Sunderland : Green Party sees red as candidate wades into Labour and Ukip debate row

A Green Party candidate has waded into a row over a Labour MP’s refusal to debate with a Ukip politician from out of the area – saying the Labour Party itself fielded a candidate from Teesside at an earlier event.

 Sunderland Central Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Labour, Julie Elliot declined to debate with Ukip North East MEP Jonathan Arnott in an event at Sunderland University on Monday.

 

Mr Arnott had attended in place of his party’s parliamentary candidate for the constituency Bryan Foster, whose wife Dorothy’s chronic illness had taken a turn for the worse.

Mrs Elliot’s reasons were that Mr Arnott is a candidate for Easington and not Sunderland Central.

Now Green Party candidate Rachel Featherstone has hit out at her decision because she was substituted with a candidate from Teesside at an event held at St Aidan’s School in Ashbrooke, in March.

The televised debate, organised by ITV Tyne Tees, featured representatives from the Conservative Party, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, Ukip and the Green Party, allowing pupils from St Anthony’s and St Aidan’s Catholic Academies to quiz them.

Ms Featherstone said Mrs Elliott had no objections in the past, when in the second debate, a local election candidate stood in for LibDem candidate Adrian Page.

“I was happy to debate with the Ukip representative,” Ms Featherstone said. “I believe that in the interests of democracy, all the parties should have been represented.

“I’m concerned that this may affect the willingness of the university to host this kind of event in the future.”

She added: “The organisers are to be commended for the efforts they made to ensure this was a lively and informative debate.”

A Labour Party spokesman said the debate at St Aidan’s was a regional event, with parliamentary candidates from outside Sunderland taking part, while the Age UK debate was a whole of Sunderland city debate not a Sunderland Central hustings.

“It’s odd to see the Green Party cosying up to Ukip,” he said.

“But our position remains the same our candidate debates with other Sunderland Central parliamentary candidates in hustings for Sunderland Central constituency.”

Also standing in the Sunderland Central constituency is Jeffrey Guy Townsend (Conservative) and Jospeh Young (Independent).

Source – Sunderland Echo, 23 Apr 2015

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