Put Up – And Then Shut Up?

In days of yore, when fair play ruled, candidates for elected office were judged by the voters on polling day. Now they are judged by the managers of our ‘democracy’ well ahead of that event. The media and others select those whom they think we should listen to and discard those whom we simply shall not hear.

A disgraceful example of this took place last night at Witney, where the local Churches Together group held a hustings. The equivalent event in Woodstock was well-run, with no assumption that the parties who did best last time should hog the limelight.

Scandalously, the Witney event was something else. The Rev. Richard Donoghue, the Methodist minister who organised it, had decided that only parties with recent or actual representation at UK or EU level should be on the platform, thereby excluding 50% of the candidates from the democratic process. Colin Bex stated in an open letter:

“It is shameful that not one of the candidates accepting a place on the platform raised an objection against Donoghue’s imperious decision to order none of us to speak, just one example of what in my own election address I rightly describe as the ‘farce’ of the British electoral system.

I did not accede to being gagged by Donoghue’s incredible exhortation that, not only being banned from speaking, those of us candidates in the body of the hall were only allowed to clap – not to express their disapproval – when deemed appropriate (similar to the prompters of a captive audience in a live-broadcast studio or pupils in a kindergarten school).

I refused to clap the dinosaur party candidates, I stood up and told the assembled company to vote Wessex, and shouted ‘shame’ and ‘disgraceful’ on numerous occasions against the lies and worse being pedalled by the dinosaurs’ representatives throughout the proceedings.”

Independent candidate Paul Wesson played a divisive and doomed game of sycophancy, arguing that his record as a local councillor and quangocrat should entitle him to a place on the platform, whereas validly nominated candidates from minor parties could be safely sidelined as ‘jokes’. Reportedly he made no effort to challenge the ruling on the night. Colin commented:

“Had the ambient atmosphere in the hall been less like the consistency of a blancmange, and had I for example had your support, I would have been willing to help bring the proceedings to a premature adjournment including having been carried out by the police if necessary, which on several occasions I have done in order to win campaigns on other matters elsewhere in the past.

At least this would have got the press into gear and to report some active expression of the simmering anger likely to burst into social unrest in the coming months on account of the incredible arrogance and presumption of whatever of the dinosaur parties seizes power.”

One comment on “Put Up – And Then Shut Up?

  1. May 5, 2010 Paul Wesson

    Colin, we all have to do what we have to do. I argued with Rev Donoghue on the 'phone for all of us and I wrote a letter, not printed, to the Witney Gazette for all of us. When that tack failed I tried the localism and long-term commitment approach. I've been campaigning in Witney since 1998 and will continue to campaign here after you've left. You'll never stand here ever again.

    The fact that you call me a quangocrat shows you've done no research into my record as a non-exec director. I was forced from office precisely because I wouldn't play the 'quangocrat' game.


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