NW Sheffield News joined approximately 75 representatives from community and voluntary groups all across Sheffield yesterday at Voluntary Action Sheffield as they “met the candidates” standing in the General Election.
Nick Warren, Chief Executive of VAS, was largely non-partisan as he chaired proceedings which started off with a 10-minute presentation from each of three Prospective Parliamentary Candidates:
- Nicola Bates (Conservative PPC for Sheffield Hallam constituency)
- Paul Blomfield (Labour PPC for Sheffield Central)
- Simon Clement Jones (Lib-Dem PPC for Sheffield Heeley)
After their presentations – mostly revolving around their own experiences of voluntary work (Blomfield’s hint at covert work in South Africa for the ANC being the most interesting) – there were a number of pre-chosen questions that centered on immigration, housing, role of voluntary-sector organisations in delivering public services, adult education and active citizenship.
There were absolutely no surprises in any of the answers: Labour favoured strong roles for the state; Lib-Dems advocated a balanced mix between state and suitable “third sector” groups; and the Conservatives championed community and family input into society with as little state intervention as realistically possible. Good-natured banter occasionally emerged about how the other candidates were saying one thing whilst their parties had a history of doing the opposite.
Green Party PPC for Sheffield Central Jillian Creasy was in attendance but only spoke from the floor (making a statement about involving “third sector” organisations in education with a view to encouraging active citizenship).
The event was a good idea that was never actually realised. There was little of interest to write about, particularly not any real “political engagement”.
Maybe the total of 90 minutes wasn’t enough. One particular PPC was out the door and puffing on a fag within seconds of the finish.