Nineteen-year-old Dan was the Man at Guardian hustings event

Dan Wilshire (centre) stole the show according to reporter Allister Webb.
Dan Wilshire (centre) stole the show according to reporter Allister Webb.
  • Wilshire eloquent – Hayes assured – job done for Parsons – Mahabadi impressive – Smid solid
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We asked a neutral reporter from King’s Lynn to assess each candidate’s performance at the Spalding Guardian and Lincolnshire Free Press hustings event on Thursday evening. Here’s what Lynn News chief reporter Allister Webb thought...

Afterwards, however, it could only refer to the man who really did steal the show on the hustings platform.

It isn’t Dan Wilshere’s age alone that makes the Green Party candidate so impressive. It’s the whole package.

He spoke eloquently, argued his points well, knew his policies and, above all else, allowed you to believe him. Not so much believe in him, but believe that this is a man who wasn’t simply presenting some sort of polished version of himself but him as he is.

It was a performance that deserved to attract support and, whatever happens in the next couple of weeks, I suspect we’ll hear a lot more of him in the future.

As for the rest, Conservative John Hayes gave the sort of assured, confident performance one might expect of a man who has represented the area in Westminster for almost as long as his Green rival has been alive.

David Parsons addresses the crowd

David Parsons addresses the crowd

As an exile, he beautifully summed up the county I still call home, though I was relieved when he stuck to politics rather than poetry.

And he certainly served up the headlines when he vowed to resign from government if his leader reneged on an EU referendum or did a deal with UKIP, the first of which went down very well in the hall.

If Mr Hayes appeared confident and re-assuring, UKIP’s David Parsons was very much the fall guy, the butt of many of the jokes.

Yet, as much as he tried to push his message of “new politics”, and played on the established parties’ note swapping on the panel, he was always going to be the most vulnerable to attack and/or ridicule.

He spoke eloquently, argued his points well, knew his policies and, above all else, allowed you to believe him

And while his past may have come back to haunt him, not for the first time, he did at least avoid any gaffes. To that extent at least, job done.

Where I suspect he was right, however, was when he suggested that any of the panel would make a good constituency MP, and that is particularly apparent with Labour’s Matthew Mahabadi.

While I await news of the outcome of his plea to the domestic electorate over his absence from wedding planning, he was another impressive young candidate.

It was no surprise to hear Mr Hayes tell him afterwards that he will be an MP one day. I’d be very surprised if he isn’t, though, after hearing him say he was driving through the fields before the debate, I can’t resist saying I’d rather he stuck to the roads.

The candidates flanked by editor and host Jeremy Ransome (left) and reporter and chairman Winston Brown (right). From left:  Matthew Mahabadi (Labour),  John Hayes (Conservative), George Smid (LibDem), David Parsons (UKIP) and Dan Wilsire (Green).

The candidates flanked by editor and host Jeremy Ransome (left) and reporter and chairman Winston Brown (right). From left: Matthew Mahabadi (Labour), John Hayes (Conservative), George Smid (LibDem), David Parsons (UKIP) and Dan Wilsire (Green).

Which leaves us with the Liberal Democrat George Smid, and just because I’ve mentioned him last doesn’t mean I rated him worst of all. While I heard that he came across well in the hall, he didn’t seem to come over as well on the spin table, so to speak, backstage.

He was solid and unspectacular, though his line about how nobody moved out when he arrived was one of the more memorable.

So, at the end of it all, will blue still be the colour of South Holland on May 8? Even if it is, I suspect there could well be a bigger hint of green there.

George Smid addresses the audience.

George Smid addresses the audience.

The candidates about to take their seats.

The candidates about to take their seats.