General Election 2019: Pensions, disability policies, housing and an empty chair at hustings in Margate

The hustings and the 'empty' Conservative seat

Parliamentary  candidates at a hustings in Margate today (December 5) were grilled on issues ranging from housing for older people to state pension ages and inequalities and disability policies.

The hustings, organised for Thanet’s over 50s by East Kent Women Against State Pension Inequalities (WASPI) campaigners and hosted at Margate Caves, was attended by North and South Thanet Labour candidates Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt and Dr Coral Jones, Becky Wing standing for the Green Party in South Thanet and Martyn Pennington standing for Lib Dems in South Thanet. A cut out of Sir Roger’s face was taped to an empty chair at the hustings panel table to highlight his absence. South Thanet Conservative Craig Mackinlay was also absent. The event was chaired by Kathy Bailes from The Isle of Thanet News.

One of the issues brought to the fore was that of women born in the 1950s who have been fighting government changes to when pensions will be paid and took a case to the High Court over the way hikes in state pension ages for women were implemented

Women who had been expecting to start drawing their state pensions between 2016 and 2020 found out in 2011 that they would face delays in receiving their pension. Campaign groups such as WASPI say this has caused misery and hardship.

Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt told the gathering that Labour would compensate those women hit hardest by the state pension changes.

An estimated 13,400 women in Thanet and Sandwich who lost out on their pensions would get pay-outs of up to £31,000 under Labour plans.

Becky Wing called the changes “a travesty” and outlined Green Party plans to pay a higher pension rate of £178 and a universal basic income (UBI) for everyone – with those women hit by the pension changes being in the first tranche of pay outs.

Martyn Pennington said Lib Dems would too compensate women hit by the pension changes.

Lib Dem policy is that compensation will be decided in line with the recommendations of the parliamentary ombudsmen, although no recommendation has yet been made due to the Judicial Review action.

Talking about the issue of housing Becky Wing said all homes should be ‘future proofed’ including elements such as toilets and bathrooms being accessible to those with disabilities. Martyn Pennington spoke of inter-generational living and Rebecca Gordon Nesbitt outlined Labour plans to build social housing with councils maintaining their own stock.

Proposals by a think tank to raise the pension age to 75 also came under scrutiny with candidates all opposed to a rise and pledges made that the retirement age would be capped at 65/66 years old. Retraining, retirees sharing skills with younger people and the need for better education and wages earlier in life were also highlighted.

The absence of North Thanet Conservative candidate Sir Roger Gale prompted an impassioned speech from Dr Coral Jones over the need for change.

She said women were being particularly hard hit by Tory policies and driven into poverty. She also highlighted the fight for NHS services and funding, the campaign to stop acute stroke services being moved out of QEQM Hospital and said Labour was the only party able to form an alternative government with the current first past the post voting system.

In answer to a question of whether it was ‘cowardice, complacency or laziness’ that prevented Sir Roger attending, Becky Wing said she would not resort to ‘slagging off’ a person not present to defend themselves or take part in political attacks.


  1. Goodness! Is this a developing trend? Potential Tory MPs haven’t got the guts to face their potential constituents.
    So, you know what you’ll get if you vote Tory: an MP who can’t be bothered to meet with the people who he represents.

    • Indeed – only 20 people there – at least 50% of whom are lifelong, hardened Labour voters and activists who would never vote Tory if you paid them.

      No benefit whatsoever in the Tories attending such an event. There is only political mileage in ensuring that the Tory faithful are rallied to ensure their continued support and/or those disenchanted with Labour, along with the floaters and the undecided who may be swayed.

      Let’s wait and see what happens next week as to how many Thanetians can actually be bothered to cast a vote. The biggest single issue in the minds of the electorate will be Brexit – which is why this election has been called after all ! (The decision about pensions has been argued to finality in the High Court so it is time to move on from that one).

  2. I live in the South Thanet constituency.Lots of Labour leaflets and letters but just one Tory leaflet very early on round here. Then a Green leaflet.

    But the only sign of the Tories has really been the giant posters sited in fields.
    They don’t seem to bother. Just like these hustings in Margate. Or the Channel 4 debate when they had a melting ice-sculpture instead of Boris Johnson who ignored the event.
    Why don’t they bother?

