I was delighted to have been invited and accepted in a shot but in honesty I was quietly sceptical as to the likelihood of the event going ahead. We have all read accounts online of similar events being cancelled elsewhere due to threats of violence/protest from extremist fascist groups supported by the main parties. This is one of the tragedies of modern politics but one that we are used to.
I was reassured by the hosts that they were aware of this situation and that they were firm in their resolve that their event would go ahead in their venue come what may. I have spoken to several people from within the Christian community and the common feeling was that these particular Christians are more than a bit keen on fairness and that an invitation from them was something that could cheerfully be counted on as a date for the diary.
Last night I received a couple of calls from concerned and dear friends. Their concern was about an e-mail that they had received from the church asking Christians to pray for a safe meeting. Threats of violence/protest had been received and the police called in to deal with eventualities.
Our contact details and photographs are all easily available in several places on the internet and we are completely comfortable with this. Unlike others we live with this on a 24/7 basis and felt no particular apprehension from the threats on the evening.
We did not take any pictures prior to leaving for the hustings but the one above is one of Debbie and myself prior to leaving for the recent St George’s evening event in Birmingham when we were in similar mood.
The police were in attendance when we arrived and I am pleased to report that their presence was unnecessary though it was nice to see that Warwickshire Police was taking the situation seriously.
We were greeted warmly by dignitaries from the Nuneaton Christians Together committee who honestly did appear to be pleased that the British National Party was represented at their event. We were shown through to the hospitality suite where tea was offered and accepted and we sat with the other contenders, sorry, candidates. Conservative Marcus Jones, Labour Jayne Innes and the Liberal Democrat who could not come from Stafford was represented by her election agent who was up for it but clearly felt a little like a sheep in a shooting gallery.
We were briefed on the format for the evening as the public entered and the hall quickly filled up. Forms were made available for the attendees to submit written questions. This they did in substantial numbers.
The picture back at the beginning of this piece was taken as we were settling down at the start. Privately it does amuse me to see the cross between myself and the Labour candidate. It is one of many things that divide us but rather poignant considering the setting.
The chair chose which questions to ask to ensure that there was a balance and that as many different topics as possible were covered.
Initially all candidates had three minutes to speak about themselves. The chair then asked a question and each candidate answered individually. The chair then allowed follow up comments from the candidates once we had all spoken. This format worked well enough. One gentleman in the audience did say that he wished that the audience could join in and I do tend to agree with him. There were a lot of questions however and had this been allowed we would still be there!
I made certain that I answered the questions that were asked quite directly leaving no one in any doubt what the positions are. This was appreciated by the audience as several times during the event the questioner would shout out, “You have not answered my question” but never at me.
As the evening wore on the Labour candidate was getting ever more desperate and descended to the level of calling me the ‘Bratish’ National Party candidate. She obviously thought that she was doing well. This drew disapproving looks from the audience and I ignored the comment completely in my response, preferring to retain the moral high ground and preserve good manners.
I thoroughly enjoyed representing the British National Party at these hustings which I am sure will not surprise you. I am a confident public speaker and as you may be able to deduce from the picture above had no difficulty putting our policies across.
From the stage I had a commanding view of the assembly and there were many nods and smiles throughout. The odd bout of applause even! I was easily able to answer all of the questions and it did not escape peoples notice, as several said to me afterwards, that I was the only candidate that was able to speak off the cuff. The others arrived with many notes and a pen which they usually had to make use of before they could answer.
Hustings events such as these are a boost for Nationalists in the community because they allow many respected members of the Christian community to see that we do not have two heads and that what we actually say is not as depicted by others. Many people had a pleasant surprise last night and said so. These are people who no one has ever called extreme, anyone who did so would be laughed at, and to know that they are in the community today with a positive image of the British National Party fills me with pride.
I would like to thank Nuneaton Christians Together for organising the event and for standing by their belief in free speech in the face of threats. To be in the company of true Christians who in honesty were not certain what they were going to get but had the integrity to invite me anyway was a rare pleasure. I would also like to thank the small contingent of members who supported us on the night.