The North Norfolk hustings meetings were subdued affairs. There was a respectful, almost reverential, silence shown to all five candidates as they went through their answers. When I had the temerity to mutter loudly from the front row at the flagrantly dishonest way that both the Conservative and LibDem candidates promoted the apprenticeship figures they looked at me as though I had interrupted a sermon in Church. Clearly they felt I was not showing them sufficient reverence.
This again underlines the decline of the traditional public meeting. I miss these invigorating and exciting occasions in which candidates were expected to deal with the rowdy heckler. Certainly these events were great fun in South Wales where I was first active as a teenager. I can well remember the banter that we used to give both Tories and Nationalists and one insult in particular comes to mind. Two leading Welsh Nationalist figures in Cardiff had a very public falling out when one of them had an affair with the other’s wife. This led to a physical confrontation in which one, shades of disgraced heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson, bit a large chunk out of the other’s ear, requiring extensive surgery. Every time thereafter the unfortunate man rose up to speak we was greeted with a co-ordinated shout of ‘happy new year’. Such behaviour would not play well in sedate North Norfolk.
However, even here some lines have been crossed. A number of large display boards promoting the UKip candidate have been disfigured by the addition of Hitler moustaches. I don’t know who did this but unreservedly condemn it and hope that the perpetrators are brought to justice. If a poster is legal in content, and displayed on private ground, it should be left alone. Anything else is an attack on the democratic process.