Local campaign groups join forces to hold election candidates’ debate on refugees, human rights and racism

hustings_poster (1)The candidates of the main parties fighting for the Cambridge seat in the General Election will be taking part in a hustings debate at Emmanuel United Reformed Church on May 17.

Lib Dem, Labour, Conservative and Green candidates have confirmed their attendance at the event which is being organised by local activists who are part of a network of groups campaigning for the rights of refugees, human rights and minorities. The public will have the opportunity to ask local candidates questions on immigration, refugees, equality and international responsibility.

These issues are high on the agenda of many residents in a city with one of the highest Remain votes in the UK and a busy calendar of refugee fundraising events, anti-racism demonstrations and organised convoys to refugee camps in Northern France.

The event, which starts at 7.45pm, will begin with a speed dating format during which the audience will be able to submit questions, followed by a panel debate.

Lara Brettell, chair of CamCRAG, said: “Cambridge residents have shown time and again in recent months how much they care about the refugee crisis, by raising money, attending events and calling on their elected representatives to take action.

“The next Government will have to take responsibility for this issue and show real international leadership if we are to continue to be a regarded as a caring, compassionate and outward looking country. It’s absolutely right that local residents  should get the chance to ask those who want our votes where they stand and what they plan to do to help the tens of thousands of human beings fleeing from war and oppression overseas.”

Dan Ellis, chair of Cambridge Refugee Resettlement Campaign, said: “We want the future MP to take the compassion that Cambridge residents have shown for refugees and asylum seekers to Westminster.

“Our future MP needs to fight for making our asylum system less inhumane, for changing the defunct dispersal system that re-houses asylum seekers in the more deprived areas in the UK, and for ending indefinite detention. We also call for increasing resettlement programmes to create more safe and legal routes for people facing war and persecution.

“In Cambridge, we are lucky to have so many amazing people working hard to create a welcoming community. But with increasingly hostile national policies, there are limits to how far we can go through local activism. We need our national representatives to fight for us in Westminster.”