Harrow East candidates clash at public debate

FOUR candidates vying to be the next MP for Harrow East came head to head in a public debate on the issues affecting the borough.

Tory challenger Bob Blackman clashed with Labour's Tony McNulty on health, transport, and the economy in the debate held at the University of Westminster's Northwick Park campus last night.

The two political heavyweights were joined on stage by Lib Dem Nahid Boethe and UKIP candidate Abhijit Pandya, both hoping to make their mark in a contest many believe is a two-horse race.

Discussing transport, Mr Blackman revealed Tory mayor Boris Johnson promised last week to review the issue of disabled access to Stanmore Station following a visit on the campaign trail.

But Mr McNulty hit back, accusing the mayor of letting residents down over the Jubilee Line upgrades and suggesting Mr Johnson will not live up to his promises on Stanmore Station just as he had broken his promises to keep all ticket offices open.

The future of health services in Harrow as been an increasingly important issue in this election, after the Labour announcement that funding had been agreed for the rebuilding of the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore.

Mr Blackman argued: “It is not fair to say there is no threat to A&E services at Northwick Park Hospital.

“Northwick Park has to find £50m in this financial year - £20m in urgent health and safety repairs and £30 in so-called efficiency savings under this Labour government.”

But Mr McNulty argued it was a “lie” to say that Northwick Park Hospital was under threat.

He said: “I would tell people to stop telling lies, there is no threat to Northwick Park.”

The issue of MPs expenses, particularly Mr McNulty's second home in Harrow which his parents had been living in, came up during the debate, and Mr Pandya came out fighting on this issue.

He said: “Tony McNulty is saying he hasn't done anything criminal, but isn't it extraordinary that it isn't criminal?

“I hope people throw him out. This man has destroyed public trust and shown what his own inners qualities. It's a disgrace.”

Mr McNulty bullishly defended his position, pointing out he had acted on advice from the Parliamentary fees office that was subsequently declared wrong, and said he had apologised to his constituents and to Parliament in October last year.

The Labour MP, who is fighting to keep the seat he has held for the last 13 years, clashed earlier with Mr Pandya, accusing him of being “the BNP in a suit”.

Mr Pandya, a political unknown before this campaign, argued from the off that British culture should be put first and said “multiculturalism is a bad thing”.

He argued that to be labeled a British Indian would be offensive, but Mr McNulty in particularly slapped down the suggestion that multiculturalism was a “dirty word” and accused UKIP of promoting racist policies.

The fourth candidate, Mrs Boethe, struggled to make her mark on the debate, and on this performance will find it difficult to win the Harrow East constituency.

She found herself under fire towards the end of the debate over the Lib Dem's handling of the Jenny Tonge affair after the peer was not kicked out of the party for her allegedly anti-semitic comments about “organ harvesting” in Haiti.

The debate was hosted by website HA1, www.theha1.co.uk, and the Harrow West candidates are due to face a public grilling on Monday at North Harrow Methodist Church, starting at 8pm.

Comments (9)

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12:27pm Wed 21 Apr 10

stevemolen says...

One would think that the conservatives (and labour) would vet all candidates for past history on any crimminal or dodgy dealings or current HMRC investigations.

Do these politcians ever learn? it looks like these new candidates are all new fresh recruits to rip us taxpayers off once again !

Hopefully one day these crimminal candidates & politicians will be brought to justice... that one day needs to be sooner rather than the next decade!!

Lets see what the tories do on this guy !........... nothing !

I'm an undecided voter as yet.
One would think that the conservatives (and labour) would vet all candidates for past history on any crimminal or dodgy dealings or current HMRC investigations. Do these politcians ever learn? it looks like these new candidates are all new fresh recruits to rip us taxpayers off once again ! Hopefully one day these crimminal candidates & politicians will be brought to justice... that one day needs to be sooner rather than the next decade!! Lets see what the tories do on this guy !........... nothing ! I'm an undecided voter as yet. stevemolen

1:42pm Thu 22 Apr 10

Yogesh says...

Mr McNulty says: “I would tell people to stop telling lies"

Please Mr McNulty start with Labour Party both Nationally and Locally. Just wait as we move nearer to 6th May 2010. Hope you will be able to keep track of all that will be told by your party to the residents of UKplc and in particular to hard working residents of Harrow.

