Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Distant Election

It's been a joy to be away in the Yorkshire Dales over the past week, with a group of sterling, genuinely good-humoured and excellent cadets. But even up there, where you could easily think the world had stopped for you, as the sun trickled across the mellow moorland in a don't care-ish sort of way, the newly declared election managed to throw its elongated, if rather lackadaisical, tentacles. The actual announcement of the election had all the surprise value of someone declaring that they could walk by placing one foot in front of another. We didn't really notice it. Later, however, rustic signs of an election began appearing, particularly the large orange triangular signs that declare the Liberals are "winning here". A subjective rather than objective assessment, I assumed.

However, as we arrived at the village of Dent, the only village in the whole of Dentdale (the Norse invaders preferred solitary homesteads you see), a lone Tory invader came daringly up to the school minibus. Where were we from, he asked (the legend "Sutton Grammar School for Boys" across both sides of the minibus cunningly avoids specific geographical placement). This is the committed Tory you see - alighting from his range-rover in plus fours, he was determined to leave no individual unturned in his canvassing quest along Dentdale. His interest slightly waned when he was told our Sutton was in London, but he did remind us that "There's an election on you know". This is how news gets passed on in the Dales. We chatted awhile, and I remarked that the incumbent Liberal for this seat (Westmoreland and Lonsdale) seemed to have some good friends amongst the farmers, if their willingness to display his large orange posters was anything to go by. "No, he is NOT liked by the farmers at all" Mr. Plus Four assured me, although the evidence for this had to be curtailed as his car was blocking someone on the narrow road outside.

The following day, at one of those leisurely stops one has in the Dales, at an isolated pub which had carelessly let its kitchen staff (the landlady's husband) go out on just the day that a horde of hungry teenagers were passing by, I was able to get a more objective view of Liberal MP Tim Farron. He's good, said the landlady, who did not appear to be of any fixed party. He gets things done. He actually writes replies to letters and seems to work hard. She didn't place a lot of credibility on the view of my Tory canvasser informant, who she knew. Tim Farron could well get back in.

Thus, a distant election seemed not so very distant after all, even if the bucolic splendour of the Dales made it seem just a little bit irrelevant.


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