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70 attend European hustings event in Kendal
2:28pm Tuesday 29th April 2014 in News
THREE prospective Euro MEPs held forth on their views on social justice and environment at a meeting last night.
The event was organised by the World Development Movement (WDM) and South Lakes Action on Climate Change - Towards Transition (SLACC-tt).
The two organisations brought a panel of prospective MEPs together with 70 people in the audience.
The candidates taking part were Peter Cranie of The Green Party, Julie Ward representing Labour and sitting MEP Chris Davies representing the Liberal Democrats.
Tory Euro candidate Kevin Beattie had been due to attend but excused himself on the basis that he was double booked, and UKIP declined to attend, said organisers.
Chris Davies for the Lib Dems noted that the event was the second hustings held in Kendal - something to be applauded as disappointingly few meetings of this kind are taking place in the North West region despite 5.2 million being eligible to vote.
Questions from the floor ranged from party policies on fossil fuel divestment, trade agreements to car dependency, voting age, biodiversity loss and human rights.
First up was a question about the Transatlantic trade agreement (TTIP), currently being negotiated between the European Commission and the US, which could give corporations control over health and environmental protection legislation in Europe.
Julie Ward for Labour highlighted the opportunity the public has to comment on the proposals, while Mr Davies (Lib Dem) emphasised the potential financial benefits of global trade agreements.
Peter Cranie for the Green Party agreed that trade is important but stressed the need for 'democratic oversight' - arguing that elected representatives, not corporations, should have the power to determine legislation.
The youngest member of the audience, Lana Willis, asked whether the voting age should be reduced to 16 to encourage more youth participation in politics.
All three candidates supported this, although Chris Davies was uncertain whether such a move would increase youth engagement in practice.
When asked where the responsibility for educating the public on 'climate change lies', Julie Ward for Labour suggested we had a collective responsibility.
Mr Davies noted that on most issues the scientific consensus was accepted but that when it comes to climate change it is not - arguing that the media has a responsibility to acknowledge the scientific consensus.
The Green Party candidate Mr Cranie agreed; adding that our 'consumerist culture', and the endless pursuit of economic growth on a finite planet must change.
Another question from the floor was about Kendal’s dependence on the car - despite 25 per cent of households not said to own one.
Chris Davies (Lib Dem) argued that transport design needs to be undertaken at a local level, not by the EU.
And Julie Ward for Labour argued for the relocalisation of services, with Peter Cranie for the Greens saying there should be a sustainable transport vision that prioritises pedestrians, bicycles, trains and buses over the private car.
He highlighted the Green Party’s proposals to renationalise the Railways and increase goods transport via canals and sea.
Audience members were encouraged to visit www.votematch.eu – an online election quiz that matches users to the political parties that best represent their views.
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