Flags around Greenford Baptist Church became the prompt for much debate at the Ealing North parliamentary elections hustings this week.
Candidates David Hofman (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition), Afzal Akram (UKIP), Meena Hans (Green), Steve Pound (Labour), Thomas O’Malley (Conservative), and Kevin McNamara (Lib Dems) battled it out at the church in Beechwood Avenue on Wednesday evening (April 23).
Immigration was a big topic of discussion, and Mr Pound said we should learn from the church we were sat in, which has the flags of different countries hung all around.
He said he is a citizen of the world and proud of that, and glorifies in diversity.
The former MP for the constituency in question said, on the topic of immigration: “We are rich, they are poor, join the dots.”
The UKIP candidate, however, said: “Charity begins at home. We are going through a difficult time as a country so why do we need to borrow money to give to other countries?
“I am a second generation immigrant. I would not be part of a party that was against immigration. We want controlled immigration.
"We would reduce foreign aid to 0.2% but would pay £4bn a year on emergency aid.”
Mr Akram argued mass immigration drives wages down and that UKIP believes in trade not aid, but Mr McNamara accused UKIP of rallying against immigrants.
Mr Hofman said the problem with aid is when it does not go to the people who need it, but rather, to corrupt leaders of regimes.
He said: “To rely on charities to distribute aid is not the way to do it.”
The Green candidate said her party would increase foreign aid.
She added: “We would close the loopholes that allow multi billion pound companies to get away with not paying tax. That would bring in £80bn and solve a lot of the problems.”
Ms Hans said if people voted Green they would keep Ealing Hospital open.
Mr Pound also said: “I will fight to the last drop of my body to save all the services at Ealing Hospital. It’s a matter of life and death, not politics.
“I hope my record will give sufficient reason for votes on May 7.”
Tory candidate Mr O’Malley however said: “The thing we have done is put doctors in charge of decisions on health-care.”
He also said Conservatives have been making GP surgeries seven days a week.
Mr McNamara added: “What we need to do to relieve pressure on our hospitals is to improve our GP services. We are going to raise £8bn for health by increasing taxes and making further cuts to other services.”
In further discussion, Mr Hofman said: “I would represent the working class people, the unemployed, the pensioners. We want the £10 minimum wage for everybody. The hunger people face in this country is a direct result of the austerity.”
Mr Akram said: “I have run my own businesses so I understand what it means to be a local business.
“We want to crack down on benefit cheats and fraud.”
The Green candidate said: “I have raised four children on my own so I know how hard life can be for people. Most of my adult life I have worked three or four jobs just to make ends meet.
“If we do not get climate change under control we face a very uncertain future.”
Mr O’Malley reassured people that unemployment has halved in the last five years, and when asked about food banks said: “I welcome the food banks in our society, I think it means society is doing a good thing.”
On education, Mr McNamara said: “Our party is the one which will protect education funding from the age of two.”