Diane Abbott, Labour incumbent in Hackney North was strongly criticised last night for being absent from a climate hustings event held in the borough.
Parliamentary constituency candidates were quizzed on their approaches for tackling the climate emergency at Extinction Rebellion Hackney’s “climate hustings” last night.
Abbott, who has was been the MP for the constituency since 1987 and shadow home secretary, told organisers of the Extinction Rebellion Hackney’s “climate hustings” that she was “called away by national obligations.” She later posted a picture on Twitter of her out campaigning for Labour in the Cities of London and Westminster seat.
The remaining candidates for Hackney North and Stoke Newington gathered at the Mildmay club to answer questions on their climate policies chaired by the Huffpost’s Ramzy Alwakeel.
Mick Burke, who works with Abbott and replaced her at the event, said that the reason to support Abbott was because only Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn could become Prime Minister, and that the latter was more likely to “champion the environment.”
The audience responded with shouts of “lies” and “why,” whilst Green Party candidate Alex Armitage argued that “climate is not in Labour’s DNA.” One audience member asked the panel whether a vote for Abbot was a “wasted vote”.
Abbott’s absence remained a talking point throughout; Armitage argued that it was representative of a “democratic deficit,” whilst Conservative Ben Obese-Jecty argued it was an example of how politicians are escaping public scrutiny.
Alice Bennett, 22, a software engineer in Stoke Newington, told Eastlondonlines: “I am very upset I didn’t get to hear Diane, which was one of the major reasons I came here – to challenge one of her major policies. She is not accountable. She doesn’t need to come here and she doesn’t need to listen to her voters.”
Also missing was former Liberal Democrats candidate, Ben Mathis, who was “decommissioned” from the Lib-Dems following the Eastlondonlines revelation of offensive tweets on his personal Twitter account.
Tiranth Amarasinghe, spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion Hackney, said: “We hope that [attendees] come away with a better understanding of how potential MPs will work to address the climate crisis.
“We want voters to have climate change at the forefront of their minds when casting their ballots. The climate and ecological emergency is the defining issue of our time. It should be the main focus of all policy discussion going forward.”
Extinction Rebellion Hackney are hosting another ‘Climate Question Time’ tomorrow night, to quiz prospective parliamentary candidates from Hackney South and Shoreditch.