Local Candidates Hold 'Election Debate' In Chiswick

Sitting MP Mary Macleod and Labour hopeful Ruth Cadbury discuss airport, economy and schools


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A Question and Answer discussion with the two main candidates for the Brentford/Isleworth seat, sitting MP Mary Macleod and Labour Party parliamentary hopeful Ruth Cadbury, was held in the Tabard Theatre last night (March 9). The evening was hosted by BBC Radio 4 'Today' show presenter Sarah Montague, and organised by The Chiswick Calendar

Pic- Torin Douglas

Sitting MP Mary Macleod admitted she had a fight on her hands to retain the seat she won with a 2,000 majority in 2010 but said she was looking forward to the election and every vote would count.

Ruth Cadbury, a long-time councillor for Brentford, was asked what she would do if she were elected MP in May. She replied she would follow Labour policies on the NHS, cost of living and the housing crisis. She would seek to stop the closure of the A & E at Charing Cross Hospital - which attracted more signatures on her party petitions than any other issue. Mary Macleod retorted that there was a great deal of 'scaremongering' in relation to the hospital and we should be proud of the NHS.

On the question of education, Mary Macleod said that if elected for a second term she would fight for teachers in Hounslow to be paid equal wages to those in other areas such as Ealing. She was delighted to see that efforts to create more schools places were underway with two new schools announced for the borough, an issue she had campaigned on. The two candidates differed on the issue of Free Schools - Ruth Cadbury said funds had been diverted for Academies in areas where they were not needed, while Mary Macleod said we should all be happy more school places were being created.

On the housing crisis, Ruth Cadbury criticised the coalition government for halving subsidies for social rented housng and reducing ' Right to Buy' funding. Mary Macleod agreed there should be more social housing and said Mayor Boris Johnson had announced a Housing Zone across the capital so that money would be spent on building homes that were affordable. The Labour-proposed 'Mansion Tax' on homes valued at over £2m (likely to affect Chiswick ) was also raised. Mary Macleod said this could affect elderly people and eventually be revised down to affect people on lower incomes. Ruth Cadbury said it was quite clear from the policy that people who were 'cash poor' such as elderly residents, would not be included in any Mansion tax.

Sarah Montague asked the candidates if they could ever see a scenario in which either would vote against their Party. Mary Macleod said the only issue she could ever see arising was in relation to a third runway at Heathrow. She had made her position clear to the party on that issue a long time ago, and there was currently a Commission investigating the issue of airport expansion.

Ruth Cadbury said that as a Quaker she would not vote to go to war under any circumstances. Mary Macleod said that she had joined the RAF so that she could learn more about defence, and had visited Camp Bastion in Afghanistan.

Asked how people on the doorstep viewed their respective leaders, Ruth Cadbury said that there was a wide variety of opinion on the present and past leadership. She had voted for Ed Milliband and she felt he was doing well. She did not think that her membership of the GMB would affect how she voted on issues.

Asked about David Cameron and his position on women politicians, Mary Macleod said the Prime Minister was accessible for discussion with backbenchers like herself and always ready to listen to their opinions.

Asked what she felt her greatest achievement was duirng her term in office , Mary Macleod said it was probably her work on schools and apprenticeships. Asked what issue , if she lost her seat at the election, she would be disappointed not to have the extra time to work on, she replied that the area of domestic violence against women still needed attention. She had become involved in this as Chiswick had opened the first Refuge for Women, and although there was extra funding for refuges from the government, the figures for violence against women in the UK were very high.

Ruth Cadbury agreed with Mary about the need to continue to help victims of domestic violence. She said she was most proud of her work tackling the government on Heathrow Airport.

Questions from the audiance were then taken and the discussion ranged from the Tideway Tunnel, the Piccadilly Line stop at Turnham Green, the costs of childcare for working mothers, the Mansion tax, Corporation 'tax dodgers', and jobs.

The discussion can be viewed on The Chiswick Calendar website. Another election discussion is being considered, possibly with other candidates.

March 10, 2015

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