I just attended the Hustings for Southampton Test. These are my thoughts on some of the candidates.
Alan Whitehead (incumber Labour MP): Seemed rather nervous at the start but gained confidence later in the debate. To his credit he made some good points; I was impressed that he was bold enough to state that the law of the land should trump religious beliefs. However I also got the impression that he was less up to speed with other candidates on local issues and perhaps hadn't been paying proper attention to his constituency. Surprisingly enough he opposes Trident in favour of a cruise missile system like the LibDems advocate.
Jeremy Moulton (Conservatives): Made some good points and seemed a confident speaker. Some of the answers he gave seemed to have been slighty evasive/misleading when audience members responded to his answers. Attacked Alan Whitehead for using the communications allowance and supposedly putting the Labour party name on it (?)
Dave Callaghan (Liberal Democrats): Seemed the most honest of the lot. He highlighted some of the local issues that he's been campaigning for, like the closure of the Millbrook library, which he attacked Jeremy on (Jeremy is responsible for finances on the local council?).
Pearline Hingston (UKIP): A UKIP candidate who is an immigrant (how's that for a brain-breaker?). She came across as completely clueless and in general contributed very little of note. The one time she really attempted to express an opinion on something (cyclists riding on the pavement) she got smacked down by a member of the audience in response for not having a clue what she was talking about.
Chris Bluemel (Green): Surprisingly clueful and well-spoken. He spoke out in favour of nuclear disarmament and did it well, even though I don't agree with his views.
During the debates I sat next to an older gentleman who spent the time scribbling down notes on the back of an envelope. When he asked a question to the panel, he made some strange comments about Halliburton and BP. He seemed to think that there were plans to site nuclear submarines in Southampton docks, and was worried they might blow up and destroy the city. Very odd.
There was an obvious large Christian presence in the audience, and I suspect that siting the debate in a church probably didn't help. The candidates were asked at one point why they had all refused to sign a petition (I forget the name of it) declaring their support for Christian beliefs, although it was then revealed that none of the candidates had even heard of it. Several questions were asked about Christian rights that were obviously homophobic (eg. anti-gay marriage), though the people posing the questions tried to veil this by speaking in vague terms that made it less obvious what they were talking about.