What the leaders debates should be like..

Rachel Tyndall, Richard Sumray, Lynne Featherstone

HEALTH chiefs Rachel Tyndall and Richard Sumaray look a little disheartened by it all in this picture but last night’s Whittington Hospital meeting in Hornsey was good old fashioned local politics at its empowering best. The decision makers behind the desk facing questions from angry allcomers, nowhere to hide in a packed hall school.

But it wasn’t a full on ambush, both sides had a fair chance to put their view of the Whittington Hospital debate, and, best of all, there wasn’t a press officer in sight. There was a great rawness to it all,  a welcome throwback to the politics before communications people began to strangle public affairs. More people would surely get involved in the decisions that affect their neighbourhoods if there were more events like it.

You couldn’t agree with much of what Tyndall and Sumray said. The underlying thread seemed to be that the Whittington Hospital’s services remain at risk of being shut down even if thousands object. But their willingness to face the hostility – sitting uncomfortably next to Lib Dem MP Lynne Featherstone, who organised the meeting and vehemently opposes the closure of the accident and emergency department – is to their credit. If only the leaders debates in the run-up to the General Election were going to be like this, rather than cloaked in pre-arranged rules and stripped of the emotion that can stir people’s interest. Our highest ranked politicians fear the unscripted, they run from the  loose cannons of questions from the public. I wonder how Brown, Cameron and Clegg would have fared in the school hall last night.

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