Thursday night was the North East Hustings. Andy Whitworth had put a huge amount of time and effort into the hustings so we were hoping for a good turnout. Still, we were really worried (but not admitting it) that the local biking population might not be bothered or even care about the future 0f biking in the UK. As Lembit and some of Durham MAG got together in the meeting room things didn’t initially look good as with 10 mins to go there were only about 12 of us in the room. Andy and I were pacing the car park worrying how daft we were going to look if this didn’t work.
Ian Cook kept pointing out that these things generally run on MAG TIME which is some place non-defined and moveable between the Prime Meridian and 30 degrees West which means 7:30pm could be no earlier than 7:30pm but could potentially be up to 2 hours later depending where MAG TIME had wandered off to. My personal take on this is that when you’re close to such a massive object like Ian Cook the gravity field generated causes time to run more slowly to an outside observer.
Then seemingly from no-place the room started to fill up and continued to fill up, the start time had to be set back as more and more folks arrived until eventually every seat as full, there was standing room only at the back and the area behind the bar even filled up with folks looking for a space! Lembit was in full David Dimbleby Newsnight mode and the Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPC’s) were superb, Cons, UKIP, Greens. Sadly the Lib Dems dropped out at the last minute due to a non-specified illness. That the illness was the Candidate or the Lib Dem party I’m not sure. Labour locally refused to engage so were replaced by a stuffed bear called ‘Ed’ with a red rosette on his chest, but then in this seat they’d elect a donkey if it had a red rosette on its ass. Or an ass with a red donkey on it, either way, you’ll get the drift. To be fair the Blaydon PPC said he would have loved to attend but was already booked for a meeting that night.
Lots of unexpected representatives from local bike clubs turned up. It was brilliant to see so many there The Panthers en-mass who would have received the ‘club turn out’ award had we thought to have one, couple of Dragonslayers and lots of independent bikers and MAG members from across the Region, Steve Grey even turned up from Yorkshire!
It has to be said the questions and comments from the floor were superb and showed just how well informed some of the biking community are. It was really good that these PPC’s started to see things from our point of view, the Green PPC has gone away wanting to have the Green’s re-write their manifesto on bikes! While none of them will get elected this time round it was good that we could sow our seeds in their minds and that they could take on-board our issues. And that’s the key issue, none of these PPC’s had ever engaged with powered two wheel road users before. So in future instead of simply accepting the acts and facts put forward by Whitehall civil servants they now have an understanding of our point of view and our issues. This is how we start to influence the development of policy. There’s stuff I’d love to tell you but I can’t until after the election, Lembit has me sworn to secrecy. When Parliament was dissolved we had just under 50 MP members which makes MAG the largest cross party political body in Westminster! Quite a thought.
A huge Thank You goes to Andy Whitworth for pulling this together and everybody else that took part in the behind the scenes work, especially Avril (Hansard) for her feverish scribing.
In every region in the country MAG has now spoken directly to the Prospective Parliamentary Candidates, and given riders their chance to discuss their issues with the PPCs.
In every region in the country the Prospective Parliamentary candidates have listened to what Riders and MAG have to say and responded positively.
On every occasion PPCs have gone away with a new view of riders and their concerns.
Several PPCs have ended meeting stating they intend to do everything they can to alter, amend and change their parties transport policy to better support powered two wheel road users.
NE MAG Regional Rep