Opinionated voters heckled and applauded Melksham and Devizes candidates at a recent hustings, during which a total of 83 questions were submitted by the audience.

Residents challenged Conservative Michelle Donelan, Liberal Democrat Brian Mathew, Labour candidate Kerry Postlewhite, Green candidate Catherine Read, and Reform candidate Malcolm Cupis at a hustings on Monday, June 17, at Devizes School.

Although all candidates were treated to some applause, the Conservative and Reform candidates also had to endure their fair share of heckling.

 The host praised the audience as fantastic at the end of the event.The host praised the audience as fantastic at the end of the event. (Image: Jessica Moriarty)

Among the comments that generated the most anger were Mr Cupis’ remarks on multiculturalism and the environment.

He claimed that a “multicultural society” is causing people to live in a “virtual apartheid system.”

Referring to Reform’s manifesto, Mr Cupis said: “We would do away with net zero because of the cost of it.”

Ms Donelan’s critique of the Labour-led Welsh NHS also prompted some outbursts from the audience.

Ms Donelan said: “Labour are running the NHS in Wales where we have the highest waiting times in the United Kingdom.”

An audience member shouted at her: “40 hospitals were promised, where are they?”

Nevertheless, the pair also received praise for their responses to other questions, such as Ms Donelan’s work on online safety and Mr Cupis’ push for a local general hospital.

Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrat candidate faced laughter as he misplaced the notes he needed to answer a question about the economy.

Mr Mathew admitted: “I feel a bit like Boris Johnson, but anyway there you go – I can’t find my notes.”

Despite this, he garnered the support of some of the audience through the Lib Dem proposals for issues such as tackling poverty.

Whilst the Labour party candidate, Ms Postlewhite, often struggled to stick to her time limit, the Green Party candidate, Ms Read, sometimes appeared to have the opposite problem.

Both candidates received audience support for stances such as Ms Postlewhite’s attention to the younger generation’s mental health crisis and Ms Read’s focus on the climate emergency.

Mr Cupis said: “The established political parties in this country all occupy pretty much the same ground and voting for them means that what you are voting for effectively is more of what has made you unhappy.”

He added: “I’m a genuinely local person, I’m not a politician.

“I’m doing this because I’m fed up with politicians and politics like you are.”

Ms Donelan stated: “What I’ve tried to do over the last nine years as a member of parliament is prioritising being visible, accessible and also approachable.”

She also said: “I entered politics to create opportunities and open doors, my real passion is education, which I think is the true lever of social mobility.”

Mr Mathew said: “Our country is crying out for change and it’s not hard to see why.”

He added: “A vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote for a strong local champion, a vote for a fair deal, a vote to deliver the change that we all so desperately need.”

Ms Postlewhite stated: “If you lend Labour your vote this time in a once-in-a-generation election, you can vote for a Labour MP who will be working at the heart of the Labour government, focused on growing and stabilising the economy, on cutting NHS waiting times, on getting secure borders, on getting clean Great British energy and teachers in our schools.”

Ms Read said: “I’m here tonight because I want to protect my grandchildren’s future.

“I’ve seen how quickly the climate crisis is accelerating.”

She also stated: “I want to build a fair Britain, one that values people and the environment first, where health and happiness and wellbeing are priorities.”

The latest prediction on Electoral Calculus suggests a Conservative victory in Melksham and Devizes on July 4.