Election Fever came to Dorchester yesterday evening when candidates for the Henley Constituency responded to an invitation to come to the Abbey, meet voters and answer questions. Not such a large attendance as we had enjoyed when we ran a similar event for the By Election a year or so ago but still , and despite the disappointment that the sitting MP John Howell had another engagement, a good evening. The event took the form of an 'Any Questions' evening with members of the public invted to submit their questions in advance and a wide range of questions were submitted about issues from local transport and the re-opening of local railway lines to the candidates views on Trident.
Chairing something like this is probably as nerve wracking for the chairman as speaking at it is for the Candidates but I guess the worries are different. They need to be on their toes and not let the party down - whilst I'm trying to be fair to both audience and all the speakers. Is it better to speak forst or last - how to 'ring the changes' in terms of order of speakers from question to question? Just when to interrupt someone who is exceeding their time? Allowing debate, supplementary and response or asking all the questions. By the time we were over I was pretty tired and the Candidates who had done an event at Gillots school earlier in the day and were booked for Thame Sports Centre this morning seemed quite content with their punishing timetable!
Will we ahve made a difference -I was left wondering. Many of the people who attended were those who have already made up their mind - but not all - and maybe some minds were changed or given food for thought. Someone sent me an interesting online test the other day - if you follow this link http://voteforpolicies.org.uk/you can do it too. It gives you the opportunity to read policies on certain subjects without knowing which party they come from. I'm sure it has a 'party' background' and I'm sure there are others. Before you 'take the test' it says that you might be surprised at your result - I wasn't I'm as equally balanced between the same two parties as I have been for a few years now and will probably do what I have at several elections and make my mind up in the Polling Booth. Now - I wonder whether last night's candidates would have liked to know that?
A week in Dorchester Abbey can be very varied - in the past week we've celebrated the Centenary of Girlguiding and St George's Day with the Scouts and also begun planning for a fascinating event in the autumn the JWOLE exhibition.
What's JWOLE? It's the Jewish Way of Life Exhibition - begun by Lord Winston's mother in the form of a 'box' of artefacts that she could use to explain her faith and it's customs it is now a substantial exhibition that travels to different venue's where visitors can come and learn and enjoy. Managed by the Board of Deputies It will be in Dorchester Abbey as a co-operative project between the Abbey, CCJ and the Oxford Jewish Community from 13th to 26th October. This will be a fascinating event and we'll keep you posted once there are more details available.
Coming up in the Abbey next week is the traditional May Morning Breakfast with our local friends Two A Part singing from the top of the Abbey tower and then in the Church over Breakfast - tickets are available at Dorchester Post Office. This event will be raising money for the Nasio Trust Noah's Ark Centre in Kenya - most of Two A Part are visiting there next week and I'm going with them - so you might just hear a little more about that sometime soon!
(This Blog posted by Canon Sue)