Candidates use last chance to persuade voters

Tuesday, May 4th, saw one of the last opportunities for Lincoln’s prospective parliamentary candidates to clash in a bid to win votes ahead of polling day.

Hustings were held at New Life church in Lincoln from 7.30pm. Gillian Merron (Labour), Karl McCartney (Conservative), Reg Shore (Liberal Democrats), Gary Walker (Independent) and Ernest Coleman (English Democrats) were all in attendance.

The main three Lincoln PPCs were in attendance at the hustings

The candidates discussed topics as broad as improvements for local schools, the gap between the rich and the poor and how to deal with student debt.

Merron insisted that the election in Lincoln was only a two horse race between the Labour and the Conservatives. This prompted Reg Shore to say it was a “three horse race… Gillian is going down. She is facing this election against a backdrop of a recession, of MP’s expenses, of Iraq – and does she expect that vote to suddenly shoot up?”

Whereas Gary Walker, the independent candidate for Lincoln, said: “Don’t vote for any of the three horses, vote for a human being.”

Ernest Coleman gave the audience the most amusement throughout the night, as he publically promised “you will not get an English Democrat government this time.”

The candidates were asked about the role of Christianity and its contribution to society, especially with regards to the efforts of carers.

Ernest Coleman said in response to this: “I’m a Christian, and it is a Christian ethos to give aid and assistance, and one we should encourage.”

Gary Walker, who boasted of his credentials as a former NHS trust boss, said: “The health service would fail if they didn’t have people who were caring for other people and other patients… those people who are providing support to the community and those who are unwell or out of luck should not suffer any further.”

Gillian Merron said: “I want to give the reassurance that faith based organisations can continue to recruit according to their faith.”

Reg Shore was keen to point out that there are many “superb faith charities” and said that without them “I don’t think our government would cope, because [volunteers] do actually help some of the most difficult and challenging situations in society.”

Karl McCartney, who was brought up as a strict Methodist, said: “I don’t believe you should be discriminated against for your faith. The voluntary sector agree that the government can do and should do more. Governments shouldn’t replace what you do and what the fellow volunteers do because I think you do it better than any government could.”

Listen to the hustings in full here:

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