Last night, I attended a hustings event for the Newark parliamentary by-election. The by-election will be held on Thursday 5th June and comes about after disgraced former MP Patrick Mercer resigned following the cash for questions scandal.
BBC radio and camera crews were there alongside representatives of the Newark Business Club, the Newark Advertiser and Radio Newark.
This article isn't an analysis of their performances or my views on their policies. I will simply report to you their stance on certain issues so that you can make a more informed decision in the election.
The evening started off with chairperson, Michelle Allen reading out a list of all the candidates going for the Newark seat. Some of them, I thought, had very entertaining names.
So here are all eleven candidates:
Paul Baggely - Independent
David Bishop - Bus Pass Elvis Party
(my personal favourite name) Nick The Flying Brick - Monster Raving Loony Party
Andy Hayes - Independent
Roger Helmer - UKIP
Robert Jenrick - Conservative Party
David Kirwan - Green Party
Michael Payne - Labour Party
Dick Rodgers - Stop Commercial Banks Owning Britain's Money
David Watts - Liberal Democrats
Lee Woods - Patriotic Socialists
On the night, only parties who had MPs or MEPs were allowed to have their candidates take part so that meant there was a five-man panel of Roger Helmer, Robert Jenrick, David Kirwan, Michael Payne and David Watts.
The candidates were each given four minutes to give their opening speech to the audience.
Roger Helmer (UKIP) talked a lot about the EU - as only UKIP can do - but he also informed us of his long-standing work as an East Midlands MEP, as well as having 33 years worth of business experience in global marketing.
David Kirwan's (Green) background is in Newark having attended school at Lilley and Stone and works locally in the NHS.
Michael Payne (Labour) sounds less 'Wallacey' than Ed Miliband but has the same idiosyncrasies as his party leader. He spoke confidently and pointed out that he is a "Nottinghamshire lad".
David Watts (LibDems) is the older of the five candidates and he stands for "a fairer society and a stronger economy".
Robert Jenrick (Tory) cited his local routes (lives in Southwell) and his background is in business rather than being a "career politician".
David Kirwan (Greens) - Greens have refused donations from people they deem as inappropriate. Mr Kirwan will take the living wage of his constituency and give the rest of his salary as an MP back into the community.
Roger Helmer (UKIP) - has a record of publishing his expenses and abiding by the rules and will continue to do so as an MP if elected.
Robert Jenrick (Con) - will be a full-time MP and will publish his expenses.
All candidates confirmed that they would publish their accounts and expenses.
MP (Labour) - "will fight really hard to improve services."
DW (LibDems) - realises this is the number 1 issue in the constituency. "I will work tirelessly to get services improved." Will fight to get A&E back and all the necessary services at the hospital to support the A&E.
RJ (Con) - wants a long-term hospital plan. He did not mention the A&E at all. "let down by the East Midlands Ambulance Service."
RH (UKIP) - other candidates will be constrained by party whips, first UKIP MP will gain more media attention and he will use this to promote our needs.
DK (Green) - government have let down the ambulance service, says UKIP will charge to see your GP and give you vouchers in order to use health services which sparks cries of "RUBBISH!" from Roger Helmer.
DW (LibDems) - "great idea, it's what people need." Says it is a good policy as a long-term goal and LibDems have helped by rasing the lowest tax threshold.
RJ (Con) - it's down to the government to improve the job market.
RH (UKIP) - there's a balance to be struck and he supports the increase in the first tax threshold.
DK (Green) didn't answer well at all but I think he agreed and of course MP (Labour) supported it as it's a Labour policy.
RJ (Con) - in favour as long as it doesn't have significant opposition in an area.
RH (UKIP) - fracking brings prosperity i.e. USA
DK (Green) - against fracking, fracking is not safe and will not reduce energy bills
MP (Labour) - should not be fracking when we don't know of the damage it will cause
DW (LibDems) - recognises that concerns exist, green is the way, science may in the future mean fracking is viable
RH (UKIP) - supports the idea of traditional marriage alongside civil partnerships for same-sex couples. Roger Helmer responds to accusations of saying that homophobia does not exist by saying that he does not deny prejudice against homosexuals and he condemns that prejudice. He clarifies that he was arguing that the clinical term "phobia" is not correct in that context.
DK (Green) - supports it as a party and as a gay candidate himself.
MP (Labour) - supports it.
DW (LibDems) - supports it, says it is not politician's role to say who should do what.
RJ (Con) - respects both sides of the argument but is in favour. The most important thing is a stable family unit.
PRIVATISATION (OF EAST COAST MAINLINE)
DK (Green) - runs better publicly, rail lines should be taken back into public ownership as tenders come up for renewal.
MP (Labour) - would vote to keep ECR public.
DW (LibDems) - has no principled objection to privatisation but there is no good reason to privatise ECR.
RJ (Con) - would vote to privatise.
RH (UKIP) - would make a decision based on the full facts of the case. As of yet we don't know the facts.
MP (Labour) - would strengthen the minimum wage laws, accuses UKIP of not wanting any immigration which prompts Roger Helmer to shout once again, "RUBBISH!!! RUBBISH!!!".
DW (LibDems) - in the European elections "we saw the triumph of fear over hope."
RJ (Con) - "There are legitimate concerns about immigration". Asks us not to forget the positive role immigrants have had and continue to have in Newark e.g. Polish War Graves
RH (UKIP) - "We want a managed immigration policy based on numbers and skills", "Government is forced to let in any number of unskilled Europeans and therefore squeeze on the number of skilled immigrants from elsewhere."
DK (Green) - "Hope not fear."
A MESSAGE TO THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY ON EU RELATIONS
DW (LibDems) - EU is vital to economic prosperity, "if we have a referendum let's get on and do it", would campaign to stay in.
RJ (Con) - Europe is not working, wants major changes and to cut down on regulations, wants Newark to look beyond the EU and into global markets.
RH (UKIP) - "Jobs depend on trade, not membership of the EU." "We want Britain to be re-engaged with the global economy."
DK (Green) - wants a referendum, would campaign to stay in, has deep concern over US trade deal with EU and what it could mean for NHS.
MP (Labour) - strongly in support of staying in EU.
I hope for those who couldn't make it, but are nevertheless interested, found the above summary useful.