As for Mr Pandya standing for UKIP who is ashamed of being called British-Indian, should bury his head in the sand.
Mr McNulty says: “I would tell people to stop telling lies" Please Mr McNulty start with Labour Party both Nationally and Locally. Just wait as we move nearer to 6th May 2010. Hope you will be able to keep track of all that will be told by your party to the residents of UKplc and in particular to hard working residents of Harrow. As for Mr Pandya standing for UKIP who is ashamed of being called British-Indian, should bury his head in the sand. Yogesh

3:36pm Thu 22 Apr 10

Virinder Srinath says...

No I was there and Abhijit Pandya most certainly didn't say he was ashamed of India. What he said he objects to is being pigeonholed in a separate category because of his skin colour.

Mr Pandya was born, bred and educated in this country he has every right to call himself British as much as David Cameron and Gordon Brown. Good for him. Why should we put up with their patronising attitude?

McNulty is a corrupt man claiming expenses under false pretences, but then Bob Blackman presided over much corruption at Brent Council, and was mired in the Bertha Joseph scandal.

The UKIP candidate Mr Pandya appears to be a breath of fresh air - young and untainted by scandal - he's certainly won my vote.
No I was there and Abhijit Pandya most certainly didn't say he was ashamed of India. What he said he objects to is being pigeonholed in a separate category because of his skin colour. Mr Pandya was born, bred and educated in this country he has every right to call himself British as much as David Cameron and Gordon Brown. Good for him. Why should we put up with their patronising attitude? McNulty is a corrupt man claiming expenses under false pretences, but then Bob Blackman presided over much corruption at Brent Council, and was mired in the Bertha Joseph scandal. The UKIP candidate Mr Pandya appears to be a breath of fresh air - young and untainted by scandal - he's certainly won my vote. Virinder Srinath

5:43pm Thu 22 Apr 10

Hal Iggulden says...

As a writer and artist of some twenty years, born and bred in Harrow I found Abhijit Pandya's comments on multiculturalism illuminating and fascinating. It is about time this perverse doctrine of division was countered and shown up as the root cause of the fragmentation of this country. Surely the blame for the 7/7 bombers in 2005 can be laid at the feet of multiculturalism. It wasn't inclusion and a strong sense of British identity that caused them to murder 52 Londoners. It was a psychopathic ideology, alien to this country which has, none the less, been allowed to flourish.

Mr McNulty's racist comment that Abhijit Pandya was "ashamed of his roots" was disgraceful, and just goes to show the inability of the moribund political class to find answers to the problems of twenty-first century Britain.

Bravo, to the young UKIP candidate from Edgware, we need more like him. I also noted that Abhijit Pandya was the only panelist who actually answered the questions as opposed to the other candidates who just passed the buck. A breath of fresh air that gives me hope for the future.
As a writer and artist of some twenty years, born and bred in Harrow I found Abhijit Pandya's comments on multiculturalism illuminating and fascinating. It is about time this perverse doctrine of division was countered and shown up as the root cause of the fragmentation of this country. Surely the blame for the 7/7 bombers in 2005 can be laid at the feet of multiculturalism. It wasn't inclusion and a strong sense of British identity that caused them to murder 52 Londoners. It was a psychopathic ideology, alien to this country which has, none the less, been allowed to flourish. Mr McNulty's racist comment that Abhijit Pandya was "ashamed of his roots" was disgraceful, and just goes to show the inability of the moribund political class to find answers to the problems of twenty-first century Britain. Bravo, to the young UKIP candidate from Edgware, we need more like him. I also noted that Abhijit Pandya was the only panelist who actually answered the questions as opposed to the other candidates who just passed the buck. A breath of fresh air that gives me hope for the future. Hal Iggulden

5:50pm Thu 22 Apr 10

Yogesh says...

Interesting comments from Virinder Srinath, implies that you and Mr Pandya are very happy to let go of your Indian culture as well as your identity. Good luck to Mr Panday for being a breath of fresh air of destruction.
Interesting comments from Virinder Srinath, implies that you and Mr Pandya are very happy to let go of your Indian culture as well as your identity. Good luck to Mr Panday for being a breath of fresh air of destruction. Yogesh

6:14pm Sun 25 Apr 10

Virinder Srinath says...

