General election campaign trail kicks off with Havant hustings

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THE five men fighting it out to become Havant’s next MP took part in the seat’s first general election hustings ahead of May 7.

Hayling Island Residents Association invited the candidates to address islanders on why they should step into the shoes of retiring Conservative MP David Willetts.

From left, the Green Party's Tim Dawes, Tory Alan Mak, Labour's Graham Giles, John Perry for Ukip and Liberal Democrat Steve Sollitt

From left, the Green Party's Tim Dawes, Tory Alan Mak, Labour's Graham Giles, John Perry for Ukip and Liberal Democrat Steve Sollitt

The most recent candidate to throw his hat into the ring is Liberal Democrat Steve Sollitt, currently an Eastleigh councillor.

He was joined at the packed United Reformed Church Hall by Ukip’s John Perry, Labour’s Dr Graham Giles, Tory Alan Mak and Tim Dawes representing the Green Party.

Mr Sollitt stressed his party were not lame ducks saying: ‘The Lib Dems are different now to the party in 2010. We have achieved. We have taken steps forward, for instance increasing income tax allowance – something the Tories said could not happen.’

Mr Mak, who referred several times to his working-class upbringing by immigrant parents in Yorkshire, said he would fight for a strong economy, successful school and a strong, vibrant community to the town. But one member of the audience tired of his constant references to his working-class childhood and heckled: ‘Oh please don’t tell us that again. You worked for Clifford Chance in the City of London.’

Mr Giles was jeered when he claimed Gordon Brown was seen by many as the Golden Chancellor who oversaw 10 years on economic growth before the crash.

On the NHS and bringing down national debt Mr Perry said he would save money by only providing treatment to British citizens and foreign visitors would have to take out private medical insurance before entering the country.

There was almost across board agreement to a referendum on the EU with Mr Giles saying he would only agree if the vote was made compulsory.

Mr Dawes said his party would fight corporation tax avoidance.