    Just wander into any supermarket and look at the newspaper racks. Rows of papers,over 80% of newspapers sold in the country, with daily headlines about how awful Corbyn and the Labour Party are(with the occasional swipe at Swinson and the Greens but we can tell who they really hate.)

    Why should they bother to canvass or leaflet or chase after hustings or TV interviews? All their campaigning is done for them by the Daily Mail, the Sun, The Express, Times, Telegraph etc Every day a Tory pamphlet (the daily paper)drops through millions of letterboxes while the activists of other Parties traipse through the cold just to deliver one leaflet in 6 weeks.

    So,no,they don’t need to work hard for our votes. Their political agendas are set by the daily papers and then the TV “journalists” just follow suit. If the Tories want Brexit to dominate, they just say so, and ,hey presto, the headlines are full of it and the TV interviewers just copy the idea and wander round asking “the public” what they think of Brexit. And back comes the usual reply that sounds uncannily like the article in that morning’s Daily Mail.

    • Perhaps Labour should have a different leader. After all Labour is being investigated for institutional racism by the EHRC. The party has lurched so far to the left and is unappealing to moderate voters.
      Don’t blame the media, The Mirror and Guardian still support Labour, blame the leadership and Momentum.
      Thanet was Labour under Steve Ladyman who was a moderate candidate.

      • Vote Green then not Tory. Or Vote Labour. Just vote for someone who actually cares about what is happening down here.

      • I am not a member of any political party, but I have seen the headlines on the Daily Mail, Express, and Sun, and even read them in my favourite café on occasion, and then have to boil my hands in acid to get rid of the odorous hatred spewing from them against Jeremy Corbyn! As someone from an ethnic minority, albeit two generations ago, I do know Jews are not a Race, so why do even some people of this religion claim that Jeremy Corbyn is Racist? If Jews are a race what does that make Catholics? Some Jews have deliberately confused this to make it look worse than it is, what it is, is an old fashioned smear campaign against Jeremy Corbyn, and the Labour party, which is disgraceful! If anyone believes Jews are a Race, read Sclomo Sands, the eminent Israeli History professor’s book “The Invention of the Jewish People” where he explores their antecedents, and its not from Israel! He also shows there is no genetic marker to prove they are a race, especially the black ones from Africa!

  3. The 2 doctors – Rebecca and Coral – have spent the last couple of days at Court battling to keep our stroke services at the QEQM.

    Sir Roger and Craig did not and have not.

    Dr Rebecca and Dr Coral still found the time and the energy as did Becky Wing of the Greens to talk to people at a Hustings event.

    Sir Roger and Craig did not.

    To me that speaks volumes as to Becky’s, Rebecca’s and Coral’s commitment to Thanet and by extension to all of us.

    Sir Roger and Craig have shown us time and time again that they are not committed to the health, education, clean air and economy of Thanet and its people.

    Craig Mackinlay actually voted against a proposed rule that would have required private landlords to make their homes “fit for human habitation”.

    • Samara Jones-Hall ‘The 2 doctors – Rebecca and Coral’ you seem to allude that they may be both practising Drs of Medicine? I know Coral Jones is but may I ask what is the subject Rebecca Gordon Nesbitt holds her doctorate in? Unfortunately there is nothing in her election leaflet that I have received that tells me her background.

      • Laurence Davies – I was merely using their titles – if I was implying or alluding to anything I would have said 2 parliamentary candidates with the very human characteristics of empathy and compassion have campaigned against the closure of the stroke services at QEQM for us all.

        • Samara Jones-Hall. Oh silly me! As you have such a knowledge of the candidates standing in this election appreciate if you could answer my original question what is Dr Gordon Nesbit’s Doctorate in?

        • Samara Hall-Jones. Still waiting for a response as to what Dr Gordon-Nesbitt has her Doctorate in? Still I suppose you are too busy peddling your Twitter account. Surprised you haven’t responded or am I?

  4. Im going to buy roger gale a sat nav so he can find his way to Margate . His time is up , so its roger over and out

    • Sir Roger was there on 4 December in the morning according to his twitter feed. Sir Roger says

      “Good to be lobbied by David Sheen of @UKHofficial at Barnacles in Margate this morning”.

