Colin Bex has defied the sceptics by conducting his campaign almost wholly by public transport. Today he did need a lift, to fit in three towns in as many hours after an emergency change of plan.
Colin arrived by bus in Banbury this afternoon to be interviewed by Banbury Sound, the local radio station covering north Oxfordshire, including the northern part of the Witney constituency. The presenter was pleased with the recording, and disappointed that few other candidates had taken up the offer to air their views. The interview is planned to be broadcast on Tuesday, 4 May.
From Banbury it was on to Witney, to collect more election leaflets from the printers, then to Woodstock for a public meeting at the Town Hall. Organised by Woodstock Churches Together, this was an opportunity for voters to meet the candidates and ask questions of them. Candidates for the Greens and the Liberal Democrats were there in person, as was one of the Independents standing; the Conservative and Labour candidates were represented by local party spokesmen. Two Independents and the Loony and UKIP candidates did not attend.
Issues raised ranged from early-years education to the West Lothian question. Colin skillfully steered his answers to the case for parish power and regional self-government. A gasp of realisation ran through the audience when he proposed punitive taxation of the 5-10% of people who own 90% of the wealth, the money to be allocated to parish councils in proportion to their population to spend as they see fit. It had clearly dawned on many that here was a serious political party with truly radical plans for revitalising our local communities. In a week when the annual Sunday Times Rich List showed the richest 1,000 getting richer by £77 billion over a year that has been made so difficult for ordinary saps now facing service cuts of a similar magnitude, it was a message well-received.
Given the circumstances of the constituency, it was perhaps to be expected that the debate would line up as Tories versus the rest. David Cameron’s party came under sustained attack for its attitude to a hung parliament. Listening to the Tories, one would think such an outcome must lead at once to general economic collapse, perpetual barrenness of cattle, crops and women and the imminent arrival of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. If an anti-Tory coalition succeeded, not merely in dashing Wisteria Man’s hopes for five years of elective dictatorship but in finally banishing our mediaeval electoral system (last fit for purpose circa 1832), one can see why they might very well think that. ‘Hung parliament’ is a loaded term; Alex Salmond is right to prefer the term ‘balanced parliament’, though that does not go nearly far enough. What is actually needed is a ‘rainbow parliament’ representing the true diversity of public opinion in these islands. Just make sure that any coalition isn’t a government of ALL the talents or there’ll be no-one left to speak the truth.
At the end of the evening various candidates and spokesmen shook hands amidst the usual bonhomie. The Tory spokesman offered his hand to Colin, who pointedly refused it. A lack of due civility? Not at all. The major parties, dealing death and devastation in the name of money, are no better than criminal conspiracies. We live in hope that their leaders will one day – soon – be brought to justice.