One of the country’s biggest trades unions, the PCS, has pulled out of sponsorship and organisation of a hustings debate planned to be held in Thornton Heath on Tuesday evening because half the candidates for the November 29 Croydon North by-election have been excluded.
The Public and Commercial Services Union represents nearly 3,000 civil servants working in Croydon, mainly for the Home Office and immigration service at Lunar House, Apollo House and other offices in the town centre. The PCS has often organised election debates in the borough, and was set to do so again for the Croydon North by-election.
But over the weekend, PCS members expressed disquiet over the union’s association with the co-organisers, the Croydon Sadvertiser, owned by a subsidiary of the Daily Mail.
And a disagreement with the Sadvertiser over its decision to refuse a platform to six of the 12 candidates forced the CPS’s hand and prompted its withdrawal from involvement.
Debating tonight will be Steve Reed, the 1/50 favourite to hold the seat for Labour, and Andy Stranack, of the Conservatives, plus Lee Jasper (Respect), Liberal Democrat Marisha Ray, UKIP’s Winston McKenzie and Shasha Khan (Green).
The Redhill-based newspaper – further removed from Croydon North even than the Tories’ Forestdale resident Stranack – opted to exclude half the candidates on grounds of space and time constraints. Those uninvited include the National Front’s Richard Edmonds, and Ben Stevenson, the Communist party candidate.
“When we hold election hustings we only exclude candidates as a matter of policy, for example we don’t invite the far right because we don’t want to give them a platform,” a PCS spokesman said.
“We obviously fully appreciate the Advertiser’s reasons for only inviting a selection, but on that basis we decided in the end that it wasn’t something we wanted to put our name to.”
And the election questionnaire from John Loony, of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party, can be read here.
Other questionnaires published so far:
- Click here for Marisha Ray, Liberal Democrats
- Click here for Andy Stranack, Conservative
- Click here for Steve Reed, Labour
- Inside Croydon: For comment and analysis about Croydon, from inside Croydon
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- UKIP candidate McKenzie fails to deliver his own brothers (insidecroydon.com)