Sunday, 26 April 2015

Bollington Hustings

This event was held in the Civic Hall and took place in the Macclesfield constituency - a safe Tory seat with a majority of over 12,000. It was chaired by Peter Sissons (yes, that Peter Sissons, once of Question Time fame). As people arrived they were asked to write a question for the panel to consider.
Another 150+ people filled the venue with a few younger people present among the middle aged and elderly. 
Candidates: Tim Roca (Lab); David Rutley (Con) current MP; Neil Christian (LibDem); Adrian Howard (UKIP); Joan Plimmer (Green)
Each question was asked by the person who wrote it. This immediately linked the panel with the constituents. Sissons did a splendid job of chairing the event. There was quite an emphasis on local issues - bad planning schemes in Macclesfield and Bollington. AH for UKIP was strong on local issues and quite clearly pinned the blame for all the problems on having a Tory Council. DR became less smooth and urbane as the evening progressed as he had to defend his actions locally and his party’s policies nationally. He withdrew gradually and contributed less and less. He was completely overshadowed by TR for Labour, who was the stand out performer on the night. Charming, warm and witty, he was an excellent communicator and was knowledgeable to boot. For him to win would take a real upheaval - the LibDem vote to collapse along with the Green vote, with UKIP taking a good chunk of old Tory votes.
Sadly the Green was another not presently suited to the role. She was hesitant and relied too much on reading her notes. The chairman sat to one side of the candidates and the Green candidate replied directly to him ignoring the 140+ sitting to his left. A basic error. The LibDem guy was largely safe, sound and dull. He was a barrister and strangely uninspiring. The question of Libya and the boat people provided a really bad moment for Mr UKIP. His callous opening response produced shouts of anger from the assembled. He tried to row back later but the damage had been done. 
At the close, Peter Sissons was warmly applauded by the crowd and Tim Roca was surrounded by well-wishers offering their congratulations and thanks. People bubbled happily out into the night feeling they had been engaged and not passive observers (cf New Mills).

One odd fact. David Rutley is the only Mormon in the House of Commons. So what you may say. Mormons share a lot of Christian beliefs but - and it is quite a massive but - they also follow the Book of Mormon, “another testament of Jesus Christ” received by founder Joseph Smith and published in 1830. Smith claimed that he “received divine direction” to translate the metal plates “he found buried near his home”. Oh. Right. 
Two Green candidates have now been seen. Despite being clearly decent people they were way out of their depth in this arena. So much so it was felt they could have actually lost potential Green votes. Bumping into a couple of long term Greens near home they said the party had decided to try to get candidates in as many seats as possible. The potential candidates need support and training in how best to cope in a potentially hostile and challenging situation. Just being decent is not enough. Politics is a dirty business and the ability to think on your feet and deliver a killer comment may not suit some.

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