Buttercross, January 30, 2015: Memories of elections past

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Well, like it or not, we are moving inexorably towards another general election, with polling day now less than 100 days away.

It has been well documented following past elections that voter numbers have been decreasing but it is thought that the 2015 election may see a resurgence in numbers.

A great deal has been made over recent months, and certainly since the European elections, about some of our smaller parties beginning to be heard and related to, and that interest does not appear to be waning.

Additionally, of course, we have the Scottish National Party performing strongly north of the border. Will the occupants of those benches in the House of Commons be a vastly different bunch in a few months ? We will soon have the answer.

We in Swaffham do not get so quite as involved in the organisation of the voting process as we used to. The South West Norfolk “count” used to take place in our Assembly Rooms, with the result being announced on the day after the election on the steps at around mid-day.

Large crowds were always present with the buzz of expectation in the air. Some may remember at one election one Freddy Croydon with his large red flag standing under the Buttercross, encouraging voters of a particular persuasion forward, this being in the early 1960s. Real passion and commitment.

Others perhaps will remember the visit of Sir Alec Douglas-Home when he gave an election address on our market place. Sir Alec became our Prime Minister in 1963.

On the lighter side, one victorious candidate in slightly earlier times, while being carried shoulder high through the crowds, had a large hat pin thrust into a prominently protruding area. Chortles at the time, at least amongst some, but which almost certainly would have resulted in an assault charge if executed these days.

Finally, in this little look back on earlier times, during the later stages of the count one year, one of the tellers, well known locally, appeared at one of the large curtained windows, and quite unlawfully gave the “thumbs up” to a section of the crowd, who then assumed that they could guess his particular political persuasion.

A fairly large and premature celebration then occurred, only to be cut short when the actual result was declared. Too late they discovered that he was, in fact, a supporter of the other side.