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A day in the life of a parliamentary candidate (2)

by Alan Townend

Henry Orpington's first engagement that day was an open-air meeting on a large housing estate at ten o'clock. As most of the men were out at work, his audience consisted mainly of women and young children. Andrew Higgins kept a close watch on the platform from which Henry was making his speech, while several plainclothes policemen mingled inconspicuously with the crowd.

There was very little reaction to Henry's speech, except from one or two hecklers at the back who kept on asking what Henry's party intended to do about the rising price of fruit and vegetables. After the speech he shook hands with some of the women. One of them lifted up a baby for him to kiss, but the sight of Henry's beard must have frightened it because it began to scream its head off.

At eleven o'clock he paid a brief visit to a public house on the estate. Henry couldn't offer to buy anyone a drink because he knew very well that his opponents would consider that to be bribery. So he let one of his supporters buy him a drink instead.

At lunch time he went to his sister's house to see his wife and daughters. They had spent the morning addressing envelopes for the leaflets he was sending out. His sister, Vera, thoroughly disapproved of his involvement in politics.

Vera      Now I hope you can see the danger of getting mixed up
          in politics, Henry. You and the family will probably all
          be blown up.
Henry     Don't exaggerate, Vera. I'm sure it's just a hoax.
Vera      I only hope you're right. What other meetings have you
          got today?
Henry     I shall be calling at houses in Midhampton this
          afternoon, and then there's a big meeting tonight in the
          field behind Thompson's farm.
Vera      There you are, then. No doubt one of those stupid
          farmers has got a pile of bombs hidden in a haystack.
Henry     Oh, Vera, really!

There was a large crowd in the field when Henry arrived at eight o'clock for what was perhaps the biggest meeting of the whole campaign. His constituency was largely a farming community and the most important local issue concerned the subsidies that the new government would be paying to the farmers. After a hard day's work, hundreds of farmers and farm labourers had come to the field to hear what Henry had to say.

Henry    Ladies and gentlemen, I appreciate the anxiety you must
         all feel about this question of subsidies. I too have
         been a farmer and I know the difficulties you are
         experiencing, and so ...
Heckler  ... and so you've decided to become an M.P. and get rich!
Henry    No, my friend. I want to give the farmers a voice in the
         House of Commons.
Heckler  I don't believe a word of it!
Henry    You've got a strong voice, I'll admit. But London's two
         hundred miles away and I don't think your voice will carry
         that far. That's why I want to speak on your behalf.

The Parliamentary Candidate
The Parliamentary Candidate (2)
The Parliamentary Candidate (3)
The Parliamentary Candidate (4)

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A day in the life of a parliamentary candidate

Alan Townend

There was absolutely no doubt that Henry Orpington liked politics. He talked about politics all the time. All the members of his family were pleased, therefore, when Henry was adopted as the prospecti
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The crowd remained good-natured for the first part of his speech and Henry was feeling pleased with himself. And then, suddenly, half a dozen tractors roared onto the field.

"Do you like to
parliamentary candidate         man or woman standing for
                                election to parliament as an M.P.
                                (Member of Parliament)
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