Stratford-on-Avon PPCs: Zahawi, Johnston, Turner et al (and why you should save your spin for the Bodleian)

My prized collection of spin, hope and lunacy.

The John Johnson Collection, the Bodleian Library’s Archive of printed ephemera, are collecting material related to the General Election. If you have received any leaflets/postcards/scratch ‘n’ sniff perfume samples from your PPCs, don’t throw them away! Election ephemera can be sent direct to the relevant librarians – email me at clamorousvoice [at] gmail [dot] com to learn more.

PPCs for Stratford-upon-Avon (as of 29th April):

Conservative: Nadhim Zahawi
Labour: Rob Johnston
Liberal Democrat: Martin Turner
Green: Karen Varga
Independent: Neil Basnett
English Democrats: Frederick Bishop
UKIP: Brett Parsons
BNP: George Jones

What I’ve learned about these candidates, so far

In February, the blogosphere claimed that Zahawi had received “the promise of a safe Conservative seat” in Stratford – “ultra-safe”, according to the Voter Power Index. For a while, Jeffrey Archer’s crony looked set to become the Midlands’ latest British Asian Tory poster boy, along with the charismatic Allah Ditta, Worcester’s first Asian Mayor. Now, however, Independent Neil Basnett has frothed up to split the right-wing vote. He’ll do well – if Stratford’s unhappiest Tories are too blinded by bigotry to notice his lack of policies.

Meanwhile, Rob Johnston’s got himself a PPC webpage – even if it is empty – and was sighted at Alcester Grammar School. A schoolfriend of mine claims he bought her a drink and was nice (perk up, Johnston, I agree being given S-on-A to fight is shitty, but there’ll be another election soon and important people are watching). Martin Turner‘s a Baptist and knows a sheep farmer. Vince Cable likes him (Turner, not the shepherd). Karen Varga may just be a conspiracy theory. No, wait, she has a blog. The most recent entry starts “Weapons kill – no seriously“. I think I’ll vote for the sheep.

Stratford also boasts three nationalist-slash-racist-slash-embarrassing candidates, in the form of Frederick Bishop, Brett Parsons and George Jones (I shan’t link to them). From what I can gather, the English Democrats hate everyone who’s not English, UKIP hate everyone who’s not British, and the BNP hate everyone who’s not white (and British. And Christian. And straight). George Jones doesn’t look quite as hilarious as the pencil sketch I posted two weeks ago, but does resemble Fagin’s seedier half-brother.

Which is ironic.

I can’t vote Labour. I think the Liberal Democrats (and, realistically, a coalition government/hung parliament) are our best hope for a) change and b) the destruction of the New Conservative dream. I just hope Nick Clegg doesn’t meet any bigots in the forthcoming week. I bet Murdoch wouldn’t have broadcast Cameron with his microphone left on.

1970s and 1980s earrings (I have wonky ears but my mum doesn’t)

1980s vintage earrings

A Stratford-on-Avon voter has just 0.078 of a vote. That’s less than 8% of a real vote, based on constituency size and the prospect of the party in power changing. I may be more optimistic than the Voter Power Index, but it’s still a bit depressing.

So have some earrings. Vintage earrings.

These beautiful confections of plastic, glass, sci-fi glitter, seashell and bronze are authentic late 70s/early 80s earrings. Which is a bloggy-vintage-yah way of saying, “they belong to my mum”. ♥

What do you think?

BNP contest Stratford-on-Avon seat in General Election

According to local media reports, the BNP will contest Stratford-upon-Avon’s seat on 6th May. The candidate is Stratford-born George Jones, now living in Kenilworth. Anti-fascist blog Norfolk Unity has the following scary detail on Jones, from when he unsuccessfully contested the Lawford & New Bilton local election in 2006:

George has a long history in extreme right wing politics. In the late-1970’s he was a member of the British Movement, then run by “Mad Milkman” Michael McLoughlin, but somehow became associated with former members of the National Party splinter group in Coventry and Warwick – notably with Michael Cole, the National Party’s hyperactive (and not entirely trusted) Warwick organiser, and also with Robert Relf, the Leamington “race rebel” imprisoned for displaying a sign declaring his house for sale to “English people only”.

Relf had long been associated with the British Movement and Colin Jordan (who lived in nearby Coventry), while Cole, who – like Relf – made no secret of his Nazi views, eventually found his way to Denmark to help in the running of a now forgotten Nazi organisation.

Jones, Cole and Relf were also close associates of the hardline elements within Coventry National Front, who followed John Tyndall into the BNP’s New National Front predecessor.

Like most of the racists in the Coventry/Warwick area, keen rambler George had an abiding interest in all things Nazi. We feel pretty sure that if George’s interest in such dubious matters is on-going then he may well have neglected to mention as much to the electors of Long Lawford and New Bilton – as he may well have neglected to mention the contents of a letter published by the Leamington Courier all those years ago, still existing as yellowed archival hard-copy, wherein George suggested that the release into the air on a favourable wind of a few grammes of a certain noxious substance would solve the problem of Third World overcrowding at a stroke.

Ho hum.

A man like this cannot represent Stratford. Home to the world’s greatest theatre company, and birthplace of a man whose plays – whose writings on humanity – transcend gender, race and time, we’re not a town for racists and fascists. By its nature, its economy and its history, this town survives by welcoming international visitors & international residents. I’m so embarrassed that the BNP think they stand a chance here, but after the racist responses to Nadim Zahawi, I’m not surprised.

The BNP website has no definite news on Jones’s campaign, as yet (and to be honest, I’m not ecstatic about checking back too often).  This blog (from May 2006) seems to contain an example of George Jones’s 2006 campaign literature. I’ve reproduced it below: if accurate, then Stratford’s non-fascist, non-racist, non-lunatic residents perhaps have little to worry about…

Whose idea was the picture? It makes him look like an effeminate Dr Crippen.

Obviously, much has changed since 2008. The BNP has learned to use Blogspot, for one thing, and – apparently – developed a spectacular sense of irony. West Midlands BNP Press Officer James Whittall said the BNP was “certainly not targeting ethnic minorities”, in a press release equalled only by papal claims of being “not even a bit Catholic” and the Bear Council of Great Britain’s assertion that members “no longer shit in the woods”. I have a nasty feeling this might be BNP ‘rising star’ James Whittall, celebrated by various far-right Midlands blogs (to which I’m unwilling to link). Doubtless we shall hear more from him in due course.

Rob Johnston: have you seen this man?

I’d  like the chance to vote Labour, but  was beginning to doubt the Labour Party even had a PPC for Stratford. It seems they do: Rob Johnston. A man who doesn’t have a personal website, a significant online/news presence, or any obvious policies.

What he’s got is a Facebook group. And that’s all.

Perhaps I should be grateful. Apart from attending one save-the-fire-stations rally, Johnston’s total lack of visibility may help swing the small Labour vote towards the Lib Dems. In combination with the fact the Stratford Tory vote will now be split between two (or potentially three) candidates, this might be enough to help the Lib Dems outrank a weakened, disparate Tory party.

One point in Johnston’s favour: he does appear to be UNISON Area Organiser for Birmingham (not sure how he does that, from Derbyshire, or how it sits with the comrades that his FB photo shows him sitting next to Mandy). And he’s probably a perfectly nice bloke. But there’s still no way he can do significant damage to either of the other parties if he doesn’t make himself known in South Warwickshire.