it possibly can to get that much needed, desperately needed aid into Gaza and distributed within Gaza. 

“I think they’re also really important questions and actually points of difference between us and the Conservatives around respect for international institutions. When the ICJ has come out with its interim ruling earlier in January and subsequent ruling about Rafah, we said that Israel must follow the rulings of the ICJ. The government, I don’t think took that position exactly. With the ICC or recently, we said that the audits and so on in the ICC must be respected. But that’s something which the current government has questioned. But I think that you know, once we have a ceasefire, that is lasting,  hostages released, aid in, accountability. Having a two state solution is the way to get a lasting peace. We must recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel. It’s part of a two state solution. And I think it’s really important to say that the right for a Palestinian state is in equal right for Palestinian people, it’s not going to be given to a neighbour, it will be a sovereign decision for the UK Government to take that no other country should have a veto over. But having that recognition of Palestine as a viable state, alongside the State of Israel, as part of a two state solution is the way to get a lasting peace.”

Maria Khan (Conservative): “This question is very personal to me. As I said in the beginning, my full name is Maria Khan. So you probably can tell from my name, I’m Muslim. So the issue impacts me on a personal level, because I can see what’s happening. Also, what’s equally important for all of us to keep in mind, that all of us sitting right here are standing for the position of office, are standing for a leadership role. And in a leadership role, you have to take into account everything that is happening. You have to be neutral, you cannot be biassed on one side over another. Now on one hand, where the UK under Conservative government has actually helped get more aid into Gaza when they needed to do. We were one of the first countries to work with the UN to ensure that aid got into Gaza.

“I would stand by what I said. The UK was one of the first countries that actually helped provide aid to Gaza when the rest of the world didn’t and we will continue to do that because on humanitarian grounds that’s very important, but equally we must also understand that what Hamas did, which is a terrorist organisation, the Hamas does not represent the Muslims of Palestine. If these people in the room feel that Hamas is representing the Muslims and the Palestinians then you’re absolutely wrong. What they did by holding innocent people hostages, young children, females. We as the Conservative party and I will personally as well be absolutely in support of a two state solution to bring a finite end to this. There have been killings on both sides and that has been absolutely wrong. We must protect the people on both sides and ensure that they can’t win.”

Craig O’Donnell (Liberal Democrats): “So, first of all, there has to be a ceasefire first of all. There definitely needs to be the return of the hostages, which is why this war is happening. Then we have of course a recognition of Palestine. Our party is for that, we have the only Palestinian descendant MP, Layla Moran. Our party has called on no more arms to Israel. So the fact is, we need a two state solution and the real point is that the right wing government of Netanyahu and Hamas, they can’t work together. We need a two state solution, but they’re both as bad as each other.”

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