Thursday, 24 February 2011
It relates to our candidate in Birkdale West Jack Smith Hughes and his conduct at the count and comes with an excellent provenance.
When it appeared that he had won – there were several recounts, the Tories in disbelief started looking under the table where the votes had been piled in the hope that a bundle or a few odd votes might have fallen to the ground. At this election the counting was being done in the local polling station. Birkdale West counted at the old Carnegie Library on Weld Road.
All of a sudden Jack stamped his foot as if he was standing on something. The Tory candidate, Major Downes, asked him to move his foot. Jack refused to budge. A request was made to the Deputy Returning officer to get Jack to move his foot. The Deputy Returning Officer was an elderly Alderman, who asked Jack to move his foot so he could see what was underneath. Jack was enjoying this enormously and again refused so a Constable was summoned and only then did Jack move but of course there was nothing there! Later as everybody trooped off to the Cambridge Hall (now the Arts centre) for the result to be declared to the waiting throng, Bob Molyneux, a highly respected Labour Councillor-whose widow lives in our Ward and who has a bench dedicated to him memory outside the Library. Said of the result “It`s enough to make Birkdale Town Hall fall down “.The old Town Hall – which dated back to the time when Southport and Birkdale were separate local authorities - adjoined the Library and it did fall down in 1969.
These events happened in 1961. There followed a period when the the seat was so safe for the Tories it was often uncontested. On one or two occaisons Liberals and Labour did put up a candidates. The chief reason we contested Birkdale West was to tie up the formidable Tory election machine which was largely female, most of whom were resplendent in twin set and pearls who would drive an army of cars all day taking their voters (and occasionally ours to vote) to the poll. Mrs Joyce Charlton, the Tory matriarch of the day admonished our candidate in the count on one occaision for conducting a dirty campaign. When asked what she meant she pointed out that we had had the cheek to stand. She and her helpers had therefore been deprived of a days golf at Royal Birkdale !
Many thanks to Michael Braham for original research. I am sure that readers will have identified him as the candidate who got the rough edge of Mrs Charlton's tongue.
Posted by iain at Thursday, February 24, 2011