miscellany

30 november 2019

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Ian McLauchlin

EXMOUTH GENERAL ELECTION HUSTINGS Nov 2019

Went to a General Election Hustings last night with Cate. She's one of Claire Wright's (Independent Candidate and good) hard working elves. It was in the Exmouth Community College's Main Hall, where prizes are usually handed out, but not for election candidates.

It was a ticket only affair. You can't have just any member of the public attending, especially any who's been deliberately downtrodden, as they might have a stake in not being deliberately downtrodden.

They searched our bags going in. Looking for weapons? Nah, looking for banners and the like. They turned my bumbag inside out looking for banners and the like . . .

We must have been early as we waited hours for the meeting to start. It was sponsored by The Exmouth Journal among others. They'd distributed copies of the latest issue liberally, no generously, around the room. So that was something to read.

Doris had been at Dart's Farm earlier. It was on the local TV news. Not announced. Nobody knew. That's the way they like it. They'd like to hide him away with Reet-Smug but they're afraid they'd breed so they do the next best thing and keep his location and itinerary secret.

The entire hustings performance was stage managed and the cameras were out in force. No heckling, no shouting, no BANNERS, no thinking, no remembering, especially of the performance of one of the candidate's party in government for the last nine years. We have Security, handcuffs and dogs they said. (There may only have been one of those three.) We were warned, seriously warned. If we didn’t behave we’d be thrown out and the whole hustings risked being shut down. That’s democracy. Well the sort of democracy that we now have, created by  . . .  the people in power. Everyone must do as they’re told. No dissent, no objections when fed with a host of blatant lies. We must be supine because they think they’re superior and they despise us. Well they’re not. If everybody had done as they were told in the past, there would have been no progress. Play the game everyone, play the already-loaded-against-you game. We’re residents of East Devon, not some violent yobs!

The format was strict too. A couple of chairmen, who took it in turns when one had a dry throat and the other didn't. There were candidates and microphones with a rough correlation of numbers. Independent (Hurrah), Green - a farmer, Liberal -not a farmer, Labour - good but can't win, not in East Devon, and finally, as befits his lowly status, A Tory. Not just any tory but the most lowly sneering arrogant lying tory that they could dig up. There were lots to choose from . . . . He was dire and lied barefacedly and blatantly. He had no shame, but they don't, do they. He must have heard rumblings of dissent from where we were sitting and kept glancing our way. I stared him out and he had to look away.

Each one gave a short speech in turn. Guess which one was full of lies . . . Then there were questions. No not just any questions. Only questions that had been submitted over a year ago, been vetted by GCHQ, returned for redrafting, resubmitted and finally approved. Except the tory ones. They were submitted on the night and marked with luminous highlighter.

The rest was unremarkable. Every candidate gave their answers and mostly avoided being too beastly to the tory, though food banks, homelessness, poverty, falling numbers of doctors and nurses, education starved of funds (we were in a school after all), Universal Credit, cruelty, UN Reports of third world nature of a rich country were touched on. The labour candidate thrust a few verbal stillettos the tory's way like "Houses, we used to build them . . . ." It was also mentioned that the previous MP, another tory manchild, had done nothing for the constituency over 19 years. But nothing shook the arrogance and self belief of the tory candidate. We tried. I couldn't help saying "Rubbish, all lies" under my breath, and this became louder and louder. Cate was doing the same. Eventually the lies became so blatant that Cate shouted the words out. Tory manchild became rattled and said "Don't heckle it's quite rude" Or something. It was drowned out by the cheering and clapping for Cate. He lost his cool and looked silly. RESULT !

Afterwards, all the elves, plus me, went for a post-hustings chat to The Grapevine pub. They were nice people and one had recently visited a friend in Stroud, Glos, near where I used to live. She liked it. A bit Totnes-ish but more welcoming. Another was a journalist who wrote excellent articles and was sympathetic to the cause. Who wouldn't be when the opposition was so arrogant, sneering, supercilious and blatantly dishonest?


Here’s a link to another write-up of this:

https://inews.co.uk/news/politics/general-election-2019-disgruntled-conservative-party-voting-east-devon-claire-wright-1328557