  5. Has Gale retired? Is that why he hasn’t lifted a finger to do anything for the North Thanet constituents the past year? What a waste of space. If he isn’t going to do anything or turn up at national husting events to argue his case we don’t want him. Maybe he and Craig have gone to chat up some airport enthusiasts to help with their own aviation business affairs. Vote Labour and have a change of this Tory lot, at least the labour hopefuls love Thanet and will make a difference putting Thanet first.

  6. i am not really into all this stuff , i have voted a lot of times in my life 50+ years . To me labour and cons are all the same, they promise this that and the other , Take this ellection for example thousands spent on police / schools/ hospitals / nhs to me and i might be wrong, where is the millions of funding coming from?.
    Boris i think is a w****r , i have read whenever true or not he cheated on his wives / grouped some woman (that is on the net) should one wish to look, all has been put to one side till next year incase it affects the votes.
    I note the new hospitals/ nurses / police everything he promises will be by 2025 , by that time he will have retired an moved abroad with his large pension , Tony Bliar still gets paid.
    Sorry if i’m wrong an my spelling mistakes .

  7. Replying to Seen it all before, you clearly have trouble expressing yourself, so you resort to personal attacks and rudeness.
    I will not be voting for an anti Semitic party, under investigation by the EHRC, led by a terrorist supporting Marxist. Look at his record, supports Hamas, the IRA, all Britain’s enemies. His policies will bankrupt the country. If you think job prospects and the economy in Thanet is poor at the moment, it’s nothing compared with what it would be under Labour. Do you remember the 1970s?
    How dare you call me a people hater! You really are a disgusting person.

    • I shall certainly vote Labour. The majority of the British press is right-wing and I believe that they have been orchestrating a slanderous campaign against Corbyn and his supporters for years. Nevertheless, there are many Jewish Labour supporters.

      There are racists and anti-Semites in all parties. In the Tory party this seems to manifest itself as a hatred of Muslims. Strangely, we don’t read about this all that much.

      • It’s smears against Labour. The only other political party to be investigated by the EHRC is the BNP.
        Anti-Semitism has been allowed to flourish under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.
        Despite claiming they are dealing with it at least 30 Labour candidates should not be standing due to previous anti-Semitic posts on social media.

        • Please see my comment above Seaside Lover! As mentioned I am not a member of any political party, but I would like to know who these people are making anti-Semitic comments on social media? It is an offence to do so under the Racial & Religious Hatred Act 2006, so why aren’t the police taking action, instead of blaming Jeremy Corbyn for something he is not responsible for?

    • You use the word “Marxist”, but do you actually know what it means, or are you just regurgitating stuff you’ve read in the Daily Mail?

      • I do know what Marxist means. Personified by Labour who has a chancellor who has boasted about overthtowing Capitalism.
        People who don’t vote for an extreme left wing party can obtain information from other sources than the Daily Mail as you so insultingly say.

        • I think overthrowing capitalism would be a very good thing, considering the inequality it encourages and exaggerates.

      • Looks like it

        Remember 2008?

        In 2008, western leaders had to sink trillions of dollars to prevent the world bank system collapsing.

        Lehman Brothers went bankrupt. Merrill Lynch, AIG, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, HBOS, Royal Bank of Scotland, Bradford & Bingley, Fortis, Hypo and Alliance & Leicester all came within a whisker of doing so and had to be rescued.

  8. Much is made of the fact that Labour is being investigated for antisemitism. What are the conclusions? None yet.
    I don’t find it the least bit credible that a major political institution is riddled with antisemitism or anything else. Any more than the Tory party is “Islamophobic” (whatever that neans).
    What is obvious is that the Establishnent (and that includes Blairite Labour) are terrified of the current left leaning Labour Party, because if it comes to power it will frustrate the Establishment’s objective of moving vast amounts of public money into private (and often off shore) purses. So, the Establishment is using any weapon it can to discredit the Labour Party in general and Jeremy Corbyn in particular. They are using dubious methods such as lies, fake “fact checking” web sites, and more underhand methods such as the quite successful attempt to muddy the name of the Labour Party by linking its name with antisemitism.
    As others have said: if you can’t vote Labour, then whatever you do, don’t vote Tory. They are not the party for ordinary people.

