Last night I was in Oakham, Rutland to chair an election hustings organised by the Federation of Small Businesses, and a very lively event it was too. The panel consisted of local MP Alan Duncan, his Labour and LibDem opponents and two local businesspeople. The evening started on a controversial note when the UKIP candidate complained he had not been invited onto the panel. As soon as he opened his mouth, it became clear why. If I had allowed him to he would have sent the 100 strong audience to sleep within minutes.
Anyway, that's not the point of this post. The point is this. After the evening had ended, I tweeted that I had found the LibDem candidate, Grahame Hudson, very impressive but the Labour candidate less so. In fact, not at all. Immediately, I was bombarded by LibDems who presumed that I would therefore support Hudson over Alan Duncan (as if) and by one or two Conservatives who felt it was terrible of me to say anything nice about a political opponent.
Doesn't this just illustrate what's wrong with politics? In the hustings, both Alan and Grahame often agreed with each other. Indeed, to be fair the Labour guy, John Morgan, agreed with the other two very occasionally.
And there's nothing wrong with that. It doesn't mean anyone's about to defect. It doesn't mean you're betraying your own party when you find common cause with others. Just because you can admit to finding an opponent impressive, does not mean you are encouraging others to vote for them.
Just to be clear!