ORGANISERS of a hustings for the Wokingham parliamentary constituency have expressed their dismay that Sir John Redwood will not be attending.
The veteran Conservative had previously indicated that he would be able to attend, but because the Advance Together and Green party candidates won’t be appearing at the event, he is not longer attending.
However, the event will still go ahead with two doctors – Phillip Lee and Annette Medhurst – on Friday, December 6, at Wokingham Baptist Church in Milton Road.
In an interview with The Wokingham Paper conducted on Friday, November 22, Sir John expressed his love for hustings events – where voters can ask questions of the candidates – but also said that the Wokingham event needed a full house of candidates to go ahead.
He said: “[Churches Together Wokingham] haven’t confirmed with me that they’ve got the other candidates because obviously we need all the candidates there. I’m very happy to do it. I think I was the first to respond positively to it.
“It’s got to be all five candidates otherwise it breaks election rules. I want a good debate, but it’s got to be all five candidates to be fair.
“I’ve accepted with great alacrity because I enjoy election debates.
“I’ve got something I want to tell people. But I am a stickler for election rules, because I think you have to be, you have to respect the law. And if I made a mistake on election rules, I’m sure you would be putting it all across the front pages of your newspaper.”
However, Churches Together in Wokingham were advised by the Electoral Commission that as the Hustings are non-selective they may go ahead. Indeed, Reading West hustings went ahead without a candidate attending and so have several others.
In a statement, the organising committee for Churches Together in Wokingham said: “We are really disappointed that Sir John Redwood has decided that he will not come to the hustings on December 6, because the Green candidate and the Advance Together candidate are not coming.
“However, both Dr Phillip Lee (Lib Dem) and Dr Annette Medhurst (Labour) have confirmed that they are happy to attend.
“All five candidates have been invited and we have worked really hard to get all of them to come. Ultimately, we can only invite and not compel and so we will still hold the Hustings event with the candidates who have chosen to attend.
“We look forward to welcoming Wokingham constituents who want to question their candidates.”
A spokesperson from Wokingham Labour said: “Thankfully the hustings will go ahead.
“Individual candidates cannot be allowed to veto the event and it is right that voters should be able to question the candidates.
“Just like his leader Johnson, Redwood seems scared of public scrutiny. There is no other rational explanation.”
They added: “Annette is keen to share Labour’s plans for real change in our country. As the only serious local candidate, electing Annette would provide a real change in the type of MP we have.”
The event will be held from 7.30pm on Friday, December 6.