Democracy, exclusion, ‘citizens’ and the “hustings” that wasn’t…

After the untimely death of Deyika Nzeribe, Manchester Green Party found another candidate for the Greater Mayoral elections happening tomorrow. That candidate, Will Patterson, was at a “hustings” last week at the Lowry.
Except he wasn’t on the stage with three other candidates for the post. Both he and the UKIP candidate had been told by the organisers that they could not put their views to potential voters by the organisers, an outfit called “Citizens UK”.
So the Greens turned up anyway, leafleted, and one of them – wearing a Greens t-shirt was inside.

Here is the Greens account of things-

(nice to see them finally using video, btw).

MCFly tweeted Citizens UK on Tuesday morning asking for a statement, but got no response. An email to the Manchester organiser in the evening was quickly responded to however

Hi Marc

The event wasn’t a public hustings event as other events. Please have a look at our statement here – http://www.citizensuk.org/what_is_a_citizens_uk_assembly

It’s a long and revealing-in-ways-it-doesn’t-intend statement, which everyone should read so they can make an informed judgement about what Citizens UK is, how it thinks, and whether it can play a useful role in helping citizens to engage in the withering democratic institutions of the British state.

As well as admitting they use betting sites like Ladbrokes and Paddypower to help them decide who will be performing on the stage, this may be of interest-

“Yesterday we took the decision to ask a ticket holder to leave the event. Staff at the event repeatedly described the nature of the event to the ticket holder, who vocalised that she didn’t agree with the format of the event. The lady then headed towards seats nearest the stage and those set aside for the leaders and politicians who would be taking part in the Assembly. This behaviour concerned our staff enough that she was asked to leave and when she resisted was ushered out of the theatre. More than 800 other people attended the event without incident…”

FWIW, my reply to the Manchester “community organiser” was as follows.

Thanks for the quick reply.

I will probably post something on the website with a link to the Green Party video, a portion of the statement and also a link to the the full statement.

For what it is worth, I think that is one of the most attenuated visions of “democracy” I have seen.

When I ran hustings at the local council level, I too faced difficulties in who to include, who to exclude (e.g. outright racists of the BNP ). A simple rule I came up with was that if a party was standing candidates in more than half of the 32 wards, then they could be ‘in’. Given that the Greens and UKIP have paid the 5000 pound to be in, and have MPs, I think their exclusion betrays a tin-ear.

It is of course up to you how you organise your events, which you say are not public hustings. However, I don’t think you have done your credibility any good at all here, and I don’t think you’re helping the cause of ‘democracy’ very much either.

For the sake of clarity: MCFly’s editor is not now and never has been a member of any political party.

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About manchesterclimatemonthly

Was print format from 2012 to 13. Now web only. All things climate and resilience in (Greater) Manchester.
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