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Parliamentary Candidates Pitch for Voters at Wincanton Hustings

Saturday 25 April 2015, 19:39
By John Smith

The packed Wincanton Memorial Hall, for the parliamentary hustings of April 2015

On Friday 17th April the Wincanton Chamber of Commerce staged the final election hustings in the Wincanton Memorial Hall. By 7.15pm on the evening, all fears of a low turnout for the parliamentary hustings were blown away. The hall filled rapidly, and there was a danger of standing room only. The audience was buzzing with expectation.

Candidates attending:

UKIP Alan Ivor Dimmick
Labour David Alan Oakensen
Liberal Democrat David Digby Rendel
Green Party Theo Simon
Conservative David John Warburton

Independent candidate Ian Angell was unable to attend the husting, but sent a letter of apology and a statement as to why he was standing for election.

Chairman of ceremonies for the evening was King Arthur’s Head Teacher – Chris Beech. History suggests that passions would run high, with all the candidates fighting hard to gain a majority vote in this key constituency (Somerton & Frome).

This constituency is viewed as a high priority seat by the two main parties, who have a chance to form a majority government in Westminster. So the ingredients were in place for an interesting event. Election media coverage shows contestants fighting tooth and nail, not holding back, in the battle for power. It seemed like Chris would have to manifest great skill to keep the candidates under control.

The Chamber asked for questions to be submitted in advance, and by the evening of the hustings more than 20 pertinent questions had been submitted. On the night this tally exploded as audience members submitted questions as they arrived at the hall. So straight away chairman Chris Beech had the unenviable task of deciding which questions to ask and which to withhold. Time would only permit around six questions. With that in mind the Chamber confirmed that all the questions would be sent to the candidates, with a request for written replies to be published on the Wincanton Window.

Cunning use of this bell controlled the candidates

Chris set the pace by pulling all the candidates aside to brief them on the format for the evening. Each candidate would be given just two minutes to answer each question, and at the end of the evening they would each be allowed to give their own two minute party political broadcast. The two minute limitation proved to be an excellent rule, forcing the candidates to be clear and concise. Event time keeper Penny Ashton performed a valuable service to all by ringing a bell as a 20 second warning to complete their answers.

With the debating over, candidates and many audience members lingered, entering into multiple discussions. All comments by existing audience members were positive, stating that the overall event was helpful and well run. They were pleased that the candidates had been well behaved and put over clear, concise answers to questions (whether they agreed with the answers or not).

The Wincanton Chamber would like to thank everyone who helped in the running of this event. A big thank you to Chris Beech who was an excellent Chairman for the evening. Thanks to Brian Sales who helped set up the hall, and very kindly supplied the sound system for the evening.

After the event a brolly was handed in. So if you, or someone you know is missing a brolly, please ring 01963 34327 and be prepared to describe it.


Posts: 1
Why Have We Had a Coalition?
Reply #1 on : Mon April 27, 2015, 15:43:18
Congratulations to John Smith and Penny Ashton on organising and Chris Beech on chairing an excellent hustings. It gave us a fine opportunity to hear the views and react to the personalities of the candidates.

The question I would have liked to ask was, “Do people remember why the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives went into a coalition?” I have found people do not.

My answer is for the Liberal Democrats going into coalition was certainly not done for party advantage, but for the country. This was because both LDs and the Conservatives saw we were on the edge of financial melt-down. We faced ending up where Greece still is today, bankrupt, with terrifying inflation and tragically high unemployment.

Instead our economy has remained stable with some growth, little inflation and employment at an all time high - even as the deficit is being reduced – though slowly.

The coalition has delivered five years of remarkably stable, responsible government while the world has floundered and the Liberal Democrats have restrained as much as possible the Conservative tendency to favour the better off while promoting many measures like raising the income tax threshold and the pupil premium in schools etc., etc., i.e. working for a stronger economy and a fairer society.

Is it not the case that the likely alternatives now are between a weak Labour administration propped up in an unstable SNP alliance that could spook the markets and set us off to join Greece as interest rates soar, the pound slides and the deficit goes out of control or a Conservative Party ready to make huge as yet undisclosed cuts in services while spooking business and the US about our role in Europe?

The best option again it strikes me would be a new proper coalition with the Liberal Democrats to give us a fair, stable government determined to properly reduce the deficit. This is why we need more Liberal Democrat seats and David Rendel here.
Last Edit: April 28, 2015, 08:29:18 by johnbaxter  
Penny Ashton
Posts: 1
Credit where it is due!
Reply #2 on : Tue April 28, 2015, 09:16:44
Thanks for including me in your comment John, but John Smith did all the hard work, and Chris Beech kept good order on the night. They are the ones who deserve the credit. I just turned up and rang the bell!

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