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Monday, 03 May 2010
Oxted Election Hustings


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

Did anyone mention the Iraq War? The Afghanistan War?
And Labour may have introduced the Human Rights Act, but also wanted to introduce 80-day detention—did they say anthing about that?

Posted by SteveH  on  05/05/2010  at  05:51 PM

None of those issues came up. The closest anyone gets to criticising the war/s these days is to say that our government is not giving our “brave troops” the equipment they need “to do the job”, so the political consensus is against questioning “the job” in the first place.

Posted by bigblue  on  09/05/2010  at  05:50 PM

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