Harrow County School for Boys

Harrow County By-Election, 1962

In the photographs, which were taken by Nicholas de Lange, are in order,
1.  John Weeks, the Conservative Candidate, during the mock election rally. 
2.  The
  mock election rally.
John Weeks again.
4.  The mock election rally.

A tall, debonair Socialist, who was followed everywhere by eager bands of the younger members of the electorate; a bespectacled, studious looking Liberal, followed even more eagerly by bands even more youthful; a National Conservative in the shape of "an adorable fat man", as he called himself, of somewhat unknown quantity; a jingoist modernist, full of New Imperialism, followed in turn by shouts of "Fascist!", flutterings of the Union Jack and bleatings of "Land of Hope and Glory"; a witty, wise, Worcestershire gentleman, who, while bearing no physical resemblance to that grouse-shooting gentleman, was full of his mannerisms and gestures, in fact, a true blue Conservative.

It was with these five contrasting figures that the electorate was confronted during an intense, noisy, effervescent fortnight of political campaigning, which left five weary and hoarse politicians none the worst for those hazardous moments.  Despite the bellowings, the megaphones, the please, commands and requests, none of the candidates enjoyed a meeting devoid of banner waving, chanting and heckling.  Despairing though the candidates must have been, they knew that behind them stood the party machine, led by their fanatical agent, which produced posters, pamphlets, letters, and not least, a precarious one pound deposit, which stood to be forfeited if 12% of the votes cast did not fall to them.

Not an atom of authenticity was overlooked; a full-scale Gallup-Poll was conducted, and its findings, apart from an exaggeration of the Liberal's percentage, was reasonably accurate.

I, as Returning Officer, was inundated with as many complaints as the Complaints Department Manager of a large store must receive in a year.  Defaced posters, threats, attempted bribery, points of order, irregularities of the constitution -  every possible offence, it seems, was committed.

However, grievances were quickly forgotten when Election Day itself arrived, and the polling station officilas dealt efficiently with the 80.2% of the electorate who voted.

Harrow County Ward, it seems, is following the trend of Liberal revivals.  Mr. Fulton polled 321 votes and incidentally retained the seat previously held by Mr. Drinkwater.  The Liberal candidate gained 43.6% of the cvotes cast, and following him came Mr. Weeks, Conservative, 178 votes.   Mr. McWilliams, New Empire Party, polled 121 votes, and Mr. Bush, Socialist, just retained his deposit with 96 votes, but Mr. Kraty, the National Conservative candidate, had to forfeit his, gaining only 10 votes.

No one could be found "responsible" for the election, but all who participated, whether mere elector or the victorious candidate, learnt something of elections and election procedure.  I, for my part, now appreciate the difficulties of the poor, defenceless, over-worked Returning Officer.  Needless to say, I enjoyed every minute.

P. J. Gold

Source: Gaytonian 1962

(Ironically, it was the Returning Officer, Peter Gold, who went on to be a Liberal Parliamentary Candidate, and only missed election, for Wells, in 1997 by a few hundred votes. - ed.)





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