Candidate says election ‘too soon’ but is needed

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Wednesday 4th December 2019 3:00 pm

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LIKE it or lump it, Britain needed another General Election.

That was opinion of Conservative hopeful Damian Hinds speaking during a public meeting in Petersfield on Monday.

Mr Hinds, who is hoping to retain his East Hampshire seat, answered questions about affordable housing, referendums and trade deals during the well-attended event in Festival Hall.

He began by saying the general election was “too soon” for most people’s liking before insisting the move was necessary.

The politician said: “We did need, I’m afraid, to have an election.

“We reached the point where Parliament wasn’t working, not only on Brexit, but actually on everything.

“There comes a point where, as a government, if you haven’t got a working majority many things you just can’t do.”

He also called climate change the “defining matter’ of our age and hopes Britain will become a leader in the fight against it.

Although the audience in the Rose Room was largely partisan there were some non-Tories in the crowd with Mr Hinds facing awkward questions about his party’s “right wing” stance and the legacy of austerity.

Another made a nod to the “elephant in the room” by asking whether current Prime Minister Boris Johnson is fit for purpose.

“Yes, I do support the Prime Minister and I think he has a strong work record,” said Mr Hinds with both the question and answer earning a round of applause.

Mr Hinds also defended his party’s deadline for getting a Brexit trade deal before finding himself on the back foot over the rise of food banks and claims austerity has killed 130,000 people, a figure he immediately disputed.

“You hear stories of nurses having to use foodbanks, parents who are both in work but are really, really struggling,” asked an audience member.

“I don’t want anyone to use foodbanks and the most important thing for stability and wellbeing is having a job,” said Mr Hinds in response

He also claimed there wasn’t a link between food bank usage and the rise in zero hour contracts, saying just three per cent of the population had zero hour contracts.

Another resident asked: “You say the Labour party is unrecognisable to the past and has been pulled to the left.

“There are some people who feel the Conservative party has been pushed by the European Research Group (ERG) and pulled by the Brexit Party and has moved to the right – you’re standing in it, so have you?”

He replied: “Different leaders have different styles but it has a heart that’s the same as it ever was. I don’t see a discernible shift.”

n All of the Parliamentary candidates for the East Hampshire seat have agreed to take part in a series of hustings events.

The first multi-candidate hustings will take place in Alton Community Centre from 7pm to 9pm next Wednesday, December 4.

The action will move to Petersfield the next day with the candidates appearing in St Peter’s Church in an event organised by Petersfield Area Churches Together.

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