Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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Democracy in Decay: Battle of the unelectables


THE forthcoming general election has had a dire quality of candidates and campaigning – at least from the mainstream parties – but it is also an exciting opportunity to reform British politics. Last Wednesday I attended the hustings for the East Sussex parliamentary seat of Bexhill and Battle, among a group supporting independent candidate Nigel Jacklin. It was both exasperating and enlightening on the state we’re in.

The venue was St Mark’s Church. The host was the vicar, who performed his role well, particularly in keeping the politicians to their allotted time. The pews were full, mostly with the grey-haired (fitting the demography of the town) but also by dozens of Labour supporters of all ages. I wondered whether there would be any sign of the Reform surge in this predominantly Tory area, but there was no obvious following for the candidate here.

Eight of the ten candidates appeared, and they gave their initial pitch:

  • Kieran Mullan (Conservative) – current MP for Crewe, parachuted to a safe seat that is now very unsafe after Nigel Farage entered the fray; his leaflet has absolutely no mention of the Conservative Party, instead emphasising his past career in medicine and the police;
  • Becky Jones (Lib Dem) – health practitioner who regards the NHS as simultaneously wonderful and not working, if that makes sense;
  • Julia Long (Voice for Women) – vociferous critic of gender fluidity;
  • Nigel Jacklin (independent) – led the campaign against the proposed asylum-seeker camp at Northeye, Bexhill;
  • Jeff Newnham (independent) – horse trader who ran a separate campaign against Northeye, getting £18,000 from residents for a futile legal challenge;
  • Christine Bayless (Labour) – potential winner of the seat by default, as Reform lures Tory voters, emphasises that she would be ‘the first female Labour MP for Bexhill’;
  • Ian Gribbin (Reform) – thrown into national media spotlight after trawlers of his social media history found him arguing that Britain should have made peace with Germany in 1939, cueing confected outrage that he is a Nazi sympathiser; he focused on improving services;
  • Jonathan Kent (Green) – the ‘climate crisis’ is the biggest priority of our time.

The vicar read out a selection of questions, seen by the candidates in advance. First was how the government’s £20million investment for ‘left behind’ (i.e. traditionally white) areas should be spent. Jones, the Lib Dem, said that she would consult ‘all our communities’ (unwittingly following a Cultural Marxist strategy of divide and rule). The Reform candidate raised eyebrows by calling for CCTV for the seafront. Otherwise the answers were predictable and boring.

Next question was how candidates would support Ukraine with military and humanitarian aid. All except the two independents spouted the official narrative. In stark contrast, Jacklin asserted that ‘we must stop all wars’. That went down like a lead balloon. ‘Shame on you’ shouted someone from the Labour pews. A stance that would have appealed to liberals and leftists at any previous election is now heresy. Kent of the Greens warned that Putin’s tanks will roll over Romania, the Baltic states and beyond. The audience, mostly too old for conscription, seemed quite accepting of the need for war.

On a question relating to the health service, Jacklin attacked the Tory MP for the government’s mandating of Covid-19 vaccines and dismissal of 40,000 care workers. Bayliss, tentatively in a Brexit-voting area, blamed leaving the EU for the NHS losing half of its staff. Correctives to this were dismissed by the audience, who seemed to think throwing more money at this bloated organisation would make it more caring.

On a question on support for farmers, Gribbin stated a Reform target of Britain producing 70 per cent of its food. Gribbin decried the same bureaucratic ratchet for farmers as in the NHS; farmers spend more time on form-filling than tilling fields. Jacklin referred to his survey showing that farmers are opposed to Net Zero.

The Green guy turned this discussion on to food poverty (saying nothing of his party’s policy to ‘rewild’ farms). People cannot afford to put a meal on the table, he claimed. Bayliss, who volunteers at a food bank, said that working people are relying on such handouts. The Tory MP opined that the existence of food banks is not ideal, but they show society helping people in need. ‘Disgusting’, shouted the former mayor of Bexhill, Paul Plim (who supports spending billions on weapons for Ukraine).

The next three questions were no moral controversies of interest to the church. On transgenderism and whether it should be taught to children, Kent pontificated on the need to ‘be kind’ and not marginalise vulnerable people, while Bayliss (who sits on a school board) urged inclusivity. Gribbin declared that Reform will ban gender theory and critical race theory in schools. Mullan stated that the Conservative government has moved to protect the legal status of women. 

This question was what Long had been waiting for. She railed against sex-change operations for kids, for allowing a man wearing a dress into ladies’ dressing rooms, and rapists endangering female prisoners. She was heckled by the lefties, but spoke forcefully and was cheered by our group.

Next topic was abortion. Green, Lib Dem and Labour candidates were unequivocal on a woman’s right to choose. None had any concern for the occupant for the womb. Incisively, Long observed that her rival candidates suddenly knew what women want, after denying their existence! On euthanasia, some candidates were supportive of the right to assisted dying, but Gribbin and Mullan agreed with the lady who asked the question, fearing pressure on older people to die.

A question was then taken from a student on how candidates would make Bexhill a better place for the young. After repeated drivel about building more homes, the Reform candidate mentioned mass immigration and the downward pressure on wages, the lack of applause showing that such events are disproportionately attended by ‘progressives’. Kent, sounding like Greta Thunberg, issued an apology to the student for the damage caused by his generation.

For the final question the vicar asked people to shout out any topic not yet covered. ‘Northeye’ was the immediate response from my bench, but this was drowned out by ‘sewage’ from across the nave. Thames Water is the culprit for several effluent leaks into the sea, and as Kent said, the fines do not seem to deter. The general view was water companies should be brought back into public ownership, although as we see with the NHS, that won’t necessarily improve the service.

All candidates were given one minute for closing remarks. Most promoted themselves as local men or women (something that the Crewe MP couldn’t do). The parting contribution of Kent was to identify himself with the ‘99.9 per cent’ against the super-rich. Rupert Murdoch was his chosen oligarch, and when I shouted ‘What about Bill Gates?’ Kent responded: ‘Elon Musk: he wants to go to Mars, and he should stay there.’

Long used her last minute to repeat her invective against subversive gender ideology, to jeers from the audience (and a roar of approval from us). Mullan, perhaps smarting from Jacklin’s earlier barb about the vaccination mandate, urged everyone to get their boosters.  He got plenty of applause from the elderly people behind us, who may still vote Tory despite 14 years of betrayal. Afterwards one of our group confronted Mullan on pushing injections now proven to be harmful, but he evaded her challenge.

Did anyone steal the show?

Not really, although for me the Green candidate was both the most disagreeable and most accomplished speaker. The event ended with the Lord’s Prayer, recited by all but the younger lefties. As the crowd was leaving I heard a man of possible Lib Dem persuasion remarking on the ‘right-wingers’ in the audience supporting the women’s candidate. Amazingly, being against war, defending women’s rights and opposing authoritarian mandates is now ‘right-wing’.

The Overton window has certainly shifted in politics, and in the stained glass limelight in Bexhill, we were surrounded by Normies unaware of the global tyranny being built around them, while the mainstream party candidates made all the same promises as before. 

This article appeared in Country Squire Magazine on June 24, 2024, and is republished by kind permission.

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