Greens' Kate excluded from political debate

GREENS have been excluded from the next live political debate in the battle for the Calder valley seat.

Kate Sweeny, the Green Party Parliamentary candidate for the Calder Valley, will not share the platform with her political opponents in the forthcoming live debate at Todmorden High School on Thursday, March 11, organised by the National Union of Teachers (NUT).

"I do believe in proper democracy and it's upsetting to find myself side-lined.

"We do operate in a multi-party system," said Ms Sweeny.

"I am a locally based candidate, from the upper Calder valley, and as a speech and language therapist I have extensive experience of working in educational settings and thus would have a great deal to contribute to this debate."

Ms Sweeny also argued that the Greens, who polled 9.8 percent in Calderdale at the last European election, have a lot of support in this area, especially in Todmorden and Hebden Bridge and should not be side-lined as a minority party.

"By only having the three main parties on the platform we just hear the same entrenched views.

"The Greens' educational policy is very strong and we have different policies from the main parties; it would be good to be able to enter into the debate," Ms Sweeny added.

In an e-mail to Ms Sweeny Sue McMahon, division secretary of Calderdale NUT, said in addition to the candidates from the three main political parties the general secretary of the NUT, Christine Blower, and the winning pupil from the debating competition at Todmorden High School, would be sitting on the panel and to add any more would make the platform too extensive.

However Ms Sweeny had been included on a panel, along with Greg Burrows, of UKIP; and independent candidate, Chris O'Connor, at a debate in Lightcliffe earlier this month organised by the lower valley churches together group.

Craig Whittaker, the Conservative candidate, said he would welcome Ms Sweeny on the panel, as well as the other declared candidates, to help engage members of the public in the election.

Labour's candidate, Steph Booth, said she had no problems with Ms Sweeny being on the panel but questioned why she had left it so late to try to change it.

Hilary Myers, the Liberal Democrat candidate, has spoken to the NUT about Ms Sweeny not being on the panel and said it was important that the public had opportunities to meet all their candidates.

A spokesperson for the NUT has been unavailable for comment.