The organisers of Candi-dating wanted people to take part in a blind date-style question and answer session without knowing which parties the EU Election candidates represented.
I didn’t know how realistic it was to expect a prospective or existing Member of the European Parliament to know much about a specific area like Hackney but I didn’t have anything else I wanted to ask them about.
In general I asked what they did know, what they thought it was important to know, and how to find things out. Except I didn’t ask them all the same questions - so it might be unfair to compare their responses.
Number 4 said he represented a small party. He seemed nice enough but wasn’t very keen on talking about Hackney – he had been to school in Stamford Hill.
After telling me he would represent the whole of London and that he stood for joining the Euro and strengthening passport-free arrangements he said: “I don’t want to be difficult, obviously there are a range of economic circumstances across London. When you have big constituencies across the EU it is not possible (to have specific knowledge). If you look at the East Midlands for instance, or the whole of London, I’m not sure even Hackney can be described as one economic area. It is very varied.
“To attempt to break it down to a lower level than that would be inappropriate but it would be right for an MP for Hackney or Greenwich to be able to that but it would be quite different at an EU level.
“I’m not from a big party. I’m representing a set of views that should be of interest to people in London as a whole. If I get elected I will work with local MPs and local groups. It would be a bit optimistic for a small party to (have the level of knowledge about a particular local area)
Asked whether he thought the VAT register was a good indicator of the level of entrepreneurialism in Hackney – previous story - he said: “The VAT list would be a good proxy, I can’t see how it wouldn’t be and it is very significant and worrying (that it is diminishing).
Asked how bad he thought the economic situation would get he said: “David Blanchflower said he thought there would be substantial job losses for the rest of the year. I can’t see this recession coming quickly to an end. Even when it slows down it will carry on for a long time and I think Hackney is going to be affected by that as everywhere else is.
In terms of effects on racially mixed areas, he said that the electorate was upset with conventional political parties: “Part of the resentment that has been lavished on MPs (over their expenses)… is to do with a society that is profoundly worried about its economic future. I think the electorate wanted to be deceived. (They wanted to think that their politicians could rescue them from this problem and the expenses scandal took that optimism away from them).
“Another side is the potential for the BNP who will be claiming that foreigners are responsible for the economic problems. There is a potentially volatile situation here that might find its expression in this election.”