General Election 2019: Conservative candidate a 'no show' left leaning parties battle it out at Brent Central hustings
PUBLISHED: 14:32 09 December 2019 | UPDATED: 16:21 09 December 2019
Ending austerity emerged as a major topic for voters at a Brent Central hustings - but the Conservative candidate failed to show up to defend his party's record.
With the general election just days away, Brent Trades Union hosted a hustings, chaired by Mary Adossides, at the New Testament Church of God in the High Road, Willesden on Saturday.
Labour's Dawn Butler was predicted to win once again by the Green Party's William Relton, while Liberal Democrat candidate Deborah Unger responded to heckles about her party's austerity record.
Notable by his absence was Conservative candidate David Brescia, accused by Ms Butler of "running scared".
One man in the crowd said: "I was going to vote Conservative but seeing as he's not bothered to show up, I'll swing my vote."
Topics requested by attendees included climate change and air pollution, universal credit payments, crime, racism and the NHS and not one on Brexit, the leading issue nationally.
Dawn Butler promised her party would scrap Universal Credit payments altogether, with Ms Unger saying the assessment would be brought "in house" with "no more box ticking that says you got here so you can got to work. That's cruel and inhuman".
Mr Relton meanwhile promised more money so go to local councils for funding for disabled constituents.
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"We were the only party in 2017 to address mental health in the country," he said.
All three parties promised extra money for the NHS.
Both Labour and Green Party candidates pledged to scrap tuition fees and bring back maintenance grants but, to heckles from the crowd, Ms Unger said: "We're not going to cancel university fees but I will mention it was the Labour government who brought in student fees in the first place."
Summarising, Mr Relton said: "We have to have a different electoral system. First past the post - it's out of date, unfair, it's undemocratic."
He added: "If we don't get 5pc of the vote in Brent Council that money is lost and that's money that we could use for more leaflets, more campaigning, more fighting for a better society. Please do think about voting Green."
Ms Unger said: "The Liberal Democrat party is the party of remain. We believe and always believe we have to stay in the European Union [...]. It will make us a more prosperous and safer society. You'll have the proverbial brighter future."
She urged the "very, very pro-Corbyn crowd" to "reflect on the leadership qualities of Jeremy Corbyn" which led to a volley of jeers and heckles.
To whoops of support, Dawn Butler said: "Denigrating the leader is no way to win an election. You cannot bully me, you can try to bully my leader but we are going to change this country on a manifesto of hope."
David Brescia has been approached for comment.