We’re into the last week of the UK General Election, so we went to the local hustings, in Alderley Edge. As background, Tatton is a Conservative safe seat currently held with a huge majority (58% of voters, Labour second) by ex-minister Esther McVey.
The hustings were held in a church and chaired by the vicar. Candidates answered questions put by selected members of the audience.
Esther McVey largely stuck to the party line – get Brexit done, with little detail on anything else. She was bemused as to why there were more food banks today than 10 years ago, and why politics is now so divisive. It seems it was all caused by Labour’s creating the financial crash of 2008 and leaving the country in a mess. Nothing to do with the banks and Tory policy in the intervening years, then. Derisive laughter met her attempts to explain why police numbers had been reduced by 20000, which were now going to be replaced, and similar apparent reversals on education and NHS.
The Labour Party candidate James Weinberg came over as confident and dynamic, reeling off a plethora of attractive-sounding policies across the piece, including the green new deal. This young man gives confidence in the future of our politics. While doubts must remain on whether the Labour programme is over-ambitious, he did sensibly point out that their proposals are in fact only returning UK public spending levels to be comparable to other European countries.
Generally, Weinberg got the applause and McVey the derision. However, there was clearly a silent mass of Conservative supporters who murmured assent when their buttons were pressed.
The Liberal Democrat candidate Jonathan Smith gave fair answers, generally on similar lines to Labour. Many things came back to staying in Europe. While this is true, it does not seem to have sufficient traction in the current environment – there seems to be a feeling that Brexit must be closed off by realisation or by referendum. Sadly, the Lib Dem message is still sullied by the coalition years that established the current Conservative hegemony.
Green Party candidate Nigel Hennerley correctly pointed out that climate breakdown is the real issue facing us all, and now is the time to act. I suspect the hidden majority in Tatton will only agree with him when Cheshire fields are under ten feet of water, and forest fires threaten Alderley Edge itself.
Jonathan did point out that Tatton is probably the most unequal constituency in the country. Of course that means there is no chance of McVey being deposed. The silent majority at home will vote Tory to retain a status quo that suits them well.
Indeed, any vote for Jonathan or Nigel is essentially wasted; only Labour has any chance of removing the incumbent. Our first-past-the-post system is really quite iniquitous.
Photograph from Alderley Edge by JarrahTree via Wikimedia Commons
4 thoughts on “At the Hustings”
Reblogged this on Eyes in the back of my Head and commented:
I was there too at the Tatton hustings, which became lively and noisy when McVey was booed and heckled. She was depressingly monochrome and only really came into her own (drawing on her experience as a TV presenter) at the end when she did her summing up. It was like she was back “on script”, giving a performance. Hadn’t the Tories issued candidates with a crib sheet of what to say? It sounded like she’d learned it off by heart; she didn’t convince me that she was speaking from the heart.
The other candidates, however, felt and were a lot more genuine, with Labour’s James Weinberg standing out as a beacon of hope for the future, where change is desperately needed in our riven country.
Environmental issues and climate change are infinitely more important than Brexit, yet I suspect that the silent block of Tory old schoolers will vote for McVey and Boris the Blamer. Significantly, it was only McVey who blamed other parties in this debate and sought to bring them into disrepute. The other candidates occasionally referred to other parties, but did ot to blame or dwell on them.
My hope (and vote!) is for our once “safe seat” for “shoo in” candidates (previously George Osborne & now McVey) becomes a lot less safe and gives way to new wave of refreshing change.
I’m very interested in your view. All the tactical voting web sites suggest Lib Dem although I too have been impressed by both the Labour and the Green candidates for Tatton. Whatever we do is academic though I’m sure. How depressing!
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Hi Mary, Thanks for your comment. The hill for Lib Dems is so high to climb, I can’t see the logic, not that I’m any sort of expert. I notice that the tactical.vote website says Labour.
https://tactical.vote/tatton suggests Labour as best tactical vote, Mary.