One of my photos

Hustings #1

April 30th, 2010 · Posted by Skuds in Politics · No Comments · Politics

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Yesterday we had the first hustings of the election which, at just seven days before election day, is maybe a bit later than normal to be starting this sort of thing.

Not only was it the first one of this election in Horsham but the first one I have ever done myself.Not only was this the first hustings I have been to as a candidate, but I haven’t been to any even as a member of the audience before, except for the no2id thing in Crawley last month, and that was more of a single-issue event, so I won’t pretend I wasn’t a little nervous.

There is plenty of talk about this being the first TV election or the first internet election, but despite all that the old-fashioned things like hustings, leaflets, street stalls and knocking on doors still goes on and I don’t think anybody would like to see that change.

All Saints church in Crawley Down

The event was at All Saints church in Crawley Down, a pleasant little church in a village that I’m sure a lot of people would not think of as part of Horsham constituency.

It is a bit of an anomaly because the Horsham constituency does not cover exactly the same area as Horsham district, so it has a different council.   It must make being the MP a bit more tricky compared to somewhere like Crawley because you have to deal with three different councils.  Or is it four now?

Fortunately there were a few people I knew, though it was still a bit daunting having to stand up and address about fifty people – not a bad turnout considering the leaders’ debate was on TV at the time.

As I said though, that only had three people answering the questions – we had five so we were 66% better!

There are eight candidates in Horsham, but only five could make it: me, Godfrey Newman from the Lib Dems, Francis Maude from the Tories, Jim Duggan of the Peace party and Harry Aldridge from UKIP.

The vicar had collected questions in advance, printed them all out, and left a copy on the table for us, which was nice of him.  Before it all kicked off I could see all the others leafing through their manifestos to see what to refer to in their answers.  I left mine in my bag, deciding to just say what I thought and keep my fingers crossed that it wouldn’t stray too far from Labour’s official policy…

In the end very few of those questions were asked, which was a bit of a shame because there were a couple I would have enjoyed having a go at.

It all seemed to go OK and got quite lively at one point when a very angry man was trying to get Francis Maude to admit to MPs having some sort of obligation to set a moral example to the rest of us and kept objecting to his answers about expenses. Godfrey and I enjoyed that bit.

The imposing west wall of the church

I think there must be something self-destructive in my nature because I didn’t really prepare.  Godfrey even had a speech written out for his opening remarks, but I just went for whatever popped into my head.  I can’t even claim it was off the cuff because I didn’t have any cuffs, preferring to wear short sleeved shirts.

Personally I think I cocked up a few of the answers.  Every time I sat down my mind was suddenly filled with what I should have said, but I kept telling myself that maybe it came across better than it felt to me.

I used to find that with acting. Sometimes I would be very nervous and felt that everybody would be able to see me shaking and hear it in my voice, but then afterwards people would say how confident I looked.

Despite everything I quite enjoyed it.  It is a pity there were only fifty people there and that it was so late in the campaign. The local papers all come out on a Friday, so the next edition that could report on it doesn’t hit the streets until the day after election day when nobody will care – hence the total absence of reporters there.

On the plus side, it did take the edge off the anxiety, not having to worry about what the papers say.

One down, two to go.

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