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06 July 2010

Labour Leadership Hustings Hosted by CSM

The Christian Socialist Movement (CSM) hosted a hustings with the candidates for the next Labour leadership contest.

On Monday, 5 July, candidates Diane Abbott, Ed Balls, Andy Burnham, David Miliband, and Ed Miliband gathered at Methodist Central Hall in Westminster to answer the audience's questions about the party's future, its vision and its values.
The event was attended by over 300 guests as well as many members of the CSM.

People had the opportunity to directly address the candidates and voice concerns about budget cuts, economy, education systems, war issues, tax increase, church matters and many more.

Andy Flannagan, director of the CSM, was the host of the evening and began the programme by asking the candidates to introduce themselves with a short statement.

Diane Abbott spoke out for the importance of equality and human rights in society. In her opinion, "politics have to be about practice based on value". Coming from a low-income background and having experienced many hardships, she is concerned about Britain's future generation and equal education opportunities for everyone.

Ed Balls said that "offering breakfast at schools is one step towards fighting the problem". David Miliband added that "the members of the Labour party have the duty to fight injustice". In his opinion, people and politicians need to work together in order to accomplish a movement for change in society.

Ed Miliband described politics as a way of helping people. "Our party should be the best community organisation in Britain," he said. Together with the other candidates, he is supporting the Sanctuary Pledge which was established to ensure that Britain remains a refuge for those fleeing persecution.

In response to questions concerning the economy and taxes, Ed Balls clearly stated that, as the leader of the Labour party, he would not have raised VAT.

With the CSM hosting the event, many Christians were concerned about the role of the Church in the country.

Andy Burnham, who is Catholic, explained that "Politics and the Church are growing apart. That is why the relationship needs to be rebuilt." There has been a clash between state and church. However, "people should have the freedom to express their religion," stated Diane Abbott.

All the candidates pledged to work towards a better Britain. "We need to work together for a better tomorrow," stated David Miliband.

The elections will take place this autumn and the result will be announced on 25 September at the annual party conference.

All questions that could not be answered during the hustings will be published on the Labour party's website.