Christian People’s Alliance leader Sid Cordle was booted out of last Tuesday’s hustings in Peterborough City Centre after protesting why his party was not given a seat at the local meeting. The church which hosted the event had only given eight candidates seats after host Canon Ian Black had sought advice from the Electoral Commission, despite the fact that 15 people are in the race to become the next MP for the Eastern city.
Mr Cordle said he did not object to the main parties or The Brexit Party attending due to an increase in support for Nigel Farage’s new party.
But the Chairman was furious that other parties who had not registered support at the previous General Election in 2017 were given a platform at the discussion.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Cordle said: “We had no objection to six of the candidates, we had no objection. We had an objection to Renew and the SDP.”
The party leader was then “manhandled and chucked out of the meeting”.
Peterborough candidate Dr Tom Rogers stayed but was not allowed to air his opinions on topics such as education, the environment and Brexit.
“He didn’t have a chance to speak,” said Mr Cordle, “He stayed in the hustings but was not allowed to voice any opinions.
“We were invited to a hustings that took place two days later but the number in the audience was far fewer.”
Dr Rogers is standing in his first political election and has announced plans to campaign heavily for the rights of parents if he was to win the seat.
The party support leaving the European Union on WTO terms but would back a second referendum five years after implementing the result of the first.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Dr Rogers said: “I felt very grateful for Sid, as my agent and party leader, making a stand for my democratic rights as a candidate. I fully supported his actions, and in fact he exercised great restraint and respect towards the chair.
“It was frustrating not to be on the panel as I felt we could have made a positive contribution to the debate.
“We offer something distinctive from the other parties, especially as we base our policies on Christian principles and values. Why would an ‘inclusive church’ want to exclude the Christian voice.”
Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, Chair of the hustings, Canon Ian Black, said that this was the “first time” candidates have been restricted at the hustings and that those that didn’t make the cut did not “sufficiently meet” the criteria.
He continued that the Electoral Commision informed him that the hustings could be held without all of the candidates as long as factors such as the prominence of the party and recent election results were taken into account.
Mr Black confirmed that the SDP was invited to the hustings as their candidate, Patrick O’Flynn, was until recently an MEP.
“The candidate for the Christian Alliance party sat through most of the hustings quietly at the front. It was his agent who decided to interrupt proceedings,” said Mr Black, “He would have been welcome to stay in the church if he had remained in his seat. He decided after the eight candidates had given their minute manifestos to raise the same objection again, which had already been dealt with. Two of the stewards escorted him from the building.”
The Brexit Party are the bookies’ favourites to win the Peterborough by-election as candidate Mike Greene aims to become the party’s first member of Parliament less than two months after launching.
Although the group have no manifesto, Mr Greene has spoken about his plan to improve education and create more jobs in the city that the Secret Millionaire was brought up in.
The election was called after disgraced MP Fiona Onasanya became the first member of Parliament to be booted out by her constituents in a historic recall petition which saw more than 19,000 people wanted her to leave the job.
Voters head to the ballot box on June 7.