The Candidate’s Aide’s Briefing – Lesson 4 – Jeremy Thorpe

Jerermy Thorpe

You may have heard the story about Jeremy Thorpe and the hovercraft, but what about the one on the back of a land rover?!

As readers will know Jeremy Thorpe was the Liberal leader between 1967 and 1976.  His leadership ended rather abruptly but notwithstanding this two stories stand out about Jeremy, and moving vehicles, that form the last instalment of the candidate’s aide series.

As many will know Jeremy Thorpe conducted a tour by hovercraft along the south coast in the 1974 (I presume spring) general election.

The tour was certainly noticeable with Jeremy leaping from his craft in full three piece suit and trilby.  However, it ended in slight calamity when it burst.  I would recommend against hovercrafts as a means of transport in elections as they are much more subject to the elements than others.

I have a vague recollection of a by-election candidate using a canal boat to launch his campaign in the 1990s, which appeared sedate enough, but still managed to fall in the canal!

But a lesser known story of Jeremy Thorpe’s is a visit to South East Cornwall constituency, then called Bodmin, in 1966.

Peter Bessell, the local Liberal MP, campaigning hard to retain his seat employed an open topped Land Rover to tour the constituency and make impromptu speeches from the back.

It was a marvellous device, and has been used in many other areas since.

Arriving in a small moor land village on Bodmin Moor, travelling with Jeremy Thorpe, Bessell turned on the megaphone:

‘HELLO MINIONS,’ came the cry from Bessell.

Before he could continue Thorpe grabbed him by the arm.

‘I don’t think you can call them minions! Serfs perhaps?!’

The small village, called Minions, did not receive a lengthy visit from the pair.

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  1. Daily View 2×2: 6 November 2009

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