ARC DE TRUMPFAN / POLITICS OF DESIGN 5: ANNA SOUBRY

Less than a fortnight left, and the latest political leaflet for Chris Tregenza to examine and then repeatedly bang his head against the brick wall over; this time from Soubry and the Independent Change Something Something  Are They Still Going Party.

Chris also had a great spot while perusing Twitter – which he does each day in a manner that cannot be deemed healthy – and finding a rare tweet in support of banned-from-the-constituency Amy Della Mura:

amy1.jpgAh, ok. I’m sure Amy is a patriot in the sense of a mythical England with no brown people, homosexuals or anyone whose cultural outlook dares straight past 1952.

But hold on, who is that warrior behind the slogans?

EKS90CnWwAE6Mjh.jpg

Oh, hold on, isn’t that woman who fought in the 15th Century, whatshername….

EKS90jgWwAIPOJQ

Ah yes. Joan of Arc. That English patriot who loved this country so much she went to war against it. Joan of bleeding Arc.

Will the standards rise with our latest leaflet review? Over to Chris to find out….

Politics By Design – Judging politicians by their leaflets No: 5. – Anna Soubry – The Independent What-Are-We-Called Again Party

 

IMG_20191127_144719278_1574866276980

 Overall:   In a bold and expensive move, Anna Soubry has opted for a four-page tabloid newspaper as her latest leaflet. Given her previous leaflet was awful, I plucked this missive from my letterbox with trepidation.

Colour Use:  Whereas leaflets tend to be a glossy white paper, the quality newsprint used for Anna’s tabloid is a natural off-white. This works nicely with the overall colour palette however the designer has gone a bit over the top in giving each block of text or headline it’s own colour. The individual parts work well but collectively they lack cohesion or anything that ties them together. A problem which will sound familiar to Anna Soubry. 

Typography:  The body text is highly readable with a nice, crisp modern font and the headlines are similarly well done but with typesetting the devil is in the details. There’s about 10% more text then is really desirable. A sentence cut here, a word there would give the designer a bit more whitespace to play with. Plus the use of bold fonts in the body text is heavy-handed – almost as if Anna was leaning over the designer’s shoulder going “Bold that line, and that sentence, and that paragraph and that …”

There are some crimes against readability in the header and footer bars. Coloured text on a coloured background requires a very careful chosen palette when used on paper. I bet it looks great on the designer’s monitor but in print it’s a waste of ink. (If anyone wants my lecture on the difference between emitted colour and reflective colour, find me in a pub and wait until the third pint).

 Images:  The Good – Lots of photos of Anna with people, all clearly amatuer shots but decent photos which are used well to give a sense of authenticity.

The Bad – There’s a weird border applied to some text boxes. It’s use is erratic, pointless and the line itself is some odd micro-pattern. I think this is a deliberate choice but it could be a strange printing glitch.

The Downright Fuggly – The top-right of the back page is dominated by an ill-conceived, badly done graphic trying to show Soubry as the centre ground between the two extremes of Boris and Jeremy. I described a similar image on Darren Henry’s leaflet as a “gold-plated turd”, this one is more a goldie-looking turd.

Truthiness:  There are quite a lot of statements here about her constituency work and I’m pretty sure local Labour and Lib-Dem councillors will have views Anna’s claims. However there are no massive porkies.

Message:  There is almost no mention of Anna’s party name nor a single appearance of her party’s appalling logo. This is a smart move and I think it was a colossal mistake forming a political party in the first place. Setting themselves up as a loose group of truly independent MPs would have given Anna and her gang a unique selling point when large parts of the electorate are fed up with the major parties.

The paper focuses on two key messages – Anna the hard-working local MP and Anna attracting support from voters across the political spectrum. These are good choices but her role as a Remain hero (at least to some) is remarkably low key. This is a mistake.