  9. Oops, look like you’re in the minority here Seaside Lover, so glad I’ve upset you. Your obsession with Jeremy Corbyn proves my point,anything to distract us from the real issues, you know, education, NHS, social care. Never mind old chum, as long as your alright who cares eh.

    • So anti Semitism isn’t a real issue according to you then?
      Says it all and the sort of society you want to live in.
      You clearly take delight in upsetting people. Glad I’m in a minority and not part of your circle.

      • How do you know, Seaside Lover,that you are not part of – I suppose – Andrew’s circle? There are several people called Andrew living in Thanet. Politics is not often a subject of conversation in my social circles and I have several acquaintances about whose political opinions I know nothing. I daresay this is often the case.

        Anti-Semitism is certainly a real issue. Jewish graveyards have been vandalized recently near where I used to live. And far-right groups exist. Nobody is denying that anti-Semitism exists.

        • Just re-read the above comments and see that it’s “Seen it all before” you’re replying to. Well, again, it’s hard to believe that anti-Semitism is as wide-spread in the Labour party as the right-wing press says it is.

  10. I don’t think any of this is going to cut any mustard with much of the electorate.They have returned conservatives in most elections since the war and in the interwar years.
    They clearly believe that Brexit and Conservative policies will lead to the promised land.I hope for their sakes, they are right, but the evidence of the past 70 years is heavily weighted in the opposite direction.As for moderate opinion, it is true the Corbynite wing are in the ascendant within Labour, but so too is the extreme reactionary right within the Tory party.
    I hope one day my country will wake up from its nightmare and return to sensibility and calm analysis of promises made by politicians, but I fear before that blessed time, many will suffer greatly.

  11. Many Tories past and present including a former Tory PM are asking people to NOT VOTE Tory and to vote tactically. Here this means Labour.

    Lord Patten also told @EmmaBarnett: on BBC Radio 5

    ?️”Boris Johnson unfortunately… is turning the Conservative Party into a rather narrow, sectarian, English nationalist party”.

    I myself have been a Tory member for probably longer than our chancer Craig.

    I am no longer a Tory member and will not vote for Boris Johnson. This is about trust.

    Whatever the promise is any of the parties. Surely trust must be at the foundation without that nothing will continue to happen.

    Btw Seaside Lover

    At least Labour has shown itself to be open to scrutiny.

    The Tories cannot even admit there is a problem on any front in relation to discrimination on race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, ability and economic status.

    (See Sally Ann Heart Tory candidate for Hastings & Rye for her thoughts on lower pay for those with learning difficulties in addition to Boris’ long list of deragatory comments and inaction).

    Surely admitting there is a problem is the first step.

    The Tories seem to be incapable of doing that on-
    And Climate

    The list goes on and on.

    Looking forward to actually seeing and questioning Craig on Sunday at The Granville Theatre and on Monday night at St Luke’s for hustings but I doubt he will show up.

    I have never seen Craig in Ramsgate; living life as a local.

    I have seen Rebecca (Labour) and Becky (Greens) around town shopping, eating and attending all sorts of events.

    They are putting their own money into our economy and seeing with their own eyes what it is like living in South Thanet.

    They are also listening to and campaigning hard for us on a range of issues from QEQM to schools to clean air to the Port.

    • Craig wasn’t in the rain in Ramsgate this morning. He’d sent a substitute: Trevor Shonk, ex Mayor of Ramsgate and UKIP (who were they) councillor.

  12. Where’s Seaside Lover gone, probably with Gale and Mackinlay in cloud cuckoo land. Still no mention about Education, NHS, Social care, just bash Corbyn on a subject that has absolutely no effect on our economy or social justice. Still the tories have a narrative that they like and so keep repeating it. If I hear idiot Johnson say get brexit done once more I might start believing it. Don’t think so not falling for any more tory mantras.. You know, strong economic plan, strong and stable etc. What say you Seaside Lover, any of this ring a bell?

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