Monday, 26 April 2010

At the hustings

There is nothing better for the democratic process than watching your local parliamentary candidate squirm. Failing legalised use of tasers, the best way to do this is go to a public meeting and ask awkward questions.
Last week, I attended my first husting. These are often held in churches, possibly because they share the church’s shared high ideals or simply that they’re cheap to hire. The location caused me a minor problem; architectural monuments to superstition all look the same to me and I’ve never taken the trouble to learn the names of any of them.
There was a good crowd of people in attendance, together with four election candidates and a chairperson. It was a bit like Question Time but without the token rabid national newspaper columnist on the panel. The audience was very polite and orderly. No political firebrands here. If Thomas Paine had lived in South Lakes, Rights of Man wouldn’t have got written; he'd have been too busy sending letters to newspapers about parking and dog dirt.
There were some splendid questions, although none I’d hoped for (e.g. “why should we let you lot back in after you made such an appalling cock-up of flogging off the railways?”). The candidates generally handled the questions well but I was encouraged to note that the UKIP chap displayed a tendency to go off at tangents and blame everything on the EU. 
The candidates’ statements could be summarised as follows: 

Tim Farron (LibDem) promised to "work his socks off" (thereby conforming to the Liberal stereotype of sandals), Gareth McGareth (Conservative) stated that if he didn’t get into parliament “there is no plan B, I’m fighting to win” (he may need to reconsider that given the decline in the banking industry since he left), Jonathan Whatsit (Labour) declared unqualified love and adoration for everything in the Labour Manifesto and the bloke from UKIP advanced the startling theory that global warming is a conspiracy and we actually need more CO2 in the atmosphere because it’s good for the plants.
Disappointingly, we only have four election candidates this time round. Gone are the heady days of 2005 when there was a wild card banging on about Windermere speed limits and allowing smoking in pubs. This time even the Campaign for Real Liberals has failed to emerge from its burrow and the rumoured BNP candidate is probably abroad somewhere, getting a nice tan.
So how are the remaining candidates performing on the Grin-o-Meter?

LibDems and Conservatives are still in the lead but Labour has put in an appearance (on the basis that a leaflet has been thrust through my door). UKIP’s presence, so far, is limited to belching CO2 and hot air.
Nine days to go. Can it get any more exciting?

No comments:

Post a Comment