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General Election 2024: You Decide

Updated: Jun 29

Seven Parliamentary Candidates Battled it out in a General Election Hustings, Brought to you by The Gaudie.


By Kirsten Koss and Josh Pizzuto-Pomaco


Photo by Clive Davies


Students, staff, and members of the public filled New Kings 10 last week, as The Gaudie hosted a panel of seven local parliamentary candidates from across the North East.


The debate was lively at times, as candidates sparred over a number of issues, including how to best transition from the oil and gas industry, the conflict in Palestine, and plans to improve public infrastructure in Aberdeen. 


Veteran SNP politician Kirsty Blackman was joined by Lynn Thomson, a Labour councillor and NHS manager, as well as Guy Ingerson, a former oil and gas worker and Scottish Greens activist. Electrical engineer Graeme Craib, standing for the Scottish Family Party, also attended the hustings, alongside independent candidate Sophie Molly and Conservative councillor Richard Brooks. Accordionist and folk musician Charlie Abel, standing for the Alba Party, rounded out the panel.


The night commenced with each of the seven candidates delivering 30 second opening speeches to the packed out lecture hall. 


Labour’s Lynn Thomson insisted that both the Tories and the SNP “failures” have made voters “hungry for change”, whilst the SNP’s Kirsty Blackman focused on her record in Westminster, stating that she and her team had “helped with over 30,000” problems. Mr Ingerson told the audience that the Greens are focused on a transition to a “more secure and sustainable world” whilst Independent Sophie Molly said she wants to “help the vulnerable and disenfranchised.” 


The Scottish Family Party’s Graeme Craib admitted that he was “new” to debating, instead sharing his experience in the oil and gas industry.


Tory candidate Richard Brooks insisted that his party is “focusing on Scotland” where he said the electorate want “investment, not independence”, with Mr Abel instead suggesting that Scotland’s problems “can be solved with independence.”


Sparks flew throughout the night, with hecklers interrupting ALBA’s Charlie Abel’s claim his part will “protect the rights of women and girls”.


However, it was the climate that proved to be the most controversial topic, with tensions rising between the panel as they answered a student’s question on achieving a just transition. The Greens and Tories clashed on the matter, with Mr Brooks suggesting that oil and gas companies will fund a just transition. An incredulous Guy Ingerson suggested it was “absurd to ask the arsonist to put out the fire”.


Mr Brooks was later embroiled in an argument with a woman in the audience who called into question his claims on the climate, with another asking “how about you have respect for the whole planet?”


Asked for their views on the conflict on Gaza, candidates expressed a variety of opinions, ranging from Ms Molly’s impassioned exclamation of ‘Solidarity with Palestine’– which elicited a loud applause from the audience – to Mr Brooks’ assertion that Israel should not ‘negotiate with terrorists.’


Six of the seven candidates expressed support for ongoing pro-Palestinian student encampments across the UK, whilst Mr Brooks said he was ‘indifferent’ on the issue. 

One area where all candidates found common ground was on the issue of improving rail links to Peterhead and Fraserburgh. The efforts of the Campaign for North East Rail were praised by a number of those on the panel, including Mrs Blackman, who said she was the first candidate to endorse the campaign, a claim which was later supported by the CNER on Twitter.


A crunch poll of the 70+ attendees found that Mrs Blackman took home the gold prize, with Mr Ingerson finishing second by one vote.


A recording of the full event can be found at www.youtube.com/@GaudieContent with a full breakdown of candidates standing in Aberdeen City on available on the Aberdeen City Council website.



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