South East 2014 European Elections Hustings

Wed, 14 May 2014 18:15 in Discussion Forums

Where: Reading International Solidarity Centre (RISC) - Conference Hall, 35-39 London Street, Reading RG1 4PS
Date: 14th May 2014
Time: 18:15


  • Mrs Catherine Bearder MEP represents Liberal Democrats
  • Mr Keith Taylor MEP represents Green Party
  • Mr Graham Knight MEP Candidate for Conservative Party
  • Mr Matt Rodda MP Candidate for Labour Party
  • Mr Barry Cooper MEP Candidate for UKIP


On 22nd May 2014 British citizens nationwide will cast a vote to elect new Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to fill the 72 seats in the European Parliament reserved for the UK. The UK is an important actor in the European Union. As it seeks to preserve the delicate balances involved in representing the interests of its citizens as part of a complex community of over 500 million Europeans, its involvement in Euro-politics may arguably be characterized as critical engagement. Meanwhile the British government continues to face challenges at home over the question of whether or not the country should stay in the EU.

How essential and effective will the new 72 MEPs representing the UK in the next term of the European Parliament be for British citizens? What effect if any will they have on issues that concern UK communities and society at large? How can MEPs make the elections count and get the electoral to vote? What effect can small faith and/or ethnic communities have on the outcome of the elections? In short, why should we vote for MEPs?

Biography of Catherine Bearder

Catherine is known all over the south east region as a passionate campaigner and hard-working activist. A former local government councillor and development officer in major national charities, she has a long record of fighting for local people and the issues that concern them. Catherine is working to get environmental protection core to European policy, not just an 'add on'. She is President of the Green Liberal Democrats and is proud to champion of environmental issues in the European Parliament. She has fought to protect elephants from the catastrophic rates of poaching, and is fighting to stamp out the trade in wild caught animals for the pet trade.

She also campaigns on social justice and rural issues and increased participation of young people in politics. She has a particular interest in the vile trade that is human trafficking.

Catherine is a staunch supporter of the European ideal, but unafraid to challenge the realities of the EU when they don't meet that ideal. As Director of Campaigns for Britain in Europe in our region, she worked to highlight the massive economic benefits of EU membership.

Catherine is one of two Liberal Democrat MEPs that represents the South East region in the European Parliament. She is a member of the Parliament's Committee on Regional Development, Committee on International Trade and a substitute member of the Transport committee. She is also a member of the Parliament's delegation to the Joint Parliamentary Assembly between the EU and the ACP (Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Regions) which requires working with representatives from some of the poorest countries on the planet.

Catherine is married to Simon, Emeritus professor at Brookes University. They have lived in Oxfordshire for over 25 years and raised three sons who all attended local schools and who now play active roles in their own communities.

Biography of Keith Taylor

Keith Taylor is the Green MEP for the South East of England. In his role as an MEP, Keith sits on the European Parliament’s Committee on Transport and Tourism, and the Committee on Development. He also sits on the Committee on Petitions which gives EU citizens the opportunity to challenge the EU on how laws are being implemented in EU member states.

Keith is a member of the European Parliament’s delegation to the Palestinian Legislative Council which works to forge greater links between MEPs and parliamentarians in Palestine.

Keith is also Vice President of the UK’s Local Government Association Group in the European Parliament and a member of the parliament’s Intergroups on LGBT Rights and animal welfare.

Biography of Graham Knight

Mr Graham Knight is the prospective Conservative MEP for South East England. He was born in Croydon, South London. He studied French at Exeter University. He worked in Financial Services Industry in Europe, Africa and the UK. Graham is a partner in a corporate search firm and an investor in a tour operator as well as oilfield technology operation.

Graham has worked as a ward councillor for Horley East, Reigate and Banstead. And he is the Vice-Chairman of East Surrey Conservative Association.

Graham and his partner Jan, work hard to raise funds and awareness for children’s charities, both inside and outside of the UK. He has lived in Horley, East Surrey since 2006. His two daughters both study in the United States.

Biography of Matt Rodda

Matt is Labour Party parliamentary candidate for Reading East. He is a former civil servant in the Department for Education and now works as a manager for charities. He was elected as the Labour councillor for Katesgrove ward in 2011 and has led a number of community campaigns, including saving a centre for disabled adults from closure and successfully campaigning against the privatisation of a doctors’ surgery.

Matt is campaigning against the Government’s mismanagement of the economy and public services like the NHS. He is calling for a proper stimulus to create jobs and prosperity and for the Government to help protect services and run them more effectively by integrating care, working with families and professionals.

Matt lives in Reading East and is married with two children at state school in Reading.

Biography Barry Cooper

Barry Cooper was born in Zimbabwe in 1977. His first period of UK residence was between 1978 and 1985 – he has been a naturalised British subject since 1983. He lived in Zimbabwe between 1985 and 1994, at which point he left for the United States to do his undergraduate degree in history. He settled permanently in the UK in 1999, and lives in Buckinghamshire with his wife and two young daughters.

Professionally, He worked in television production for two years before entering retail, and has worked at the luxury end of the bedroom furniture market for the last twelve years. He received an MA in Imperialism and Culture (history) via distance learning in 2011.

In addition to his current position as an MEP candidate for the South East Region, he stood as the UKIP candidate in the Police and Crime Commissioner elections (Thames Valley) in 2012, in the County Council elections in May 2013, currently serves as the UKIP County Chairman for Buckinghamshire and has recently been selected as the UKIP PPC for Henley in Oxfordshire.


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