Anarchic fun ahead at mock mayor elections

First published in thisisoxfordshire: Photograph of the Author by

Get drunk and make promises you can’t keep is the refreshing advice for political hopefuls in a West Oxfordshire election.

Woodstock will be filled with anarchic fun tomorrow when the traditional mock mayor ceremony takes place.

The event, which dates to 1786, sees a mock mayor elected by residents in Old Woodstock to rival and ridicule the town’s actual mayor.

It was created because Old Woodstock residents were upset the town hall was built in the new part of the town in 1786.

To become mock mayor, residents make a speech outlining outlandish promises they cannot possibly keep, such as free alcohol for the year.

The incumbent mock mayor, Lee Saxton, 41, of Old Woodstock, said: “I would recommend not being sober – that helps.

“Last year I promised to get rid of the Duke of Marlborough but that did not do too well. He never responded to my phone calls.”

The day culminates in a procession from Old Woodstock to the town hall so that the mock mayor can turn his back on Woodstock’s mayor.

The procession then returns to the Black Prince at 6pm, where the mock mayor is duly dunked in the River Glyme and a pig roast and live music begins.

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Oxford United chairman Ian Lenagan, who reinstated the election 25 years ago, said: “It is a fabulous tradition.”

Mock mayor organiser Nick Mason, who is also watch manager at Woodstock Fire Station, said: “It is one of those traditions that makes our country great and is another thing that makes Woodstock such a great place to live.”

Mr Mason had the following advice for prospective mock mayors: “Just make up a ridiculous story and promises you are definitely not going to keep – basically be a politician.”

Woodstock mayor Brian Yoxall said: “It is all tongue in cheek.”

The celebrations also raise hundreds of pounds for charity – this year’s good cause is Woodstock Stroke Society.

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