PICT16712The much anticipated Thurrock Parliamentary Constituency hustings took place on the evening of Wednesday 21 April at Grays Parish Church. 108 people turned up to hear the five parliamentary candidates.

The event opened with host Rev Darren Barlow welcoming all to the hustings and politely reminding the candidates and audience alike to respect the values that the venue represents. He then dedicated the evening to God.

Then the chairperson for the evening, Rev Steve Williams, emphasised the ground rules and explained how the evening was to be structured. Steve had collated the questions that had been sent in – some were from individuals and some were based on topics suggested by more than one person.

Five of Thurrock’s parliamentary candidates were present. They were (in alphabetical order):

  • Clive Broad (United Kingdom Independence Party)
  • Emma Colgate (British National Party)
  • Carys Davis (Liberal Democrats)
  • Jackie Doyle-Price (Conservative)
  • Carl Morris (Labour)

The format allowed each candidate to make an opening 2 minute statement. Then the candidates answered a number of questions, again with a 2 minute limit, each getting up to speak at a microphone at the front. At the end, each was permitted to make a 3 minute concluding statement.

At the very end of the evening, Colin Baker, pastor of Grays Baptist Church, made some closing observations and prayed for the candidates and for the members of the public present that each would confer with God over the things they had heard during the hustings.

Reaction to the Thurrock Constituency hustings

PICT16733Rev Rosemary Pritchard of Grays Methodist Church said, “I thought it was quite sterile really. Our desire/need to keep the extreme parties in control – and for my money there is more than one extreme party standing – precluded any teasing out by supplementary/divisive questions. And I will admit to having such a superficial understanding of the standard issues that I for one wasn’t in a position to ask deeper questions – and I guess some others are just as ill-equipped as I. And none of it goes far enough for me… like I said, the question I wanted to put was on the lines of what on earth do you think your economic policies have to say to us when we are trying to follow the One who warned us against serving mammon… (However,) the whole exercise was well worth it; lots of help on the CTBI website; and it exposed some of the candidates for what they were: terrible public speakers and pretty thin on ideas and policy.”

Rosemary added that a friend in another part of the country had been to a local hustings where the final question was: “What would you like us to pray for during the election campaign?” – this seemed to flaw each of the candidates, and in fact, one (the Green) said he didn’t know!?

Jonathan Harrold was probably the youngest person at the hustings. At 18, he gets to vote for the first time in a General Election. His take on the evening was, “Interesting; opened my eyes; very informative about what each candidate stands for in terms of different policies and stuff.” Jonny was amused, however, because at one point one of the candidates handed sweets along the table to the others. He says, “This was humorous because it’s obscure seeing all these people who are against each other sharing a packet of mints. They should all give up and start new type of government!” Asked if he’s made his mind up about who he’ll vote for yet, Jonny replied, “I still haven’t completely decided yet. The hustings confused me further!”

PICT16692Roy and Margaret Smith of St Thomas’ RC Church outlined the positives of the evening: “Getting the five main candidates to attend; all candidates obeyed the rules; all key questions were selected by chairman Steve; impeccable keeping to agenda and time plan by Steve; and most candidates were very articulate.”

The negatives, in the Smiths’ opinion, were: “We were sad that Christian values were not supported by all candidates (but that is necessary in a democracy, and helps Christian voters make their choice). While we were relieved that all were well behaved, we felt uneasy that the articulate performance of [one of the candidates] candidate was so different from the reputation of their party. (Again, that is a necessary part of democracy. Constituents need discernment and prayer to make wise choices). We were sad to observe that all the candidates seemed lightweight.”

Roy explained that, “By articulate, we meant that (most of them) they were able to express their responses with clarity. By lightweight, we meant that they seemed to lack the oratory of leadership.”

Georgette Polley, former Conservative councillor and Bar’N’Bus driver, made the following observations: “I thought the evening went well. The Chair, time-keeper, audience and the candidates in the main behaved themselves. The method of changing the order of the speakers I thought was a good one. The venue was a good choice and I was struck by the closing comments, that in the realms of being fair, as we were in an Anglican Church, and events chaired Anglian minister (with a few Catholics scattered in the audience), that a Baptist minister was invited to close the meeting in prayer.”

PICT16702Georgette continued by saying: “We were all God’s children coming together to ask our Lord for his wisdom to guide our decision-making when we come to choose who will govern over our country and our council. The opportunity for all parties to be afforded a shared platform could only take place in the house of the Lord.”

She said this is because, “I know I am flawed and have a disregard for any manifesto that would spread tension and unrest. But in God’s house I can put aside my human failings, and listen to a balanced debate and know that my vote will be made as an informed choice, not out of knee-jerk reactions to spin and propaganda, and that I have heard first hand that two of the parties taking part would never reflect my values or views. With honesty I can say that I have considered my actions. I also pray that the candidates who are all facing many pressures and possible hostilities having bared their souls found some solace and peace in what must be a really hectic and stressful time for them.”

Colin Baker said: “No fireworks, no drama, no razzmatazz. No need on the end for Police but comforting to know they were there. And here’s us praying that we don’t need to do it for another 3 years!”

Since the hustings took place, two more candidates have registers to stand in the Thurrock Constituency. They are:

  • Arinola Araba (Christian Party – Proclaiming Christ’s Lordship)
  • Ian Heffron (Independent)

Your Thurrock coverage of the hustings

  • See video coverage of the Thurrock hustings in Grays on www.yourthurrock.com/2010/04/22/thurrock-election-hustings/#comment-616
  • See what happened at the hustings held in St Margaret’s, Stanford-le-Hope, last Tuesday evening, on www.yourthurrock.com/2010/04/21/candidates-debate-in-st-margarets/#comment-615

For full lists of candidates standing in Thurrock and S Basildon & E Thurrock please go to:

  • www.yournextmp.com/seats/thurrock
  • www.yournextmp.com/seats/south_basildon_and_east_thurrock

This website has links to further information and is very useful as you pray and make the right decision for your constituency’s needs and in discerning the nation’s prophetic destiny in Christ.

Pictures, from top to bottom:

  • Jackie Doyle-Price (Conservative) makes her opening statement
  • Carys Davis (Lib Dem) makes her opening statement, watched by Steve Williams, with Carl Morris (Labour) making notes
  • Some of the audience at Grays Parish Church
  • The five candidates being briefed by Steve before the ‘fight’ commenced

Transformation Thurrock would like to respond to various calls to prayer by national prayer networks by facilitating and/or promoting days of prayer and fasting for Thurrock and the UK on Tuesday 4th, Wednesday 5th and Thursday 6th May.
Please get in touch with Tim Harrold on tim@transformationthurrock.com or 07 929 878 089 if you wish to get involved with this or already have events lined up.
2 Chronicles 7:14