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Monday, 03 May 2010
Oxted Election Hustings

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Westminster is sometimes called the mother of all Parliaments, presumably because it was exported (with colonialism) to various other countries. However, as any geek knows it is not the oldest parliament in the world and the United Kingdom is not the oldest democracy.  In the lifetime of my own grandparents: the franchise was extended to all men over 21 (in 1918), the franchise was extended to all women over 21 (in 1928), wealthy people were restricted to only one vote (in 1948), and the vote was extended to all aged 18 and over (in 1969). Only a few years ago (in 2006) it became legal for an 18 year old to stand as a member of parliament. Today we still have an unelected House of Lords and a Monarchy with unelected powers.

It was with these thoughts in mind that I made my way to the general election hustings at the Oxted Community Hall on Saturday 1 May 2010, to listen to the following candidates: Sam Gyimah (Conservative); Martin Hogbin (Monster Raving Loony Party); David Lee (Liberal Democrats); Sandy Pratt (Independent Conservative); Matt Rodda (Labour); Helena Windsor (UK Independence Party) who are standing in the East Surrey constituency. The photograph above gives an indication of the average age of the audience, who packed the hall. Everyone was given a polite clap. Extra applause was awarded for mentions of things like: our nasty overlords in Brussels, our cherished British way of life, the need to control immigration and to introduce English-language tests, the need to scrap health and safety legislation (that is shackling our cherished British institutions such as the boy scouts and local businesses), and the need to reduce national government (and government waste).

Here are just a few highlights:

Personally I didn’t find any of the candidates particularly impressive. My neighbour remarked to me at the end of the meeting that the only two candidates who came across as “straight-and-honest” (“you have to respect the way they spoke, even if you don’t agree with what they said”) were David and Matt.  Of course neither of the two are natural representatives of this constituency, and it will be a huge shock in East Surrey if anyone other than Sam wins the election.

I thought the chair did a reasonable job. The format of the meeting however was frustrating, since all questions had to be submitted in advance. The highlight of the meeting for me was when a young man standing at the side heckled one of the candidates. The chair pointed out that all questions had to be submitted and vetted before the meeting by the meeting organisers. The young man shouted back that this was undemocratic and meant that questions were restricted to a select group (who knew how to submit questions in advance). “When will I get a chance?”, he added to applause. Maybe next election, replied the chair, who did (at the end of the meeting) allow one respectable and elderly gentleman, who was known to the chair, to ask a question on the economy.  He explained this by stating that there had been no questions submitted on the economy.  This in itself is a revealing statement, if not on Oxted as a whole, then about the organisers.

Posted by bigblue on 03/05/2010 at 06:46 PM
Filed under: EuropeUnited KingdomEngland • (2) CommentsPermalinkBookmark or Share
Building sites

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Something that struck me while in Brussels recently is the amount of building work going on. Some of it looked like it had been around for some time, and was in no hurry to go anywhere.

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Posted by bigblue on 03/05/2010 at 08:46 AM
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Sunday, 02 May 2010
Caution - duck

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As seen in the countryside near Oxted recently.

Posted by bigblue on 02/05/2010 at 05:42 PM
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Saturday, 01 May 2010
The fox of Brussels

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This is a five-story graffito by street artist Bonom, which is described by Trendhunter as a:

display in Brussels that is not only impressive for its style, but for its size! The falling fox wall art by Bonom covers the length of at least a few storeys of the Brussels building, and shows the speed of the fox’s drop.

I’m trying to figure out how Bonom managed to pull off this piece of art work, but either way, the falling fox is a great way to add some fun to an otherwise grey and basic building.

Trendhunter also has a few photos of the fox.

Posted by bigblue on 01/05/2010 at 05:09 PM
Filed under: EuropeBelgium • (0) CommentsPermalinkBookmark or Share
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