General Election: Why Animal Welfare candidate was barred from Bethnal Green and Bow hustings panel
PUBLISHED: 07:00 09 December 2019 | UPDATED: 11:54 10 December 2019
One of the six parliamentary candidates is missing from this panel line-up at a constituency hustings for Bethnal Green and Bow.
Animal Welfare activists have been in uproar over their General Election candidate being barred from the panel that included all five rival party candidates.
Vanessa Hudson had to make do with a seat in the front row and not take part in the questions-and answers session in the hustings staged at the Metropolitan University's Whitechapel campus.
Only parties allowed on the panel were those that had an impact at the 2017 general election and the EU election earlier this year.
"It's grossly unfair," Vanessa told the East London Advertiser at the meeting. "Times have changed. The last general election was two years ago.
"We got 25,000 votes in the 2019 EU elections and came eighth in London and now have our first local councillor.
"We've earned that place on the panel—that's the point of democracy."
The other parties, Labour, Lib Dem, Green, Conservative and Brexit, acknowledged the "climate emergency", but there were more immediate issues for them—Brexit just around the corner, threats to the NHS, taxation and jumping Tower Hamlets' housing queue.
"Prioritising these other issues is like arranging the deckchairs when the Titanic is sinking," Vanessa tells you.
"Climate change is the only game in town, but it has taken an hour before anyone from the other parties paid lip service to it. That's not good enough."
One audience member voiced surprise that Vanessa's party wasn't allowed on the panel.
But the feisty candidate, a motivated mother from Bethnal Green, wasn't deterred. She was eventually allowed two minutes from her front-row seat.
"Obesity is a huge problem in Tower Hamlets," she told the university audience. "The solution is to stop feeding our children rubbish.
"Schools are feeding the kids cheap factory-farmed meat that has no nutritional value and chicken that has one of the most miserable lives possible of any animal."
But Labour-run Tower Hamlets Council encourages schools to serve healthy meals and aims to stop fast-food outlets opening close to schools. There are, however, 14 fried chicken shops close to schools in the East End.
Bethnal Green and Bow
General Election candidates
Thursday, December 12:
(alphabetical order of surnames)
Mohammad Ali (Green)
Rushanara Ali (Lab)
David Axe (Brexit)
Joshua Babarinde (Lib Dem)
Vanessa Hudson (Animal Welfare)
Nicholas Strovold (Con).