Yogesh what nonsense.

People in Harrow do not want the kind of ethnic and religious fragmentation you propose, as you can read on the Kanti Patel thread.

Unlike you, Abhijit Pandya of UKIP seems to be very secure with his identity as a British citizen. This is not the destruction of anything, other than the ghetto politics which we need to move beyond.
Yogesh what nonsense. People in Harrow do not want the kind of ethnic and religious fragmentation you propose, as you can read on the Kanti Patel thread. Unlike you, Abhijit Pandya of UKIP seems to be very secure with his identity as a British citizen. This is not the destruction of anything, other than the ghetto politics which we need to move beyond. Virinder Srinath

2:04pm Mon 26 Apr 10

Yogesh says...

Virinder - We are all British whether by birth or having moved to this country and posses a British Passport, it does not mean that you have to forget and let go of your identity as society or as an individual. If you and Abhijit have given upon on your beliefs and your identity then that is your problem. Better try and identify who you really are?

Kanti Patel's thread is to do with Politics where religion and beliefs have been used to tarnish the whole process.

Good luck with your future and hope that you realise your purpose in life as you move forward.
Virinder - We are all British whether by birth or having moved to this country and posses a British Passport, it does not mean that you have to forget and let go of your identity as society or as an individual. If you and Abhijit have given upon on your beliefs and your identity then that is your problem. Better try and identify who you really are? Kanti Patel's thread is to do with Politics where religion and beliefs have been used to tarnish the whole process. Good luck with your future and hope that you realise your purpose in life as you move forward. Yogesh

4:50pm Mon 26 Apr 10

Virinder Srinath says...

Yogesh - you couldn't be further from the truth in assuming Mr Pandya or myself have given up beliefs and identity.

As Mr Pandya appears to have recognised, his British identity involves rather more than just holding a passport.

If his roots are here, then he is just as entitled to embrace the rich and proud identity of this nation as anyone, and he also appears to realise that the historical Christian faith of these islands is very compatible with liberal Hinduism.

This seems a rather enlightened view that I wish more would embrace, and much better than dividing us all up along ethnic lines as some appear to want.
Yogesh - you couldn't be further from the truth in assuming Mr Pandya or myself have given up beliefs and identity. As Mr Pandya appears to have recognised, his British identity involves rather more than just holding a passport. If his roots are here, then he is just as entitled to embrace the rich and proud identity of this nation as anyone, and he also appears to realise that the historical Christian faith of these islands is very compatible with liberal Hinduism. This seems a rather enlightened view that I wish more would embrace, and much better than dividing us all up along ethnic lines as some appear to want. Virinder Srinath

8:08pm Tue 27 Apr 10

Meldrewreborn says...

I don't belong to any faith, although notionally I'm a Christian. I don't object to anybody following any particular faith system unless they try to force their faith system upon others, or to use their faith system to avoid following the laws of this country. I don't care whether people are of any colour or background, gender or sexual orientation so long as they lives which don't impinge on mine and don't seek to force upon me their point of view (Jehova's Witness's take note). We all have human right's and they should be respected wherever possible but it has to be acknowledged that extending the rights of some almost certainly means that the rights of others are restricted by the same degree. Tolerance is the word and we could do well to take note of Stamford Hill where Jews and Muslims live in close proximity and share atttiudes on a number of social aspects. We can all live together in peaceful harmony, but the dogma has to go.
I don't belong to any faith, although notionally I'm a Christian. I don't object to anybody following any particular faith system unless they try to force their faith system upon others, or to use their faith system to avoid following the laws of this country. I don't care whether people are of any colour or background, gender or sexual orientation so long as they lives which don't impinge on mine and don't seek to force upon me their point of view (Jehova's Witness's take note). We all have human right's and they should be respected wherever possible but it has to be acknowledged that extending the rights of some almost certainly means that the rights of others are restricted by the same degree. Tolerance is the word and we could do well to take note of Stamford Hill where Jews and Muslims live in close proximity and share atttiudes on a number of social aspects. We can all live together in peaceful harmony, but the dogma has to go. Meldrewreborn

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