“They’re charming people, but they’re eccentrics” was the verdict of barrister Peter Herrity on the three minority candidates standing in the newly created constituency of Meon Valley.
The last hustings of the campaign at Waltham Chase saw 150 people come to the Methodist Chapel to hear all six candidates.
However, when English Democrat candidate – retired gas fitter Pat Harris- told one questioner ‘I can’t answer your question”, Mr Herrity was on his feet to ask the chairman not to allow the English Democrat, the Ukip or the Independent candidate to answer any further questions due to lack of time, adding that the election was a “two horse race” and that the minority candidates had “as much chance of winning as I have of going to heaven.”
Mr Herrity’s intervention towards the end of the meeting was in the only moment of drama in otherwise routine hustings.
Speaking to members of the audience afterwards, while everyone said they supported the right of minority candidates to stand and be heard, I could find no one interested in voting for one.
Mrs Duggers certainly wasn’t impressed by them: “some of their responses are not of the standard I would expect from a member of parliament “she said adding that she thought the Conservative candidate was clearly the best.
There seems to be a high percentage of retired professionals in Waltham Chase many of whom are solidly Conservative.
What if we had proportional representation, who would all these Conservative supporters choose as a second vote? I wondered.
“I would vote Conservative and then Conservative again” said smartly dressed ‘villager’, Linda Brown.
“I don’t believe in proportional representation” her friend said
“although I would like to see a wider variety of parties – its’ a waste of time – it would result in a hung parliament and we would have to have another election.”
One woman, who did not want to be named, confided that she had voted Ukip in the last election but later regretted it saying she felt it had been a wasted vote.
She would be voting Conservative this time, even though she said she had agreed with much of what the Ukip candidate said during the evening
David Foster was in agreement,
“You can’t vote Ukip that’s just a wasted vote.
I would have voted Liberal Democrat but I’ve just had it confirmed they want to lower the allowance on capital gains tax from £10,000K to £1000.
This is going to hurt me and most of the people here.
It’s going to have to be Conservative.”
If the middle class voters of Waltham don’t like Lib Dem tax proposals on CGT then perhaps less well off Labour voters elsewhere in the constituency will appreciate their proposed raising of the Income tax threshold to £10,000?
There is only a notional majority of 1800 votes between the Conservative George Hollingbery and his nearest rival Liz Leffman for the Liberal Democrats.
In order to bridge the gap Ms Leffman will need a 38% swing from Labour.
Can she do it? Will the thought of an extra £700 in the pocket be enough to sway voters?
Bookies seem to think not and have installed George Hollingbery as the 1/3 odds on favourite.