Overwhelming reponse from Abbey hustings

My thanks to Canon Usher of Hexham Abbey for arranging the hustings yesterday evening. A great success for getting electorate and candidates together.

The sacred preceded the profane – Evensong before battle – so to speak.

The nave of the Abbey was packed – several hundred certainly. I have seen the figure of five hundred suggested. The audience were invited to write questions that were then organised by Canon Usher. Once the questions were posed, each candidate had ninety seconds to respond before being bopped on the head by a ‘STOP!’ sign-wielding umpire.

The range of topics was wide. My team and I had roughed out a list of possible topics beforehand but only a handful came up.

It was a particular pleasure to find that the author of a letter to The Courant was in the audience – see an earlier Blog entry. A young woman had written to emphasise the importance of engaging the young in politics. I had replied by return to The Courant but the letter had not appeared. I have now had the chance to send her the text after she made email contact.

The party line, with some personal variations, was rehearsed by the party candidates and I was able to speak freely on all topics.

To say that the response has been overwhelming would be an understatement. Emails, phone calls, face to face encounters, strangers stopping me on the street… A major Thank You to all who have been in touch.

There’s a very special pleasure and encouragement to be had from eliciting warmth and laughter from an audience. Politics is or should be about empathy and meaningful communication between electorate and elected. It’s not simply about telling the electorate what they’re going to get.

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