Croydon North candidates clash over constituency issues at hustings

Croydon North’s candidates butted heads on a range of issues at the constituency’s hustings on Wednesday evening.

Current Labour MP Steve Reed was joined by Conservative candidate Samuel Kasumu, UKIP candidate Michael Swadling, Green candidate Peter Underwood and Lib Dem candidate John Pindar at the St John the Evangelist Church in Upper Norwood.

After introducing themselves, the candidates gave their views on the first past the post system.

Reed and Kasumu agreed that changing the electoral system would not be enough to involve people in politics and Kasumu took the opportunity to highlight May’s work in improving inclusively in the Conservative Party.

Lib Dem Pindar called Britain a “democracy of the estate agency” where the best chance to affect the election is to move house to an area where there is a marginal seat.

Underwood also criticised first past the post, stating a two party system does not reflect a country made up of many more parties.

On Brexit, Kasumu denied Corbyn’s capacity to negotiate a deal and claimed that Reed’s resignation from the Shadow Cabinet reflected his own reservations about Corbyn’s ability as a leader.

In response, Reed bashed both Theresa May’s manifesto pledge inconsistencies as proof of weak negotiation credentials and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, a man he claimed is ‘viewed as a clown by many of our allies’.

Reed later shrugged off questions about his lack of belief in Corbyn, insisting that he fully supports the opposition leader and that ‘all parties have disputes from time to time’.

While Swadling called for a full Brexit in line with the people’s wishes, Pindar criticised lies told by the Leave campaign.

Underwood ridiculed the idea of using secret information to achieve a good deal for Britain as ‘everybody in the EU already knows Britain’s trade information’.

When asked about housing, all candidates spoke of the need for more social housing to be built.

Kasumu defended the right to buy policy, something Underwood called to be replaced by a ‘right to sell’ policy, and said that rather than being a Tory problem, a lack of social housing is an issue that has gone on for generations.

On social care and the NHS, Kasumu acknowledged that many immigrants are currently propping up the system due to low pay, but was adamant that there is not a limitless budget.

When asked by the chair why the Conservative manifesto social care policy was ‘such a disaster’, Kasumu insisted that the policy was not a rush-job but that problems arose due to not publicising consultations with non-Tories.

Reed slammed what he called the ‘pernicious dementia tax’ and Underwood criticised the idea that one of the richest countries in the world cannot afford to look after its people.

Swadling drew some sighs of disbelief after suggesting that the Green Party is systematically anti-Semitic, as well as when he denied that there was significant evidence of a global temperature increase.

Reed countered that he wished to put money from clean energy into the community and that the idea of Trump withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement was ‘frightening’.

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