A view from the chair at the King’s Lynn hustings

Lynn News Hustings at COWA'left to right Henry Bellingham, Toby Coke, Jo Rust, Michael de Whalley and Hugh Lanham
Lynn News Hustings at COWA'left to right Henry Bellingham, Toby Coke, Jo Rust, Michael de Whalley and Hugh Lanham

I’ve always admired David Dimbleby and, having taken the chairman’s seat at our hustings event on Tuesday night, that has deepened!

It’s fair to say the nerves started to kick in sometime on Monday so, by the time we got going, I was about ready for some sort of political war.

Lynn News Hustings at COWA ANL-150422-085451009

Lynn News Hustings at COWA ANL-150422-085451009

So, was there a game-changer in the battle for the North West Norfolk constituency?

Probably not, but there were a couple of moments which did catch the chairman momentarily off-guard.

One was an unusual moment of political clarity when, during the discussion on immigration, Liberal Democrat candidate Hugh Lanham said: “I shouldn’t do this but I’ve lost the second point I was going to make.”

The other was on the same subject when, in an unexpectedly concise reply, the Green Party’s Michael de Whalley said: “I don’t think I’ve got much to add, thank you.”

Jo Rust and Henry Bellingham clown around before the start of the hustings on Tuesday. MLNF15AF04401 ANL-150422-174435001

Jo Rust and Henry Bellingham clown around before the start of the hustings on Tuesday. MLNF15AF04401 ANL-150422-174435001

I couldn’t help but wonder: “Why aren’t all the panellists always that compliant?”

The college had chosen the seating by rather charmingly colour coordinating their cables (mic not Vince) orange, green, red, purple and blue.

Holding the centre ground, on the stage at least, was Labour’s Jo Rust, who, in a nod to her party’s preferred electoral branding, could have been seen as a rose among thorns.

Having said that, the attempt to broker a grand coalition with the Tories, shown bottom right, might just need a little more work.

To her right, both physically and politically on this occasion, were the two most well spoken members of the panel, UKIP’s Toby Coke and Conservative Henry Bellingham.

If there was an audience “villain” of the evening, then Mr Coke would probably have been closest to taking the title, though he did, at least, restrain himself from following his leader in having a go at the assembled gathering.

Meanwhile, Mr Bellingham probably brought us closest of all to any fireworks among the panel, clashing with his Liberal Democrat opponent on jobs and his Labour rival on health.

But the exasperated “Come on” he uttered during the latter exchange is most likely echoed whenever the average voter tunes to Prime Minister’s Questions.

In truth, audience and panel were well behaved, which was just as well as I wanted to avoid being shouty.

So, coming off stage, I was genuinely surprised by the number of people who wanted to congratulate me.

In fact, the only person who didn’t seem that happy was my boss who, having reserved the chairman’s seat for me, then spent the evening racing around with the roving microphone as I sent him from one end of the hall to the other.

“You worked me pretty hard there”, he said.

Like chairing, it’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.