Another one of our previous guests, Rev Shuna Dicks, returns looking for some advice about participatory democracy (you see how this links in to some of the posts we’re done recently?).  Please be nice – and constructive!

As part of my role as convenor of a sub-committee of Presbytery (a local gathering of clergy and elders of the Church of Scotland – one of its ‘Courts’) I have been asked to consider organising a hustings in the run up to the Scottish Parliamentary Elections.

The committee I convene is ‘Church & Community’ and so far this year we have been pretty focussed on events surrounding the two air bases within the bounds of the Presbytery of Moray – the hot political topic for the area at the moment. The future of the bases is a defence issue, which is a reserved matter. But the impact of any closures (I am reminded that RAF Kinloss has not closed and will not be fully closed and that there will still be some work happening at and from the base) will have a dramatic effect on the local economy, schools, support services etc – all devolved matters. This will obviously have an impact on campaigning for the election.

The Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office has produced a good paper on how to plan such events and I have been studying this in order to get some advice as to how to go about running such an event. As well as a traditional Hustings (a panel with questions from the floor) they give the suggestion of a ‘Speed hustings’ and ‘virtual hustings’ both of which I like. The Speed Hustings give people in small groups a chance to quiz individual candidates for a set amount of time before the candidate moves on to another group. Each candidate then is given a short amount of time at the close to say a few words.  The virtual Hustings suggests issuing each candidate with a set of questions to answer in writing by a certain date and then simply publish the answers.

This is where I would like your help – what questions as a faith community should the churches be asking of the candidates?

Also – just out of curiosity, are hustings meetings still relevant in 2011?