An Audience with Ann Widdecombe

Sheringham Little Theatre

Had I stumbled into a pre-election rally for the North Norfolk Conservative Association? It was billed as a show for the general public, a conversation with political commentator Iain Dale.

What followed was certainly not a conversation, the public was anything but general and Mr Dale metamorphosed from commentator to local Tory parliamentary candidate. Introduced as “the blonde bombshell star of Celebrity Fit Club”, what we got was the indomitable Ann Widdecombe, preaching to the Party faithful, peddling her unique matron-knows-best brand of no nonsense absolutes and “no-sex-no-violence-no-swearing” novels.

I almost felt sorry for Mr Dale: in part one, he dutifully provided the prompts; but in part two, with the audience asking the questions, Miss Widdecombe took over and he sat like a lost prop which the crew had forgotten to remove.

Appearing somewhat bored in part one, in part two she was in full flow. Showing no signs of self-doubt or intellectual equivocation, she pontificated on subjects from the euro (anti) to Clare Short (behaved badly) with some didactic stunners: “We (the Conservatives) are naturally the most inclusive party” and “There is a huge moral imperative to create wealth.”

From the outset, Ann Widdecombe had the sell-out audience laughing at her jokes, concurring with her views and applauding her exhortations.

Feeling very much in the minority, I rushed away at the close like a fox from the hounds.