The candidates for the May 3rd Election crossed swords, presented their policies as well as different styles of charisma at an election debate hosted by the Croydon Advertiser.
The invitation to Croydon voters to meet their local candidates and pose the questions to the London Assembly hopefuls gave the event an edge
and dimension not usually present at meetings controlled by media professionals.
Many of those who attended expressed their interest in finding out about the candidates as individuals, and their plans to connect with the local community – without emphasis on party politics. This made the debate lively.
There are five candidates hoping to represent Croydon and Sutton in the Greater London Authority (GLA). The Advertiser’s event promoted as the Croydon Decides debate (April 23 2012) was strongly attended and highly charged with passionate exchanges between politicians and voters.
Party rivalry was on show in the sharp exchanges between incumbent Steve O’Connell who put the case for reinstating the current Mayor Boris Johnson. He was frequently rebutted by Croydon’s Louisa Woodley battling for the Labour mayoral candidate, Ken Livingstone .
Louisa Woodley was vocal about how Labour’s ambitions would have a wider reach beyond the local level, and in effect bring about a transformation of London’s governance.
The Liberal Democrat candidate, Abigail Lock emphasised her community focus with these final words at the debate.
UKIP’s hopeful Winston McKenzie was described as channelling “his inner Martin Luther King” by one spectator. In the final summary of his campaign objectives at the debate the UKIP candidate said:
Green Party candidate Gordon Ross put forward the Green Party’s case for Croydon and Sutton.
Finally, the Conservative incumbent Steve O’Connell made this direct request to the Croydon electorate.
The debate was lively and well received by the voters for whose benefit it was held.
These Croydon residents and voters had this to say about how well the debate had prepared them for the decision they have to make on Thursday 3 May:
The election event is a demonstration of the role and significance of local newspapers such as the Croydon Advertiser in promoting analysis, coverage, understanding and debate in local politics and democracy.
In their series of interviews with Mayoral candidates, the Advertiser reported that the Labour candidate Ken Livingstone ‘walked out’. The event was highlighted by the country’s specialist magazine for journalism Press Gazette.
East London Lines Election coverage