(stock image – not the actual woman!)
Well, at least she turned up! Our Tory candidate is refusing to even attend Sidmouth hustings, preferring to shop in Exmouth and Budleigh!
(not Jupp, stock image)
“It is a common dilemma for any hard-bitten politician faced with a hostile crowd: how best to make a sharp exit to avoid embarrassment?
For one 63-year-old Tory councillor confronted with a less than receptive audience during a climate crisis debate the answer was to clamber over some bins and scale a fence.
Nancy Bikson was a last-minute replacement for Conservative prospective MP Maria Caulfield, who was too “busy” to attend climate hustings for candidates in the key marginal seat of Lewes, East Sussex, at a school on Monday evening.
Explaining that she was afforded little time to prepare for the event organised by local groups, including a branch of Extinction Rebellion, Bikson said she would not be sticking around for questions after making a short speech. She attracted groans from the crowd, with one man heckling her before she even began speaking, asking: “Why don’t you go now?”
Bikson said she cared deeply about the environment and that she “did her bit” but concluded, to further groans: “It’s all about us, there is no such thing as government. Government is just people.”
Though she eventually attracted polite applause, Bikson left the stage after other candidates made speeches and the event was opened to questions from the audience.
However, when she left via the fire escape she found herself outside in a dead end as the school gates wwere locked. Rather than trudged back through the packed hall to get out, she pondered her predicament for up to 45 minutes before opting to climb over the fence.
Bikson’s great escape would have stayed secret were it not for a 13-year-old girl who saw the incident unfold at Priory school.
The teenager, who does not wish to be named, said: “I left about an hour early and about half an hour after she [Bikson] left the stage. I came outside and I was about to cycle off and she was behind the gate next to our school canteen which was locked and said: ‘Excuse me, can you help me?’ She sounded quite desperate. I said the only way back out is through the auditorium and that she said she didn’t want to go back through the auditorium because of everyone.
“She said: ‘They all despise me … and they don’t want me to go back in there.’”
Explaining she felt sorry for the stranded politician, the teenager added: “I went back into the canteen to try and open the door from the inside [allowing her a route of escape] but it was locked. Then I got a caretaker. I said a caretaker is coming but she said: ‘Don’t worry, I’ll just climb over the gate.’ And she got up on the school bins and climbed over the gate. She’d been out there for a while.”
After hearing the tale, the schoolgirl’s mother, who runs a business managing composers, brought the councillor’s ordeal to wider audience, posting on Facebook: “Lewes Tory MP Maria Caulfield failed to show for tonight’s climate hustings. Her last-minute replacement left the hall before the questions, having first explained that she knew nothing about climate or the environment.
“She was spotted by my daughter 45 minutes later still trying to find her way off the premises without having to go back through the hall. She ended up climbing the fence via the bins. Ignominious.”
Biksonapparently admitted her actions later, telling the Evening Standard on Tuesday “It was only because there wasn’t any other way and I didn’t want to disrupt everybody. It was either that or sit outside for a couple of hours.”
But when the Guardian rang to get her version of events she was tight-lipped, replying: “I can neither confirm nor deny, thank you.”
Lewes was previously held by former Liberal Democrat minister Norman Baker for nearly two decades before being won by Brexiter Caufield in 2015. But the Conservatives only have a majority just over 5,000, meaning the constituency, which narrowly voted remain during the EU referendum, is in danger of being won back by the Lib Dems this month.”