In your interview with Neil Coyle on Saturday, please can you ask him as one of your questions:
"Knowing that you had already been selected as the Labour party's prospective parliamentary candidate, why then did you choose to stand in the 2014 council elections and, further, take on the role of deputy mayor? Assuming that if successful at the General Election you will relinquish your council duties, do you not think it is unfair for the Southwark taxpayer to pick up the by-election costs caused by you vacating office as a councillor? Is standing for the council in light of your PPC selection the actions of a principled candidate?"
The question wasn't intended to be loaded, although on re-reading it perhaps it might come across that way. I think the nuance of the question proposed was that if he was intending on continuing his council role then that would be a "selling point" of his parliamentary campaign; instead his literature is silent on the point.
Assuming that he confirms that he would relinquish his role on the council, can you ask please, James, something along the lines of whether it was the right thing to do by standing in last year's council elections?
Theory: it would appear, by taking note of the fact that Mr Coyle stood as a candidate for Newington in 2014, when he had already been selected as MP candidate in 2013 (almost one year earlier), that he was playing it safe:
If he decided not to stand as a Southwark Councillor, and then failed to win at the subsequent General Election he would find himself reduced to being a Labour activist with no mandate.
It is for the electors to decide if this strategy was right or wrong.
Hopefully the questions for Mr Coyle that James has prepared incorporate elements of this theory.
Since we're formulating questions can you ask Simon Hughes the following.
1. Is it true that the local Lib Dems received £60,000 from The Choudhrie family and Alpha Hospitals Group?
2. Is he aware that the Care quality Commission have twice found care inadequate at Woking Mental health Unit run by Alpha Hospitals?
3. Is he also aware that the Choudhrie Family previously dealt in arms contracts in India?
Brendan, by all means put the question but do so fairly and having regard to information freely available in the public domain.
1. The local Lib Dems received in 2013 a £60,000 donation from Sudhir Choudhrie as an individual. No money has been received from Alpha Hospitals Group. Source: Electoral Commission website.
2. In light of 1 above, inappropriate. The local Lib Dems have no link to the care provider. (In any event, the CQC's criticisms of the care provider - a limited company and entity in its own right, with eight directors, most of whom non-Choudhri- emerged in 2014).
Two members of the Choudhrie family are executive directors of C&C Alpha, so I think its highly relevant.
I am not suggesting any impropriety. I leave it to people to judge the political consequences of taking such large campaign contributions from people who have previously been involved in the arms trade and now profit from NHS contracts.
Given that Simon Hughes voted for the Health and Social Care Act, I think this should be a matter of interest to the electorate of BOS.
The donation was not from two members of the Choudhrie family, nor was it from C&C Alpha or from Alpha Hospital Group Limited. It was from one individual, Sudhir Choudhrie. As such, any reference to the care provider ought to be left out.
In addition, whatever Choudhrie's past, the British Government (Theresa May) thought he was an upstanding enough citizen to award him the accolade of "Asian Business Lifetime Achievement Year Award 2013". His bona fides therefore seem to have been beyond reproach at the time the Lib Dems accepted a donation from him.