Old and bold
PUBLISHED: 17:50 23 July 2008 | UPDATED: 15:02 25 August 2010
CALLING your constituents a bit past it is never going to be an obvious way for an MP to drum up votes.
CALLING your constituents 'a bit past it' is never going to be an obvious way for an MP to drum up votes.
But this did nothing to deter Nick Raynsford MP (pictured right) from doing just that amongst hundreds of influential middle-aged members of the Friends of Greenwich Park, on July 15.
The plucky Labour man caused quite a scene in the Old Royal Naval College during an open debate on whether to oppose holding the 2012 Olympic equestrian cross country in the park.
Standing to speak in favour of the event, Mr Raynsford was vigorously heckled by members.
Around 80 per cent of the members were already fuming at what they see as a top-down decision to wind a horse-racing track around the entire world heritage-protected park.
But getting into his stride, the MP went on to tell the silver-haired crowd: "You are like me - a bit past it. Young people support this event."
He then lectured his flabbergasted audience on how young people, including his sprightly work experience pupil from John Roan School, love the idea.
Since the government and various international bodies have already decided on Greenwich Park, there is little point in throwing a tantrum now, the Cambridge-educated MP reasoned.
The crowd were furious at the belittlement, not to mention shocked at the departure from their usual discussion of daffodil budgets.
A woman next to Mr Raynsford leapt up and shouted: "Well there you have it straight from the horse's mouth: 'F*** off!'"
It's hard to tell if her pun was accidental or a flash of genius, but she followed it perfectly by ripping up her voting card and sending it fluttering over the seething crowd.
At this point even the members supporting the cross country were grumbling: "The man isn't exactly adding to the debate".
Despite the chair trying to tell the all but rabidly foaming Mr Raynsford to stop before a riot broke out, the indefatigable MP carried on like a pro.
Now in full public-speaking gallop, nay charge, he told the crowd that if they voted to boot the cross country from the park, they'd feel a sense of purpose but get nowhere.
Well, would you believe it, they didn't listen and around four fifths of the crowd voted against holding the cross country event in Greenwich Park.
We're not quite sure what this means for the Friends - it's hard to see barristers chaining themselves to trees in protest.
But judging by this bout of action, it may be worth shelling out the £5 membership fee just in case Mr Raynsford decides to pitch in again. . .