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Ordure, ordure!

Ordure, ordure!

🕔07.May 2015

As the polls enter their final four hours, the Special Agent submits his musings from the hustings.


The word rang clear above the general hubbub and the chairman waved his hands in mild exasperation.

We can’t broadcast that. We’ll have to go again. I said at the beginning, it’s great to be lively. But we can’t do coarseness. Or worse.

Heavy glowering at the offending corner of the room.

So, the campaign finally went public and the local radio station was taping a question and answer session with all of the candidates in front of a live audience (interesting expression, that – the alternative is a bit macabre to say the least).

The fact that the event was taking place in a pub may have contributed to the high spirits of the participants, even though they had taken the precaution of scheduling the recording for 7.00pm rather than any later in the evening.

Some of audience were clearly close students of the exacting debating standards set by Prime Minister’s Questions and felt obliged to provide their own unruly running commentary to the formal debate. Others, having spent years engaging in furious – if one sided – debates with their TV screens are somewhat lightheaded having real flesh and blood politicians in front of them on whom they can finally vent a lifetime of frustration. Hence, no doubt, the outburst that so aggrieved the radio presenter. He began, perhaps, to feel some small sympathy for John Bercow.

One of the candidate participants – a rather timorous soul clearly – tweeted afterwards, rather sourly, a reference to the rowdiness of the audience. He should be so lucky.

The great public meeting was once the lifeblood of political activity – in the most extreme case, even a blood sport. A hundred years or so ago, Lloyd George came to speak at Birmingham Town Hall in opposition to Joseph Chamberlain’s ‘war mongering’ and alleged profiteering from the conflict South Africa. (And, yes, that is the very selfsame Chamberlain celebrated in the title of this august blogsite.) An enraged crowd prevented Lloyd George from speaking at all; he had to be smuggled out of the Town Hall disguised as a policeman and tragically a man died in the course of the ensuing melee.

The next night found me at another hustings event. This time, one of a series organised by local churches. It was a much less excitable event. Perhaps the livelier elements of the audience were cowed just a little by the ecclesiastical environment (and probably the church authorities had the altar wine safely under lock and key).

In fact – and this was the case the previous evening – the candidates themselves were all eminently reasonable and well mannered. Which is all a bit frustrating for someone who was really only there in the hope that he could have generated some smart-alec observations about their attitudes and performance. It was very annoying. How dare they?

On the next night yet another hustings. Will I ever get a life? On this occasion the late selection of our candidate meant that he simply could not attend. A substitute is required. Who else but the eager agent. (Does that make me a huster or a hustee?). It’s ‘A Star is Born’ all over again. I had visions of myself at the close being carried shoulder high through the hall by a rapturous crowd this time intoxicated by nothing more than my oratory. Or maybe not.

Getting even more up close and personal with the candidates, on their side of the table, what I thought was rather telling was that none of the candidates seemed interested in making anything of their wider or life experience as any part of the case for actually voting for them. I know, because I bothered to look it up, that in fact there was a wealth of experience in healthcare, education and finance alongside me – but none of them seemed inclined to provide this as evidence of any unique perspective this provides them with on present issues.

What we did get – for the third night in a row – was another couple of hours of fairly slavish repetition of party slogans and well-rehearsed solutions. Clearly the aspiration of this lot is to appear as word perfect (and imagination-drained) as the various party leaders with their (relatively brief) lives pretty exclusively devoted to politicking. I can’t help but think that as a result these candidates are short-changing both themselves and us, the voters.

This all goes to make me regret, more than a little, the fact that there was no one in the list of candidates who has any sort of background in agriculture. Because, at least then, you would have someone who could deal with, in a wholly practical and experienced manner, the bullshit.

Which is where we came in….

Pic: ITV Leader Debate

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