Liz Kendall refuses to join Leicester West hustings

Liz Kendall, the Labour candidate in Leicester West for the upcoming general election, will not appear at The Gazette hustings event after numerous attempts to contact her or her team.

Liz Kendall at the People's March for the NHS in 2014.
Liz Kendall at the People's March for the NHS in 2014. Photograph: daliscar1 / Flickr

For our 2024 general election coverage, we fully intended to run three hustings events across Leicester's constituencies with as many candidates in attendance as possible. It's traditional that local newspapers run these kinds of debates, giving ordinary people the chance to ask candidates questions in person. Hustings are a crucial part of the democratic process.

The Gazette is a relatively new community newspaper. We officially launched in March 2023 and tested the waters with election coverage in the 2023 local elections and, more recently, the 2024 police and crime commissioner elections. We've done everything to date on a completely voluntary basis and put in our spare time to keep Leicester informed. We're not perfect — but we're passionate and committed to the cause.

Then it came as a big disappointment to see the sitting Labour MP for Leicester West, Liz Kendall, flat out refuse to attend our first hustings — without explanation. This came after several attempts by phone, email and social media to contact her, or her team. Hustings are huge endeavours, requiring a lot of time and resources to get them off the ground. Again, we've been doing all this as volunteers.

Below is a timeline of our repeated attempts to contact Kendall and her team:

  • 31 May, 2pm: We contacted all candidates by email, including Kendall, asking for their evening and weekend availability by Friday, 7 June. We received no response.
Dear Liz,  I’m writing to you from the Great Central Gazette to invite you to a local hustings in the run-up to the general election.  This hustings is being organised by The Gazette in partnership with local groups and organisations. The event will include opening and closing statements from candidates alongside audience questions.  We have invited every candidate standing in your constituency and would like to ensure that all are represented. As an independent and not-for-profit newspaper, we are politically neutral and will ensure that everyone has an equal chance to contribute.  Please let us know your evening and weekend availability for the coming weeks by Friday, 7 June EOD. You can contact us at by replying to this email – we very much look forward to hearing from you soon.  Yours,  Rhys Everquill, Community Lead
  • 31 May, 5:34pm: A quick post to social media to urge candidates to respond after invitations were sent out:
  • 3 June, 10:37pm: We followed up by email. We received no response.
Dear Liz,  I hope you had a weekend? A brief reminder to please let us know your evening and weekend availability by Friday, 7 June EOD.  You can contact us at by replying to this email – we very much look forward to hearing from you soon.  Yours,  Rhys Everquill, Community Lead  Events
  • 4 June, 1:49pm: Another social media post — this time mentioning Kendall directly in the hope she or her team would see it and action the email.
  • 6 June, 10:29am: We called Kendall's team directly. An automated response said her office was closed.
  • 6 June, 12:10pm: Again, we followed up by email. At this point, five candidates had indicated their availability and Monday, 17 June evening time was the most preferred date. We received no response from Kendall.
Dear Liz,  We are looking at Monday, 17 June evening time as a possible date — please could you confirm as soon as possible?  Yours,  Rhys Everquill, Community Lead  Events
  • 6 June, 1:30pm:  Called again. This time, someone picked up and said they would get back to us confirming her availability. We said we need a response no later than our deadline, 7 June. They acknowledged this.
  • 6 June, 4:28pm: Having heard nothing back, we called again, and were hit by an increasingly familiar automated response… Closed.
  • 7 June, 11:49pm: On the day of our deadline, we followed up by email again — and explicitly said we would follow up by phone later that day.
Dear Liz and team,  Please could you confirm you will be attending the hustings on Monday, 17 June evening time?  We have received RSVPs for One Leicester, Reform, Green Party, Liberal Democrats, and TUSC.  I will follow up by phone this afternoon.  Yours,  Rhys    Events
  • 7 June, 12:57pm: We followed up by phone. Closed.
  • 7 June, 1:17pm: We publicly urged Kendall and Conservative candidate, Max Chauhan, to respond:
  • 7 June, 3:10pm: Our deadline was fast approaching, and we needed to start marketing the event over the weekend to make sure people would actually book tickets. We called her office. Closed.
  • 7 June, 3:59pm: We called one final time. Closed.
  • 10 June, 9:15pm: Three days after our deadline, we get this email stating Kendall “isn't able to join the evening” without explanation:
Dear Rhys,  Thank you for your email inviting Liz to the husting. Unfortunately, Liz isn't able to join the evening. I am sorry in the delay in coming back to you on this.  Best wishes, Amanda
  • 11 June, 12:01pm: We respond by email, expressing our disappointment:
Hi Amanda,  I appreciate your reply. However, it's disheartening to learn that Liz, who could potentially make decisions affecting all city residents as an MP, is choosing not to participate in this crucial debate. It's essential for voters to understand each candidate's stance and plans if elected.  Liz's absence denies other candidates the chance to respond, prevents The Gazette from delving deeper with follow-up questions, and leaves unanswered any questions from the audience on the day.  I strongly encourage Liz to reassess her decision and join the debate. Most other candidates have decided to attend. The invitation stands.  Yours,  Rhys Everquill, Community Lead  Events

The Leicester West hustings on Monday, 17 June will still go ahead. We have confirmed candidates from One Leicester, the Green Party, the Liberal Democrats, the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) and Reform UK will be there. It should be a lively debate.

We're incredibly disappointed in the lack of communication from Liz Kendall and her team. The invitation for her to attend is still open — but if she's a no-show, we will be empty chairing her. The same goes for any candidate who fails to show up. This is not a personal attack. It's important for candidates to make themselves available to voters in the run-up to the general election on Thursday, 4 July.

Chauhan has also yet to respond. But in fairness, the Conservative's announced his candidacy much later down the line. We're working hard to confirm his attendance. Likewise, we are doing our best to arrange hustings for Leicester East and Leicester South.

RSVP for the Leicester West hustings

Date/time: Monday, 17 Jun 2024 6:30 pm until 8:00 pm

Location: Church of the Martyrs, Westcotes Drive, Leicester, LE3 0QT

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