The Liberal Democrats have thrown their hat into the ring for the forthcoming series of debates between the Labour candidate Josh Fenton-Glynn and Conservative MP Craig Whittaker which kick off tonight (Thursday) in Brighouse.
When Mr Fenton-Glynn challenged Mr Whittaker to a debate on the NHS in July, Mr Whittaker agreed insisting that the pair hold four debates across the Calder Valley and include an open forum for residents to pose questions.
Since the debates were agreed, members of Mr Whittaker’s team accused Mr Fenton-Glynn of avoiding the debate, claiming to this reporter that they hadn’t heard from Mr Fenton-Glynn.
When asked, Mr Fenton-Glynn quickly provided email correspondence proving the allegations to be false.
Mr Fenton-Glynn said: “I called these debates specifically between Mr Whittaker and myself, he agreed to that format and we have agreed the format, dates and locations.
“They are for local people to be able to hear both sides of the argument on the threats faced by our NHS services - we don’t need two voices from the coalition.
“It is only in the past week that Craig decided that his argument in defence of this Government’s record on the NHS isn’t strong enough without his Liberal Democrat supporters.”
Mr Fenton-Glynn has now agreed to the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate Alisdair McGregor’s inclusion in the debates.
Mr McGregor said it would be undemocratic to be excluded and said that the public have a right to hear from all political parties in the run up to next year’s election.
He said: “In Government we have ensured an extra 6,000 new doctors have started work since 2010. It was Liberal Democrats who stopped Conservative privatisation plans and reversed some of Labour’s policies which meant private health companies got special favours.
“Perhaps Labour are scared we will draw attention to their own record of privatisation and their disastrous PFI deal that has cost Calderdale Royal Hospital millions and puts services at risk.
“We will happily debate any selected Parliamentary candidates from any party.
“As soon as the Green Party, UKIP or anyone else select a candidate, we would like them to be included too.”
Mr Whittaker said he welcomes the inclusion of Mr McGregor in the debate.
The first debate will take place this evening at Brighouse High School (Finkel Street) from 7pm until 9pm.