Independent candidates cannot win seats unless they clearly stand for something. That’s why most who get elected tend to be single-issue candidates but according to this leaflet, Anna doesn’t stand for anything other than being a vaguely competent MP (citation needed) .Summary: Going with the tabloid paper format and getting a half-decent designer involved is a great move by Soubry but it falls short and fails to capitalise on the opportunity. Anna has escaped the fetid prison of the Tory party but like many ex-cons, she is struggling to define herself in the outside world.
—–
Chris Tregenza doesn’t have a real job so spends his time on Twitter as @Tregenza

CORBYN IN THE RYLANDS

Today’s the last day you can register to vote: if you’re uncertain that you’re not registered, then check and resolve, it takes a minute: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
We are in a very uncertain, very swing seat so your vote WILL be relevant: I hugely support electoral reform, but until we actually institute a better system I can take some solace that we don’t live in a safe seat.
Interesting morsel before I hand over to Chris Tregenza for the main meal: it seems several of the tactical voting sites have rescinded endorsements for Anna Soubry as the anti-Brexit candidate. I’m not sure what their assessment methodology is, or how it is subject to change, so can’t say what had precipitated this other than a rumoured private poll bringing up low numbers for the incumbent: any info on this will be gratefully received.
For our main piece today, Corbyn-sceptic Chris Tregenza went to see the Labour leader when he visited Beeston Rylands yesterday. If you were there, and have a different view, send it in to mattgoold23@hotmail.com
——————————

CORBYN IN THE RYLANDS

You cannot truly judge a politician until you’ve seen them speak, in person, to a live crowd. So many of the subtle clues we rely on to judge a person are lost when sounds and pictures are squeezed into a camera. Which is why I was standing in the rain outside a soaked brick building on the Trent-side edges of our borough (aka Beeston Rylands Community Centre)
Jeremy Corbyn’s battle bus was in town to drum-up support for Greg Marshal (Labour Party). Except it wasn’t drumming up support. There would be no opportunity for Greg & Jeremy to walk down the High Street, shaking hands with the public and posing for selfies. Instead this visit was firmly aimed at the Labour faithful in Greg’s political backyard.
That said, it says a lot for Greg’s campaign that he had several hundred supporters out on a wet Monday afternoon. I doubt Darren Henry could get triple figures of local supporters out on any day of the week, though he might if he called in friends from all the other constituencies where he has stood and lost.
This was my first time with Jeremy and I can honestly report there was magic in that room. I’ve never seen a politician so comfortable and natural chatting to members of the public. There was a genuine connection and Corbyn’s body language was empathetic and of someone in their natural environment. I doubt Jeremy appears this comfortable on his own sofa, watching Gardeners’ World. However once he began speaking to the crowd, talking to us not as individuals but as a collective mass, all the familiar problems came to light.
Corbyn in real life is surprisingly funny. Not professional comedian funny or even as funny as your mate down the pub funny, but decently funny for someone who does a serious job which occasionally needs some light-heartedness.
Yet this side of him also disappears when he switches from speaking with the public to public speaking.
A leading politician will give their stump-speech time and time again over the campaign

WhatsApp Image 2019-11-25 at 19.20.55

Corbyn  arrives

trail. Polishing and improving it like a comedian or band working on their act as they tour. Yet halfway through the campaign and Corbyn’s was dull. He often just lists the Government’s political crimes or how Labour will spend your money. As a speaker Corbyn doesn’t have a great vocal range nor is his body language dynamic but his true failing is his hard-left, comrades-I-wish-to-propose-a-motion, political up-bringing. He was formed and will be forever shaped in the faux-Soviet style of political discourse where the objective is to bore your opponents to death.

