Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Debate tomorrow: Shaun Bailey "empty chaired"!!

A debate will happen on wednesday night featuring every main parliamentary candidate fighting for our votes in Shepherd's Bush & Hammersmith - except for Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey.

As I reported here Bailey refused to take part in the debate organised by the Palestine Solidarity Forum, with his spokesman telling this blog that he had: "..no interest in attending 'debates' organised by biased organisations whose very existence is to promote one view".

That comment clearly caused great offence to the event organisers, who'se spokesperson Paul Hughes-Smith said to this blog that:

"Our meeting on April 7th 'Palestine Is Still The Issue' at Rivercourt Methodist Church is in fact a cross-party forum. The Palestine Solidarity Campaign is entirely non-party political and we have pressed Shaun Bailey to attend on that basis. He has now sadly declined though the invitation remains open and he has agreed to a private meeting at a later date to discuss the issue".

"Palestine has been at the forefront of the news in the last few weeks and it seems therefore perfectly reasonable to expect prospective party candidates to debate something that affects us all in the run up to an election. I would like to know what organization is 'impartial', everyone has some sort of an agenda but we are not expecting candidates to endorse everything or indeed anything we are advocating, we merely want people to stop and think about the issue and give an opinion. Prospective candidates should realize that being an MP does not just mean dealing with local issues, important though they undoubtedly are, but forming a whole view about how this country should behave as part of the international community".

At the time I therefore concluded that this debate at least was dead in the water - but it seems not. I understand that the other candidates have agreed to take part anyway and sources tell me that Bailey may even be represented by a token empty chair. He is apparently welcome to take his place in said chair at any point.

I'll be going along and will report back. It's yet again a last minute debate so that means many of you won't be able to come, a fact which you have complained about quite understandably before. For me it means quite possibly missing a Champions League game - how much dedication is that.

It will be intriguing however to see how it goes and whether Bailey has a last minute change of heart and decides to come along. He's surely in a no-win situation now, if he agrees to go along he's accused of a u-turn - and if he stays away he can't defend himself at the meeting.

The debate will take place at Rivercourt Methodist Church, King Street, Hammersmith, W6 9JT at 7pm. It's 5 mins walk from Ravenscourt Park tube and entry is free.
22.00 UPDATE: Shaun Bailey's spokesperson has been in touch to confirm that he will not be taking part: "Shaun believes that because the Israeli-Palestinian conflict involves two sides, it is not fair to call this event a 'debate' without having both sides present. Shaun appreciates the invitation however he will not be changing his decision."

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