Really enjoyed Older People's Council hustings. Some great questions & interesting answers!I've heard the word husting(s) at previous British election times, but this time felt the need to look it up. Wikipedia tells me:
A husting (called a stump in the United States) originally referred to a physical platform from which representatives presented their views or cast votes before a parliamentary or other election body.We then have metonymic transfer to a name for the activity that traditionally went on on those types of platform. There's a nice little explanation of the terms on this University of Texas site. It starts:
[C]andidates for political office and an entourage of supporters, handlers, and journalists are said to go on the stump, or simply stumping.It goes on to distinguish between this sense of stump and another (orig. AmE) sense of the verb to stump: 'to befuddle' before picking up on hustings:
It seems like a rather unattractive word to refer to a core activity of political campaigning – traveling from place to place making speeches in front of live audiences.
The presence of hustings on this American website indicates that the term is not limited to BrE--but it wasn't something I knew from my Democratic Party days. A quick corpus search (BNC versus COCA) had hustings occurring three times as often in BrE as in AmE (I was surprised it wasn't more). The last line of the above quotation indicates an area of difference. On the hustings accounts for more than half of the occurrences of hustings in the AmE corpus, but less than a third of the occurrences in the BrE corpus. The singular form husting does not occur in either corpus. Meanwhile, AmE stump speech, i.e. the speech that a candidate makes repeatedly at different locales, occurs 45 times per 100 million words in the AmE corpus and not at all in the British corpus.On the stump or on the hustings?
Sometimes when candidates are on the stump, we say that they are on the hustings. Hustings, according to The Word Detective comes from the Old Norse word husthing, meaning "house assembly."Centuries ago rulers might convene a husthing, usually composed only of members of the immediate royal household as opposed to a larger popular assembly of constituents, in order to gather advice or issue decrees. The English later adapted the word as husting to refer to the senior court of the City of London, and later narrowed the meaning to refer to the physical platform in that court where the Lord Mayor sat.Over time this last meaning was generalized to refer to any platform from which political candidates might address their audience, and more commonly today it refers to the campaign trail, which we also know as the stump. Notably, husting usually appears in modern English only in the plural form hustings, and then usually in the phrase on the hustings.
A hustings in BrE, at least, refers to an event where more than one candidate is present to debate and discuss issues with potential voters (as in the Older People's Council event that our candidates went to today). This differs from how the stump has developed--stump speeches are generally made without the presence of the other candidates. The OED, on the topic of this sense of stump:
And I'm just going to end here without further comment!
14. Originally U.S. a. In early use, the stump (sense 2) of a large felled tree used as a stand or platform for a speaker. b. Hence, ‘a place or an occasion of political oratory’ (Cent. Dict.). to go on the stump, to take the stump: to go about the country making political speeches, whether as a candidate or as the advocate of a cause.
In the U.S. the word ‘does not necessarily convey a derogatory implication’ (Cent. Dict.). In Britain, though now common, it is still felt to be somewhat undignified.