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Melksham Hustings at George Ward School

Candidates for Chippenham seat at hustings at George WardFor the first time in my life, I attended election hustings last night in Melksham - at George Ward School, where six of the eight candidates for MP in the Chippenham Constituency gave a three minute intro to themselves and their policies, then answered for a minute each on pre-selected questions from the audience. As the evening was organised by the Melksham Family of Churches, I suppose it was natural to top and tail it with prayers, for candidates (all, as I recall) to profess their Christiannity, and for prolife / family type questions to dominate.

So how did it go? Well - it was interesting that the three minute intro slot was used by one candidate to tell us what his party was NOT about, that the final two candidates had chosen not to attend as they would not share the platform with another candidate who was there, and that one candidate took an element of his time to tell us why he was there. The audience and the organisers were very supportive of the decision / their decision to invite all legally standing candidates, and personally I now know a lot more about the policies, personalities and performance in public of these eight people who want to be my representative than I do the other two.

I took notes - such a pile of notes that the two young ladies seated behind me asked which paper I reported for afterwards. "None - it just helps me to take things in and remember later, should I wish / need to do so." But actually I go away from the evening having heard some interesting views, having had it confirmed that the views of certain parties are very much the opposite of mine, and having come to the obvious (when you think of it) conclusion that the larger parties [who were there] have the bigger pool of potential MPs to choose from, so come up with the better candidates.

The evening was polite, was civil, and brought some agreements. "I agree with Xxx". "I should be wearing a I support Xxxxxx on this" T Shirt. It wasn't raised (that I can recall), but our first past the post system leads me to think that - between two of the candidates who seemed to both be saying this - they should have pooled their parties rather than dilute the vote. I was left with the thought that the election in this constituency could end up being decided against one of them by even a quite small number of votes for the other. What an intersting situation that the evening, and perhaps even the result here, seem so coloured and affected by two minor parties, one at each extreme.

Picture - from Left to right - Sam Fletcher, Jon Maguire, Mick Simpkins, Chair, Richard Sexton, Duncan Hames and Julia Reid. See [here] for full candidate list, party affiliations, etc.


(written 2010-04-26)

 
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