Solely Carl Benjamin, also known as “Sargon of Akkad”, was in attendance.
Members of the disgruntled UWE Debating Society, self-styling as “Not UWE Debating Society”, defied the University of the West of England’s (UWE) decision to cancel their planned EU hustings today by hosting their own hustings in a privately rented conference room at the Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel.
As the event was organized by an independent group of students, the society’s funds could not be used, hotel bookings and other expenses were payed for out-of-pocket by the group of students.
Derya Khalilpour, president of the UWE Debating Society, reiterated that the correct procedure was followed for the organization of the original event.
All candidates were invited, except for Greens to avoid leaks, but most dropped out after the official event was cancelled, leading only Benjamin to remain. The organizers of the event chose to ’empty-chair’ the absent candidates.
Khalilpour expressed regret towards the choice of Green candidate Carla Denyer to leak the unannounced proposed speakers, including Benjamin, and to encourage others to boycott the hustings, saying “If she believes the propagation of the views that Carl holds would be detrimental to society then by dropping out she has given him a larger platform”.
Khalilpour said he believes that hosting Benjamin as the only candidate is the “right thing to do” as he is the “only candidate remaining”, even if it means he will face “some criticism for platforming [him]”.
The event began with Khalilpour making clear that the event is not associated with UWE or the Debating Society.