Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Tim Farron's hovercraft ride keeps up a Liberal tradition

Exciting times at Burnham-on-Sea today as Tim Farron and Tessa Munt visited the Hovercraft Search and Rescue Centre.

Tim spoke to the workers, media and supporters before taking a ride in one of the things.

Which reminds me of two earlier encounters between Liberal leaders and hovercraft

In 2008 Nick Clegg and Tessa made the same visit to Burnham.

And Rod Liddle once told the story of Jeremy Thorpe's 1974 visit to Sidmouth:
I sat in the bar with a drip feed of genteel alcohol and listened to one of the younger locals — he'd have been in his late seventies, I would guess — talk about the last time there'd been a shipwreck in these parts. 
They all remembered it very well, though it must have been 30 or 40 years ago now. A privately hired hovercraft had, somewhat ill-advisedly, attempted to gain access to Sidmouth harbour. It was not successful in so doing, apparently. Some way out it foundered and began to sink. And yet this terrible wrecking also brought forth bounty of a kind. 
As the craft flapped pointlessly in the surf, many yards from shore, a magisterial figure in a smart suit emerged from within its bowels and waded, with steadfast expression and immense resolve, through the waves, a look of destiny upon his face. 
People looked on in amazement and trepidation. For it was the Right Honourable Jeremy Thorpe MP — and he'd come to do a spot of canvassing.
Hovercraft, incidentally, have proved something of a disappointment. Back in the 1960s hovercraft rides or displays were part of every ambitious fĂȘte and we were in no doubt that they were going to be part of the future. Somehow it never quite happened.

Jonathan Meades was right when he said that the future happened briefly in 1969.

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