Lincoln MP candidates to join historic debate programme

For the first time in Lincolnshire, candidates for the Lincoln MP seat will take part in a political debate programme broadcast live online in video on The Lincolnite and Lincolnshire Echo websites as well as on FM radio and online on BBC Radio Lincolnshire.

Voters across the city will be able to join the live audience for The Lincoln Debate programme and put their questions to the candidates, while people at home or on their mobile devices can watch or listen and interact with the debate on social media.

The aim of this unique collaboration between The Lincolnite, Lincolnshire Echo, and BBC Radio Lincolnshire, is to engage more people in politics and to help them make an informed vote in the general elections.

The Lincoln Debate programme will take place on Monday, May 4th, 2015, from 7pm. It will be held at the Lincoln Performing Arts Centre (LPAC) in the city centre. The debate will be chaired by BBC Radio Lincolnshire presenter Melvyn Prior.

Some 250 people will be able to join the live representative audience on the evening. Register your interest at this link to be notified when applications to join the audience are open. Join the conversation using the #LincolnDebate hashtag on Twitter and Facebook.

The following prospective candidates for the Lincoln MP seat will be joining the historic debate simulcast:

  • Lucy Rigby (Labour)
  • Nick Smith (UKIP)
  • Ross Pepper (Lib-Dem)
  • Elaine Smith (TUSC)

Lincoln MP Karl McCartney (Conservative) has not accepted the invitation to join the debate. Karl McCartney is still welcome to join the programme should he reconsider closer to the date.

What the candidates said

Lincoln MP Karl McCartney. Photo: Steve Smailes/The Lincolnite

Lincoln MP Karl McCartney. Photo: Steve Smailes/The Lincolnite

Karl McCartney (Conservative) said: ”I have accepted some invitations already that request my attendance at political debates both before and during the upcoming general election campaign and have been satisfied by the assurances given by the organisers of these debates, that all, including independent and minor party, candidates will also be invited to attend, and that the chairman of the debates will be impartial, and that the venue is suitable.

“I have also declined a number of requests due to diary clashes and in some cases the view that the requesting organisations, or other factors beyond my control, do not present a level playing field to all the parliamentary candidates in Lincoln.

“The decision to put yourself forward as a parliamentary candidate is never taken lightly and those who make that decision should be given an equal opportunity to present their views during a general election. That is the basis of the fair democracy we live in.”

Lucy Rigby (Labour) said: “This historic debate is an excellent opportunity for Lincoln residents to decide who they want to represent their city as their next MP. I’m really glad that Lincoln’s media have come together to do this because debates are good for democracy – hopefully they will encourage more people to exercise their right to vote.

“That Karl McCartney doesn’t want to defend his very poor record doesn’t really surprise me. Lincoln needs to be represented by someone who will work hard and stand up for our city – over the last three years, I have been trying to show people that that’s exactly the kind of MP that I would be.”

Nick Smith (UKIP) said: “I’m very pleased to be involved in this spectacular event. I was at the LPAC in the 2005 election and I debated with Karl McCartney and Gillian Merron in the same venue and it was very good. In 2010 I was only able to do a husting at the Bentley Hotel for the FSB — and I look forward to this one, and speaking to the people. I want all candidates to be involved and heard, from all backgrounds. There should be no exclusions. I hope Karl McCartney changes his mind, because I very much enjoy debating with him, as I did in the 2005 and 2010 elections.”

Ross Pepper (Lib-Dem) said: “I was delighted to hear that a joint debate was going to be held by The Lincolnite, BBC Radio Lincolnshire and the Lincolnshire Echo to allow the residents of Lincoln to see, hear and interact with their candidates in the upcoming election in May. I accepted this invitation without hesitation to have this opportunity to have a full, open and democratic discussion with the other candidates on the issues affecting the city and the country, giving the residents of Lincoln a chance to hear all the points of view to make an educated choice.

“I am surprised that Mr McCartney has not accepted this invitation to have his voice heard in this debate, which is likely to be the largest debate of the campaign and will have the widest audience both in the hall, on radio, online and over social media. It seems Karl is following his party leader, Mr Cameron, in dodging the public TV and radio debate and denying the people of Lincoln a chance to hear him defend his record as MP.”

Elaine Smith (TUSC) said: “I am standing has a Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) Parliamentary Candidate for Lincoln and I am attending the first Lincoln political debate programme because I believe it is important that all attempts are made to inform and engage with the public about how political decisions affect them.

“Oppression has increased feelings of dread and fear in ordinary working class people. I believe they need a voice to help them gain self worth and confidence. TUSC believes in putting people before profit and stands for a democratic socialist society. This is why I am joining the debate.”

What the organisers said

The organisers of The Lincoln Debate programme are Steven Fletcher, Publisher of Lincolnshire Echo, Daniel Ionescu, Managing Editor of The Lincolnite, and Charlie Partridge, Managing Editor of BBC Radio Lincolnshire. They have been planning the event for over two months and are looking forward to this first-time collaboration.

Inside the LPAC auditorium, where The Lincoln Debate programme will be held.

Inside the LPAC auditorium, where The Lincoln Debate programme will be held.

Daniel Ionescu, Managing Editor of The Lincolnite, said: “The Lincoln Debate is an exciting project we’re delighted to help organise. Our combined audiences should reach the largest number of people possible across the city, and people will be able to take part in a programme similar to the TV debates we’ve seen in the 2010 general elections, and find out what the candidates actually stand for.

“It will also be a great opportunity for candidates to engage with city voters in this unique collaboration between local media, and I hope that Karl McCartney will reconsider his position and join the debate programme.”

Steven Fletcher, Publisher of Lincolnshire Echo, said: “I’m excited we’re hosting this just three days before the election. Lincoln is such a marginal seat that it will undoubtedly be a focus of national attention.

“It is a shame the city’s current MP will not be attending, as he has reservations about where the event is held and with the host on the night. However, we have assured him that if he chooses to change his mind, he will be welcome to join in.

“In this year of celebrating Magna Carta and democracy here in Lincoln, it’s fitting we should host such an event so soon before the election, and we want the public to be heavily involved.”

Charlie Partridge, Managing Editor of BBC Radio Lincolnshire, said: “The format of the general election hustings, and the choice of chair, has been carefully planned and agreed by BBC Radio Lincolnshire and our local media partners.

“It will be an opportunity for the people of Lincoln to hear from all those seeking to be their MP. All but one of the election candidates has agreed to take part. We regret Karl McCartney has chosen not to and hope he will reconsider.”