April 27 2010 7:30 PM to the Methodist halls in central Paisley for an election hustings the circus was in town. I have attended hustings meetings before as a panellist and as a member of the audience and I can say that as a part of the democratic process they have been rendered useless. Years ago they were a vital part of the electoral process but they have been used as an arena for bad behaviour and bullying; in this part of the world that is down mainly to two parties the Scottish Socialist Party is one but by far the worst is the Scottish Nationalist Party and their out of control supporters. Labour and the Tories and their supporters have over recent years drifted away from such meetings because of the conduct of some groups; it becomes clear quite quickly that these particular groups have deliberately ‘packed’ the meeting with their supporters and the whole thing becomes worthless.
Last night the meeting was reduced to farce just as it started; three of the candidates were in the audience rather than on the platform two of them not having been invited; one independent just sat there bewildered another from the SNP Mr. Doig just sat there and a third; independent Mr. Mack who has ‘previous’ used the situation to berate the organisers for excluding him and was after some quite funny ranting and raving invited to join the platform; fuming with synthetic rage and wearing what looked like one of Del Boy Trotters discarded suits he brought some much needed levity to the proceedings. The situation regarding the SNP candidate Mr. Doig I’m afraid remains a mystery which only he can explain; sat there looking in rude health and chatting to those around him while an SNP candidate from the neighbouring constituency; the truly wretched Ms. McLaren took his place on the platform had everyone baffled; it is difficult to believe that he could have been any worse than her still; it takes all kinds right?
The Tory was typical of what you get from them in an unwinnable seat; a retired police dinosaur who played the race card by suggesting that the lack of housing was down to an uncontrolled immigration policy for which he was surprisingly and rightly booed and shouted down. The SSP guy was my old friend Jimmy Kerr who gave his standard stump speech about the Socialist revolution, he was passionate and genuine as always; his problem was that he only had the one speech and every time he got the floor he made the same speech again so we got it about 6 times; he’s a likeable muddle headed guy is Jimmy. Mr. Mack is hilarious but unfortunately for him he is not trying to be funny; an impossible hurdle to overcome for anyone let alone one as challenged as Mr. Mack, he has never learned the difference between people laughing with him and people laughing at him. He started by claiming in strong tones that he was “A Marxist” then started reading approvingly from an article in The Daily Mail oops! He also made the strenuous point that all the economic problems we face are the fault of MP’s and councillors expenses all £140 or is it £150 trillion of them, Paisley has a long tradition of legendary characters such as “ta ta bella” “Ding Gray” and “Cuthbert” Mr. Mack is carrying on that fine tradition. The Lib. Dem. Candidate was anonymous and irrelevant.
Last but not least was Wendy Alexander who took the place of her brother Douglas unavoidably detained in London; she was by far the brightest one there and the only one capable of speaking on every subject with any authority. She was also the one who was targeted for abuse by the ‘meeting packers’ she clearly scares them considering their reaction to her. Here is another strange thing which I saw from the nats; as I left at the end of Wendy’s closing speech I walked to the back of the hall where most of the abuse was coming from and discovered a group of SNP hecklers actually directing their abuse at her from behind some large pillars; that’s right they were actually hiding; as I said earlier It takes all kinds right?