With less than a fortnight to go before the country goes to the polls, candidates standing in the Leicester South constituency had the opportunity to impress and perhaps sway a few minds at a hustings organised by the Federation of Muslim Organisations.
Four of the six candidates standing attended the evening, where they were questioned about a whole range of issues effecting the Muslim community, from Islamophobia to faith schools. Gabby Garcia standing for the Green Party and Peter Stone from UKIP, were invited but did not attend.
Labour’s Jon Ashworth, who is defending a large majority, spoke of his engagement with the Muslim community since winning the seat in 2011, including his efforts at fasting during Ramadan and his opposition to restrictions on wearing the niqab in public.
Leon Hadji-Nikolaou, who’s standing for the Conservatives, spoke off the need for the various communities in the constituency to understand each other better. He also wants to improve people’s ability to get good jobs, so that they can have a decent living.
Andrew Walton, representing the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) said they would argue against cuts to pubic services. He also said TUSC would increase the minimum wage to £10 an hour. And he committed, if elected, to just take the average salary of Leicester South constituents.
Anita Prabhakar, Liberal Democrat, wants a better Leicester South, with more prosperity, better education, better roads and good housing. She did admit that taxes would have to be raised for high earners to pay for it all.
One member of the audience, who at sixteen is not old enough to vote, was impressed at being able to question the candidates so he could make up is own mind about who to vote for, when he can eventually cast his ballot. Although he says the voting age should be reduced to sixteen, arguing that the parties are willing to listen to and help pensioners because they’re the demographic most likely to vote.
The Federation of Muslim Organisations say holding such events is crucial to try to get the Muslim community to engage in the democratic process.
Full list of candidates for Leicester South:
Jon Ashworth – Labour
Andrew Walton – TUSC
Leon Hadji-Nikolaou – Conservative
Anita Prabhakar – Liberal Democrats
Gabby Garcia – Green Party
Peter Stone – UKIP