Tonight's affair was well attended, a full Church Hall, to hear the parliamentary candidates vying for our votes talk about the conflict between Palestinians and Israel.
A serious subject indeed - so it was as well we had the humorous, slightly bizarre and noisy accompaniment throughout the night of a local gym class with a screaming instructor urging his fitness fanatics to run and jump faster from a room upstairs!
I say parliamentary candidates but of course one was conspicuously absent, that of course being Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey who declined to take part.
And in a new departure I have some video footage for you from tonight - many of you have rightly complained about not getting notice to these events until the last minute so I thought I would use the power of blogging to bring the debates, or at least clips of them, to you!
Here's the chair of the meeting talking about how they tried to get Shaun to attend:
Labour's Andy Slaughter, himself just back from Gaza, talked passionately if a little analytically about the plight of the Palestinians. He doubted whether people fully understood just how bad the conditions that Palestinians were enduring in the occupied territories and decried the recent forging of British passports by Israeli security services in order to carry out an assassination in Dubai.
He said that broadly speaking both Labour and Lib Dems were in the right place on the issue but that he said there was a crisis in the Conservative Party, represented by the refusal of Shaun Bailey to even attend. He quoted what Bailey had said to me on this blog here, but argued it was imperative the Tories re-evaluated their position on the middle east.
Here he is:
LibDem Merlene Emerson spoke at length about her experience of local mediation and related that to the middle east. To be honest much of what she said wasn't that relevant beyond basic principles and in fairness to her she repeatedly said she wasn't an expert - well fair enough, you can't be on everything. What was a little odd though was that she decided to a bit of Britain bashing in her comments instead, recalling how she thought the British had divided people along racial lines in her native Singapore. Work that one out.
She very honestly however quoted the relevant Lib Dem policy motions on the issue in the past, including a call for an arms embargo on Israel that was made in the wake of the recent assault on Gaza which had left well over a thousand Palestinians dead, and its fair to say she got a warm reception.
Here she is:
Rollo Miles, the Green candidate, can speak for himself here. He believes that the "..Israelis are running some of the biggest concentration camps in the world."He was very direct, very to the point, and finished before I had the chance to pick up a pen! Some of the things he said about Israel would be in the national newspapers if he was a candidate from a more mainstream party, but credit to him for being as direct as he was. Possibly a little too much so.
Here he is:
All in all a good meeting. A shame it wasn't one with all the candidates present.