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.

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

  1. Hello.
    Did you actually read my blog?
    If you did – you will know the reason why I posted the comment about the weapons. The UKIP candidate used to be an arms dealer.
    At least you didn’t put me in with the nasty parties.

    I’m not a conspiracy theorist – I’m a realist who would dearly love a safe, healthy, beautiful, diverse and more equal planet for my children, and all future generations, to grow up on.
    Regards,
    Karen Varga
    Green Party PC Stratford on Avon

    Like

    • Dear Ms Varga,

      Thank you very much for taking the time to respond.

      I did take the time to seek out and read your blog. By ‘conspiracy theory’ I meant something much-discussed whose existence is doubtful; unfortunately, by seeking out and reading your blog, I did more to contact you than the Greens have done to contact me. In an election where, for once, all the Stratford PPCs have a chance of taking power, I’m even less inclined to give my vote (which, for once, seems quite precious) to a candidate who isn’t visibly engaging with the electorate.

      You haven’t doorstepped me or anyone I know. I work every day in the centre of Stratford-on-Avon, but I’ve never seen you. I also volunteer for Oxfam, and nobody seems to have heard of you there. I appreciate you have full-time commitments now, but campaigning has to be a less strenuous commitment than being an MP. I would love to have a female MP, and I’d certainly prefer the Greens to the Tories, but – as a realist – do you think your campaigning methods can work?

      I admire the idealism behind not putting leaflets together, but it privileges the people with the time and resources to seek out your blog – apart from a paragraph in the Herald, it seems to be the only way of contacting you (in fact, googling “Karen Varga Green” brings up my blog before it does yours). Facebook, Twitter etc won’t hurt the environment.

      I also want a safe, healthy, beautiful, diverse and more equal planet, but I don’t think the Greens will give it to me. It’s exceptionally kind of you to offer to send me a leaflet, and I’ll be in touch shortly.

      Thank you,

      Sophie

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  2. As well as being terribly bad for the environment, we also haven’t spent the 8-10,000 pounds it costs for a glossy freepost leaflet – as we don’t accept money from big business and private ‘donors’ so keep our campaign low cost. Would you like me to send you one of my very small, very cheap, very green leaflets for your board? If you email me your address to karen.varga@greenparty.org.uk I’ll pop one in the post (happy to pay the money out of my own pocket!)

    Like

  3. Hi,
    so – how do you feel about the Lib-Dems now I wonder.

    I suspect you are secure enough financially to not be feeling the cuts. Well for your sake I hope so – unlike my family and millions like us who have the mis-fortune to be affected by the double whammy of containing a disabled member and not being independently financially wealthy.

    The capitalist rhetoric of working hard, studying hard and trying hard somehow being a magic formula for wealth and happiness hasn’t seen fit to visit this little family -nor has it visited any of my good friends.

    So – do you think anyone will actually even bother to go and vote in the local elections?
    My prediction is a 30% turnout with the Tories as usual mobilising their votes and sweeping the board.
    I hope with all my heart I am proved wrong.

    Like

    • Hello again!

      I hope people will bother. I think nationally turnout may well be high, but that the direction of events in Libya could bring people back to the coalition. But yes, I can’t see much changing in Stratford.

      Bitterly disappointed in the Liberal Democrats, although dismayed that vilifying Clegg takes attention away from vilifying Cameron. Clegg deserves all he gets, but essentially it’s better to direct your venom and activism at hobbling a powerful man than that powerful man’s pet monkey. I also wish Labour would capitalise on the Lib Dems’ downfall more effectively than they are currently.

      But now:
      I suspect you are secure enough financially to not be feeling the cuts. Well for your sake I hope so – unlike my family and millions like us who have the mis-fortune to be affected by the double whammy of containing a disabled member and not being independently financially wealthy.

      In particular:

      I suspect you are secure enough financially to not be feeling the cuts.

      I’d be fascinated to hear what led you to that suspicion.

      Like

    • Fascinating.

      I am assuming from your general tone that you are anti-cuts. Presumably you are therefore aware that the general position of the anti-cuts movement is that everyone but the ultra rich will feel the effect of these cuts, whether it be in healthcare, higher education, jobloss, or provision of other public services.

      So what’s your excuse for coming back a year on to rub it in the faces of the people who didn’t vote for you? Do you feel this is an effective anti-cuts measure? Is your local party aware that this is how you have chosen to drum up electoral support?

      Can we expect the overall Green Party campaign strategy for the next election to be “leave snotty comments on blogs that you find in trackback links”?

      Like

  4. 2 degrees, doing a doctorate, time for reading books – guess you aren’t tied to the treadmill of wage earning and you have a computer – so you aren’t sleeping on the streets.

    Think with your brains, abilities and the opportunities you have had the chance to take full advantage of the best of the british education system.

    Stratford isn’t the cheapest place to live.

    Can’t see your photo well – but guessing if you can afford books, research, conferences and internet you are probably spending some money on food and clothes.

    Perhaps you are a poor orphan who is sponsored by a philanthropic pillar of the church?

    I’m only human. I fight my small personal idiosyncrasies and the prejudices that are an inherent part of my human nature and social conditioning on a daily basis – but occasionally , especially when my life is hitting a particularly low point as it is at the moment, I slip up. I apologise.

