Nancy Platts is right to avoid the husting debates

There has been some debate on Twitter, on the blogs and in comments on this blog regarding the decision by Nancy Platts to miss hustings so that she can be on the doorstep.

I don’t agree with the criticism of her.  Husting debates have their place, but often they are attended by boring anoraks like me and those who tend to hold firm views.  Yes, there will be some present who are yet to make their decision as to where they will place their cross.  Nancy will have missed an opportunity with them but what she is doing is prioritising where she will be most effective.

While Nancy has debating strengths, it is not her strongest asset whereas Caroline Lucas is a star performer.  Charlotte Vere has struggled but is getting more competent.  Where Nancy excels is on the doorstep, in one to one situations.  Nothing phases her, she comes across as enthusiastic, and is very engaging.  She is more likely to pick up support on the oorstep, and she is highly energetic.

I do hope, however, that she won’t avoid all the hustings, but she is ight to be selective what she does and where she goes.

Nancy and Caroline have everything to gain from Charlotte avoiding the Hustings

In a recent blog on her website, Chuck Vere reflects on whether to take part in hustings in the run up to the general election. In a later post she says “You see, if I am not there Labour and them Greens will fight amongst themselves – such a bad thing?”

I imagine the hustings in Brighton Pavilion will be most fascinating, and I can see why Chuck is in two minds about attending. Following the example of Labour in 1996/97, the Tories in 2009/10 are saying as little as possible in order to avoid making mistakes.  But unlike Labour in ’97, the Tories cannot assume an uncomplicated procession into Downing Street.  Its candidates are going to have to fight house to house and street by street in constituencies like Brighton Pavilion.  Hustings will be an important part of that.  Hustings at The Calvary Church will be just one of many that will be arranged.

What Chuck Vere has to do, and what she will find very difficult given the poor organisation of the Tories across Brighton Pavilion, is to get to meet and convince ordinary residents – those who have not moved to Brighton from London in the last five years – that she isn’t just another Tory on the make.  She may be comfortable at the Withdene Sportsman and in the company of members of the local Conservative Association, but how will she get on in Crabtree Avenue, in The Dip, and in Stephens Road.  When will we see her on the Number 46 bus? The Conservative Association is not strong beyond the outlying wards.

Caroline Lucas has the a similar problem, getting across to residents beyond the Muesli Belt where the Greens are particularly strong.  Caroline has momentum but not a strong organisation across the constituency.  Nancy Platts, who is running the most energetic campaign and who is seen around all wards, and understands why the bells tolling this evening at St Peter’s Church is significant, is hampered by a local Party on its knees.

The outcome of a three-way split, in an election campaign being waged by three extraodinary women, may be decided by hustings.  On that basis I would be delighted if Chuck Vere failed to show as it would give the edge to Nancy and Caroline.  However, in the interests of democracy I hope she will be there.