Saint-Owen – The Democratic Left Party’s latest hustings today in Saint-Owen, capital of Glorionis, was the most aggressive to date, with moderates Ethan Ringrose and Nicola Allman both spending the afternoon defending themselves from Amanda Thomas, the candidate of socialist left wing of the DLP, and current favourite to take the leadership. Thomas, who was on the attack for the entirety of the three-way debate did not come out in a favourable light, according to immediate polling of those in attendance, and by judgement of political journalists and pundits too.
The debate began on foreign affairs, a strong area for Allman, who immediately said she would continue her support for the people of Huenya if she were to be elected. She called Xiomera “an aggressive, militant neighbour” and said that if Huenya was to survive in the long term, nations across the International Democratic Union needed to assist them in their development. She also criticised outgoing leader Charlene Hendry for “too quickly” abandoning Lauchenoiria after their Civil War – “we guaranteed peace and security as per the Haven Accords and then just went on pretending it didn’t happen”.
While Ringrose agreed more or less with Allman – though he couched his support for Huenya purely in foreign direct investment rather than military or direct financial assistance – Thomas accused Allman of being an “imperialist hawk” and that “Huenya and Xiomera are oceans away. They are not Sanctaria’s problem”. On Lauchenoiria, she seemed to blame that country for the issues that led to the civil war saying if they “had not antagonised Kerlile, there wouldn’t have been a problem. They’re still perpetuating a lie that any woman could be an undercover, murderous secret agent – Lauchenoiria is clearly an anti-woman country, spreading anti-woman propaganda”; a comment that both Allman and Ringrose attempted to jump on, shouting over Thomas, and led to boos by the audience in attendance.
Thomas took the opportunity to pivot to social affairs, saying that if elected she would focus on the working class, ensuring that communities were “protected”. She accused the Hendry government of “sometimes forgetting the vulnerable in society” and said that her opponents would not make their lives any better – “Allman served in the military, her focus is going to be on abroad, not on the people of Sanctaria. And Ringrose is your typical straight, white man who will continue the status quo. He will protect the rich to the detriment of single mothers or people caught in the midst of addiction”. When Allman attempted to interject and talk through her plans for social affairs, communities, and the vulnerable, Thomas snapped back at her saying “we don’t need to hear your so-called plans, there’s no hope of you getting elected. You’re in here to split the woman vote and get that man elected. It’s all a ploy to erase the voices of women. Allman was in the navy – a macho, masculine profession. She doesn’t have the interests of women at heart”.
The debate took a brief 15 minute recess at that point – from this reporter’s view, the audience had become very irate at Thomas’ tone and comments against her competitors, with many DLP voters in attendance saying the party shouldn’t be engaging in orange-on-orange attacks – and when they returned they focused on finance and economics. Both Ringrose and Allman laid out a continuation of Hendry’s policies saying it was focusing on growth from the bottom up and removing policies of the SCP that had set up trickle-down economics. When it came to Thomas’ turn, she accused the moderate candidates of being “SCP delegates in disguise, acting to protect the rich”. She demanded all candidates agree to nationalise all public utilities and to seize houses from landlords who threatened to evict tenants without cause – “everyone is entitled to a house over their head, greedy, megalomaniac landlords should not permitted to evict tenants. The only reason they should be kicking someone out of a house is if they intend to move back in themselves. No other reason is valid.” Thomas also said she would increase the higher rate of tax to 90% to “eliminate the billionaire class”.
Ringrose claimed Thomas was being “unrealistic” and that such drastic actions would “severely impact Sanctaria’s domestic economy and position in the IDU”. He said that while the upper rate of tax did need to increase, 90% was “overkill and will incentivise people from wanting to do well”. Under his plans, he said, working class Sanctarians would see a reduction in their taxes and that those who can pay more “will pay more”. He committed to a windfall tax on private companies engaged in public utilities, but disagreed nationalisation was the way forward – “it would damage the Sanctarian economy for the government to own and operate everything”.
Thomas then called Ringrose and Allman “class traitors”, saying the only way to ensure a fair society was to “end the rule of oppressive capitalism”. Summing up her contribution for the night, she said that if leader, and if returned as Chancellor, she would pull Sanctaria out of the World Assembly, and out of the League of IDU Nations, she would nationalise not just public services, but the banks and large-scale housing agencies (or “professional landlords”, as she called them), and would develop a democratic socialist economy.
In her summation, Allman said she would focus on a real living wage as a minimum wage for those under the age of 30, and that she would work towards expanding the Universal Basic Income programme to all those on welfare payments. She committed to free federal travel for all pensioners, and more regulation of the banking sector. She also committed to more internationalism, saying Sanctaria was a global leader and needed to work to protect the vulnerable around the IDU; she said she would work with other countries to reduce overconsumption of food and energy, and stop the “pillaging” of poor countries through over farming and adverse environmental projects that “feeds the rich developed world”.
Ringrose said that he would expand employment protections for those in work, and federally abolish employment-at-will, which is currently in place in two states. He also said he would direct more federal investment to the states, ensuring things like free local public transport, and more access to libraries. He also committed to staying in the World Assembly, and in LIDUN, but did say any government he led would maintain the neutrality policy and would help nations like Huenya up to a point but “we can’t protect them for them”. He said that he would increase the upper rate of tax by 2% but, other than for the poorest 5% in employment, would not “commit to vast tax reductions across the board – we need to be able to pay for the excellent public services we want to provide. We want people to feel like their tax pounds are working for them – everyone has to pay proportionally to the upkeep of a fair society”.
At the closing of the debate, Thomas was observed to walk off stage, refusing to shake the hands of her competitors for the DLP leadership. Both Allman and Ringrose stayed to greet some of the attendees and speak with local DLP chapter members. Glorionis is a blue state – typically returns more SCP MPs and its state governance is in the hands of the blue state – so DLP members tend to be more moderate than most. Many of those in attendance did not support Thomas’ “extreme views” on the economy or foreign affairs before the hustings, and it’s not believed by this reporter she did anything to help her cause here.
AHMED PATEL, Political Correspondent