    Like

    • There is quite a gulf between sleeping on the streets and untouched by the cuts, though, isn’t there? I think if you were sleeping on the streets, you’d have mentioned that in your original comment.

      For what it’s worth: the conference I’m advertising at the moment, I’m organising so it’s not costing me anything. Of the other two I’ve attended, one was in Stratford and one was funded by (not a philanthropic pillar of the church, but) a travel grant from my university. I do work part-time, and I used to work three jobs to fund what I’m doing now.

      I don’t live in Stratford itself, as it happens – and while I agree that much of Stratford is exceptionally expensive in terms of housing, that’s not to say that it all is, even within walking distance of the centre, or that living in CV37 precludes financial difficulty in all forms.

      Concerning philanthropic pillars of churches, my undergraduate experience was made far easier by ongoing support from a parochial (if not actually religious) organisation which helps young people in financial need in Warwickshire (if you have young people in your family who could benefit, I’ll gladly pass on the details). This was before the recession began, and I was classed as “in financial need” for their purposes then.

      I am hugely lucky in my circumstances and the opportunities I’ve had, but I’m not untouched: not everybody in Oxford is a member of the Bullingdon and swigging champagne all the time. The rest of my circs. are private, as are yours.

      I’m really sorry you’re having such a bad time, and I warmly accept your apology.

      Like

      • Thank you Sophie.

        I am not sleeping on the streets – but I am insecurely housed, but that is another story and most of my circumstances are private, as are yours.

        I can ensure the other commentors that I have only replied back to this post today as I have had a little bit of time for a change so decided to update my blog for the first time in a long time, and happened to notice the original comment from clamorous voice, and thought I would ask the question. The vilification I have received, has I feel, been a little disproportionate. That is the problem with the internet though isn’t it – it allows people to become disassociated from the personal, a sin of which I too am guilty today.

        The Green Party does not have a whip, or a members rule book – we are allowed to behave and debate and believe what we like – which can make internal discussions interesting – so my local party would have no problem with what I have done today. Also – a sense of proportion – I am hardly an important figure on the world stage – I am an inconsequential nobody who just happened to voice an opinion – which as a free human being I am allowed to do – as are all of us lucky enough to have the means; physical, intellectual, and financial, to be posting here.

        I have now apologised for my comments and any personal offence they may have caused, and that apology has been accepted graciously. I would like to leave it there.

        Like

        • Being called on your behaviour by a handful of people is hardly the same thing as being vilified. The response you got was exactly what you deserved for coming to someone else’s website to spread your sour grapes around. To claim that it is “vilification” and then call on your respondents to show a sense of proportion is ridiculous.

          Maybe you could put “I am an inconsequential nobody” on your next set of campaign leaflets. Oh, wait…

          Like

      • Thank you Sophie.

        I am not sleeping on the streets – but I am insecurely housed, but that is another story and most of my circumstances are private, as are yours.

        To the commentors: I have only replied back to this post today as I have had a little bit of time for a change so decided to update my blog for the first time in a long time, and happened to notice the original comment from clamorous voice, and thought I would ask the question. The vilification I have received, has I feel, been a little disproportionate. That is the problem with the internet though isn’t it – it allows people to become disassociated from the personal, a sin of which I too am guilty today.

        The Green Party does not have a whip, or a members rule book – we are allowed to behave and debate and believe what we like – which can make internal discussions interesting – so my local party would have no problem with what I have done today. Also – a sense of proportion – I am hardly an important figure on the world stage – I am an inconsequential nobody who just happened to voice an opinion – which as a free human being I am allowed to do – as are all of us lucky enough to have the means; physical, intellectual, and financial, to be posting here.

        I have now apologised for my comments and any personal offence they may have caused, and that apology has been accepted graciously. I would like to leave it there.

        Like

    • I presume you’re aware of the cuts being made to education funding, including university grants? The author of this blog is, as you point out, the recipient of 2 degrees, currently studying for another. Cuts to education funding, libraries, social support, support for students with disablities &c &c will hit student and teachers right across higher education.

      I am sorry for your personal circumstances, but surely the only way we’ll succesfully fight back against these cuts is if there is a cohesive progresive coalition opposing them, not riven by internal backbiting and arguments as to who does and does not count as ‘affected’.

      And, on a more personal note, the fact that you sought out a year-old post from a (with apologies to clamorousvoice) minor blogger to make these arguments speaks volumes.

      Like

  5. Thank you clamorousvoice for such a measured, intelligent and polite reponse. One only wishes that members of political parties could behave with the same dignity – but then perhaps they would be worthy of our vote.

    Like

  6. I live in a bin in Wandsworth, and the reduced purchasing power of the local population resulting from the cuts has meant a lower volume of used packaging in my lounge. So I’ve actually benefited from the cuts.

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  7. Sorry not to comment before. I was too busy swigging champers, pissing on the homeless, burning a few hundred £50 notes for a laugh (daddy’s hedge fund profits for yesterday) and buying myself new clothes (tailored, naturally). Oh, and I bought a book and went to a conference from which I didn’t benefit at all because I was drunk.

    Only joking. I actually cycled to the library, made some notes, browsed the reduced shelf in Tescos and ate a 99p pizza for dinner. And I consider myself lucky.

    Like

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