An Update From the Hustings or Do You Know the One About the Turnip Hoer?On election day, I’ll have a choice of six candidates: three from the major parties (Conservative/Tory, Labour, and LibDem), one from UKIP (the UK Independence Party, which wants a metaphorical English Channel set up to separate us from the regulations of the European Union), and two from parties I’d never heard of before this election: the UK Peace party and the Magna Carta Conservation party. They all invited voters to hear them speak at John the Baptist Church in West Byfleet on Sunday.
That is, five of them did—one candidate didn’t make it. She is one of only three candidates in the country standing for election from the UK Peace party, which wants to disband all armies and do away with all border controls so as to allow everyone in the world to travel freely anywhere they want to go. All three are standing in Surrey constituencies, so I seem to be at the epicenter of their political project and can keep you informed if the border barriers begin to fall.
As for the three main parties (Tory/Conservative, Labour, and LibDem) the UKIP candidate suggested it would be “difficult to get a very thin cigarette paper between them”. That’s a common phrase over here to indicate that things are alike, although it more usually takes the form “you can’t get a fag paper between them”. (US readers: a fag is a cigarette.) You can hear that wording in the interview with King Arthur, mentioned below.
I wouldn’t agree that the three parties are all the same, though it seems clear that all three are thinking about what they can do in the next few months by starting from where we are now, rather than skipping straight to a utopian vision as, say, the UK Peace party seems to do. Starting with small steps away from the status quo restricts the options—which is exactly why the smaller parties reject that approach—and so guarantees some overlap in the policies of the Big Three.
The candidate from the Magna Carta Conservation Party of Great Britain, Ruth Temple, is the only candidate nominated from her party anywhere in the country. At the hustings she emphasized fiscal responsibility, claiming that few MPs are financially literate, though it’s not clear exactly what that means. Her party promotes the protection of our Magna Carta liberties. That’s a worthy goal, though her focus on almost every question had to do with government monies, especially with how cash trickles down (or fails to trickle down) from the central government in London through various departments and layers of bureaucracy until very little reaches the people; her answer to about half of the questions included some variation of “Where has the money gone?” Pretty soon the audience began to chuckle every time she repeated the mantra.
Miss Temple also was the only speaker who tended to go over the allotted time. The priest acting as timekeeper rang a cowbell when time was up to drown out speakers who wouldn’t stop; between the bell and the audience laughter, the candidate had to subside. (To an American reader, having all of these political meetings take place in churches with clerics as moderators may sound odd, but you have to remember there is no separation of church and state here.)
The Labour party’s candidate spoke well and with conviction. I mentioned in a previous post that Nick Radford, the LibDem candidate for Salisbury, is 26 and looks 14; I can tell you now that Tom Miller, Labour candidate for Woking, is 24 and looks 12, but he held his own admirably against the Tory candidate, Jonathon Lord, despite Lord’s being twice his age and having several times as much experience. (I do wonder what the Tory candidate, if he should ever do such great service to the country that the monarch decides to elevate him into the nobility, would be called—Lord Lord, presumably?)
The candidate from the Liberal Democrats, Rosie Sharpley, puzzled me. She took each question to mean something a bit off-kilter from what I and, more importantly, the other candidates seemed to understand it to be. Should the UK have an arms industry and sell weapons to other countries? Mrs Sharpley chose to condemn the illegal worldwide trade in arms rather than answer the question. (Strange. It’s not as though her opponents are promoting illegal arms deals.) What will you to do narrow the gap between rich and poor so as to make society more just? Mrs Sharpley spoke instead about how to ensure all citizens fair access to the justice system. This didn’t seem like the usual political waffling; perhaps we can put it down to lateral thinking, and call it an asset, but I’m not convinced.
Ruth Temple did a bit of this off-the-wall answering herself, managing to work in her stance on assisted suicide and drug use when the questions didn’t obviously lead into those areas. I ran into her at a nearby pub after the event and had a chat that intrigued me very much, although I can’t say I understood all of it. Miss Temple said she’d been the victim of identity theft; that relatives had defrauded her and that a former MP had been associated with the fraudulent transactions; and that one of her rivals in this election, unable to fulfill the requirements for holding office, would be forced to withdraw from the contest.
I’ll certainly be watching to see how that plays out, but for now I have to content myself with some Googling around to try to find out more. Miss Temple gives her address as 2001 Jack Temple Building, Pyrford Road, Woking; the late Jack Temple, her father, apparently operated his “Dowsing – Healer Society Academy” (later Health Orienteering) at 2 Ruth Temple Leasehold, same road, same postcode—curiouser and curiouser. The community knew him as a sought-after healer—Diana, Princess of Wales, is said to have consulted him. He used preparations empowered via the use of a stone circle he constructed himself. I tend to be skeptical of most nontraditional healing, but I can really get behind at least one of his ideas: I would dearly love to have my own stone circle in the back yard/garden. How cool would that be?
And I can’t think of stone circles, of course, without my thoughts circling back to the candidates standing for election in Salisbury, particularly King Arthur, so here’s an update to my previous post on the political horserace in that constituency:
Readers may be interested in hearing King Arthur interviewed on BBC Wiltshire radio (http://tinyurl.com/KingArthurOnRadioWiltshire; fast forward to the 1:39 mark and you’ll find that interview, which lasts about 11 minutes, though I don’t know how long it will remain available). I don’t think I’ve imagined that the interviewer started off skeptical, but Arthur won him over. In the end, he thanked Arthur for coming onto the show and speaking so eloquently. Ladbrokes (a bookmaker) is giving odds of 100:1 against him winning, so put down some money and maybe he’ll surprise everybody by winning, and make us rich besides. They’re giving the same 100:1 odds against the Labour candidate, so Arthur’s as much in the running as at least one of the major-party candidates.
The Bible guy wants to withdraw from the race but it’s too late to take his name off the ballot, so he’s asked voters planning to vote for him to support the Tory candidate instead. He makes clear that his intention is to keep Nick Radford, the LibDem from winning.
Mr Radford made the national news because he’s said that if elected he will not continue a 300-year-old tradition in that constituency: the singing of a victory song about hoeing turnips. I swear I didn’t make it up.
And that’s where things stand, with one more day of campaigning before the election.