Blog commentary by Sophia Harrison: The Jubilee Community Centre in East Grinstead was clearly the place to be on Wednesday evening. It saw the first hustings meeting of the Mid Sussex Parliamentary Candidates and if anyone was in any doubt that interest in politics is on the out, then the turnout of nearly 200 residents and more than 20,000 listeners tuning in to Meridian 107 FM, clearly put that myth to bed. With a professional set up provided by the radio station, it was one worthy of any national radio outlet.
Out of office hours, Guy and I joined Meridian station MD Peter Monnery to help the radio station with the live two-hour transmission. In addition to the live broadcast, the station’s energetic team was busy interviewing the public, taking photos and posting social media updates.
Seven candidates were in attendance and chaired by Simon Elliott, Conservative - Nicholas Soames, Green - Miranda Diboll, Independent - Beki Adam Independent, Labour - Greg Mountain, Liberal Democrat - Daisy Cooper, UKIP - Toby Brothers, and The Monster Raving Loony Party – Baron von Thunderclap.
Each candidate was given two minutes to set out their case and this was followed by six questions provided by the audience given in advance. These questions covered a range of issues including: housing, immigration, the situation in Syria and the UK’s response, climate change, fracking, a question on faith and the vision for the future of the British Isles.
The evening was hugely engaging. What is worthy of overall note is how the session was conducted. The audience was positively engaged and all of the candidates were respectful of one another. Meridian 107’s broadcast ensured the debate reached the broadest possible audience in the broader community - and the station will be broadcasting a follow-up in the weeks ahead that will capture people’s reaction to the evening.