Law’s failure

Your letters
Your letters

Your article (Herald, February 26) regarding National Health Action Party candidate for East Worthing and Shoreham, Dr Carl Walker, being excluded from a hustings at the Ropetackle Arts Centre highlights the failure of current electoral law to ensure fair and equal treatment of all political parties.

Every candidate has to pay the same election deposit of £500, and to obey the same election rules, so all should be entitled to the same opportunities of presenting themselves and their policies to voters.

Despite difficulties that may be attached to managing a hustings with multiple candidates, if organisers choose to hold their event in the intense campaigning period between close of nominations and polling day, they should not be allowed to discriminate between candidates by inviting some, but excluding others.

That they do so is not the fault of the Electoral Commission, whose function is primarily to enforce the requirements of the Political Parties Elections and Referendums Act 2000.

The Commission can and does advise that good practice is to allow all candidates to participate, but failure to make this mandatory was the fault of MPs who drafted the PPERA legislation and in whose interest it is to freeze out smaller rivals!

This election is forecast to be the closest and most unpredictable for many years, and votes won by candidates from newer parties may well be decisive to the outcome.

It is clearly in the electorate’s interest to be able to scrutinise and compare all candidates, and it is outrageous that the Ropetackle Arts Centre trustees should have decreed that voters in East Worthing and Shoreham will not be allowed to hear and to question Dr Carl Walker.

Barbara Booker

Orchard Avenue


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