A hustings hosted by Extinction Rebellion (XR) Lewisham on Monday night was interrupted by an independent candidate playing reggae on the speaker system and shouting that crime and racism are more urgent issues than climate change.
In response to a question on the demolition of structurally sound housing, retrofitting, and the use of greenspace in Lewisham, the independent candidate, Elder Roger N M Mighton, asked: “Is this what you stop the traffic for in Westminster? To ask us stupid questions about this?”
Mighton, a former London Underground employee, made it clear that his concerns for the borough were gun crime, knife crime, and drug dealing, particularly among people of colour, and not the climate emergency.
Chair of the event and member of XR Lewisham, John Hamilton, intervened by turning off the speaker and asking Mighton to return to his seat. After Mighton refused, Hamilton polled the audience; “Would you like Roger to continue like this or would you like to hear the other candidates?”
The audience responded overwhelmingly, “Hear the other candidates!” Mighton accused the audience of racism before storming off stage then returning to his seat.
Mighton was among the twelve candidates attending the hustings, with candidates present from all three constituencies across the borough. Tory and Brexit Party candidates were notably absent.
Audience members and candidates commented on their absence, saying there was no need for Conservative representation as Lewisham’s three constituencies are considered safe Labour territory.
Of the three Labour candidates, only Vicky Foxcroft of Lewisham-Deptford was present. Andrea Carey Fuller, Green Party candidate in Lewisham-Deptford, used this point as an opportunity to call for electoral reform.
Fuller said: “If you look at all of the tactical voting sites, they say, ‘vote Labour.’ I say, people vote Green because it’s safe to vote Green. Vicky [Foxcroft] will probably get in anyway because of the system we have, but if we had proportional representation, every Green vote would count.”
This was the only hustings event to be held where constituents could hear from Lewisham-Deptford and Lewisham East candidates; a hustings for Lewisham West and Penge will take place this evening at Christ Central Church in Penge, at 7:30pm.