NFU accused of political bias by Green Party's North Shropshire candidate

Reporter:

Staff reporter (Whitchurch Herald)

A PARLIAMENTARY candidate for North Shropshire has accused a leading farming union of political bias after he was excluded from a pre-election debate.

Green Party representative Duncan Kerr was the only North Shropshire candidate not invited to attend a hustings event organised by the National Farmers Union in early April.

The event saw the county’s farming community question politicians on rural matters and agricultural policies ahead of Thursday’s General Election.

Mr Kerr said: “I think its regrettable that NFU members were denied the chance to hear the Green Party’s policies and I think it’s unfair that we were excluded in this way.

“Since the event I’ve been contacted by many farmers who have asked for me to explain our policies on things like badger culling, milk pricing and fracking.

“By seeking to stifle debate the NFU has not served the best interests of its members or the community of North Shropshire.”

Mr Kerr has since contacted the NFU to query his omission from the event.

In response the NFU said that its hustings meetings are non-selective, are only open to NFU members and as such are not considered public events.

In a letter to Duncan Kerr, NFU regional director Robert Newbery wrote: “For practical reasons, we are unable to invite all prospective parliamentary candidates.

“Our aim is to ensure invites represent a reasonable variety of views, from different parts of the political spectrum. 

“Of those in attendance we ensure a fair chance to answer questions and a reasonable opportunity to respond to points made by our members.

“Other factors that influence which parties are invited include the specific requests of our members in that area, where they wish to hear from a particular political party or candidate and the number of elected representatives at a local or national level (we would not automatically invite candidates from parties with less than two MPs nationally).”

Several hustings events have taken place throughout North Shropshire during the election campaign.

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