Wednesday, July 18

Under the Clock

William Troy MM - Deputy, States of Jersey 1957 Campaign Advert.

As I read the 6 leaflets posted through my letter box today - making a total of 38 for the by-election period - and digested Chris Lloyd's bye-election review in The Northern Echo (the political editor is renowned for his detailed observations) I concluded that Hustings are not what they were but then a lot of things in the political world are not what they were.

The faulty chimes of the tower clock in Newton Aycliffe market proved a backdrop to the closeing efforts of the candidates and their many supporters and well spun messages in the Sedgefield by-election yesterday.

Once upon a time political campaigning consisted of one simple message no spin and one simple leaflet usually delivered by hand to the voters doorstep by the candidate themselves (see image of my Garandfather above). There would be one lively hustings meeting usually held in a community hall in each constituency. At times of by-elections, in the past, hustings meetings were the focus point of the candidates campaigns and many a political career was made or lost in packed vibrant meetings of local voters.

On Monday night I attended a well organised but poorly attended meeting in the Village Hall in Sedgefield. The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) did their best (though notifying the local media would have helped) to fuel proper political debate which was attended by 40 or so, with only one actual local voter, myself !

Some notable comments were made by the three candidates that made the effort to turn up and address the meeting on the stage under an old clock whose hands were frozen at midnight.

UKIP has apparently joined the 'Illegal (Iraq) War' bandwagon; I do not understand how a party that promotes National Sovereignty can reject a unilateral right to go to war. Anyway Toby Horton pointed out that last time he stood for election in Sedgefield (1983) he was pro ''Europe'' and Blair was anti. What a funny old political world.

The Green candidate promoted a basic state communist style citizens allowance payment to all adults regardless of means; apparently they have a team of 10 Economist working on the policy. That will of course mean that 100 different options will be presented to the Green Leadership team. The Green man on the platform made some very unkind comments about the 'engine room' (Businesses) of the UK economy.

Two million calls from the public are unanswered by HM Customs and Revenue per year a union rep told the meeting; strange I thought that so many folk want to talk to a tax person. Perhaps it was a few tenacious tax payers trying to get a rebate.

The Lib Dem candidates trousers and socks appeared to have had an argument judging by their distance apart. Though the 16-1 (William Hill) runner sounded confident and well briefed, clearly a good each way bet.

All three candidates agreed that the constituency was in need of a full time MP; whatever the result it will be a gain to the voters of Sedgefield who in effect have not had a MP for 13 years.

BNP were banned from the meeting (quite rightly so) Labour and Tory Candidate banned themselves (wrongly so). Apparently the Official Loony Candidate got lost which was a pity.

In the Pub afterwards I was asked what I thought about the campaigning I could not resist the retort that ''it could only get better''

Peter Troy

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