There is a fear of Blairism at the heart of Labour’s communication strategy. The logic goes like this – Blair was obsessed by image and soundbites, and started an illegal war which killed 100,000s of people. The hard-left don’t want to start a war so therefore they cannot be slick or use clever, media-friendly language.
And this is damaging both Jeremy’s and Greg’s election hopes.
It’s smart to go against Boris’ flimflam and waffle with in-depth proposals and intelligent arguments. The more serious Jeremy appears, the easier it is for the public to see Boris for the cad he is. But being serious and being boring are not the same thing.
The Blairite media machine produced some killer phrases which stuck in people’s minds and they condensed their 1997 manifesto in five definitive goals which ordinary people understood. With Corbyn we have a 140 page manifesto, which is the politicians way of throwing everything at a wall, and seeing what sticks.
Jeremy is great with people and his campaign is clearly based on talking to the public. Greg is great with people and he has a big team knocking on Beeston’s doors, talking to them one-on-one, making that human connection. But there are only so many people Corbyn can meet and only so many houses Greg can visit. A simple, understandable mass media message is vital for a party to reach all those other voters.
What sums it up is the end of Corbyn’s speech. He joked about the large size of the manifesto. He plugged the smart social media video where he does a 60 seconds summary of the manifesto. Then he said “Don’t worry if you can’t remember it all. There is only one thing you need to remember, one fundamental message …” and then went on to list six or seven – or was it eight? – different pledges. I don’t know. I’d stopped listening.
 —–
Chris Tregenza doesn’t have a real job so spends his time on Twitter as @Tregenza

ELECTION SPECIAL: CANDIDATE INTERVIEW 2: DARREN HENRY, CONSERVATIVE.

We now have our second candidate with Darren Henry, Conservative, who met late last week with our own Faith Pring. I’ve met him before myself, when he invited me out for a drink at the Vic. I went out of sheer curiosity: you may have gathered I’ve been rather unpopular with our Conservative PPC’s over the last decade. These are – as if you needed reminding – strange days.

An interesting recent development with Henry has been his new BFF: Calvin Robinson, former Brexit Party candidate who stood down when Farage decided to cash in their deposit money for a nice holiday   stand down candidates in Tory seats. 

Calvin has been acting rather erratically online of late, and we’ve had some interesting correspondence relating to other activity which we’ll publish next week. While Henry might be grateful of the support when many of his own constitency party have been open about not supporting him, he might want to be a little wary of who he keeps company with: after all, could you trust a man who was ready to put everything on the line to attack the exact same things he’s now happily supporting? Trust and sincerity mean a lot to voters, remember… 

Over to Faith. If you’d like to help support our rookie journos, please consider a donation to our fund to ensure they’re paid: I won’t  be taking a penny myself as editor|: everything goes to our small team who are dedicating themselves over the rest of the campaign to keep you informed. Takes two mins here.

Lord Beestonia

 

CANDIDATE INTERVIEW 2: DARREN HENRY, CONSERVATIVE.

Another day, another candidate interview, and this time we’re putting Conservative Darren Henry to the test.

Henry, a former Royal Air Force logistics officer, has replaced Anna Soubry as Broxtowe’s Conservative candidate, which means this election could cause quite a stir round here. It’s already caused some ructions in the local party. So, if you’re a keen Conservative voter, who exactly are you voting for?

“I was a logistics officer for the Royal Air Force, and worked as a Community Support Officer at a major flying station in Norfolk. I was responsible for looking after families, housing and I was a liaison with the local MP who was Liz Truss. In that job I thought ‘I’ve got a chance at a second career in this, I might just give it a go’,” Darren revealed.
“I finished in the military in 2013, and I joined the Conservative party in 2014. I got involved with them because of my parents, who were part of the Windrush generation, and their work ethic, and I also believe in the defence and security of our country. I had a go at being a businessman, and in the private sector but I preferred public service so returned to it.”
Whilst his CV and his experience would get him quite a long way in a job interview, how far will it get him in a general election? The one million pound question might be a good indicator – where does he stand on Brexit? I think we all know by now…
“In 2016 I voted Remain, but I was a reluctant Remainer, not that that matters. People

EJGicONX0AAPNcu

‘Reluctant’ remainer Darren Henry

are frustrated, even if they voted Remain. The people of Broxtowe voted Leave, and in the RAF we served to protect democracy, so I was motivated to support Brexit to get it done. Labour want to waste a year doing referendums, whereas the people have had enough of it. Once we get it done, we’ve got some great post-Brexit opportunities here and we can make sure we’re not forgotten.”

But surely a second referendum is still on the cards? Right?
“No, not at all. People will change their minds, I’ve changed my mind, but the people said they wanted to leave so we HAVE to leave. We don’t need another referendum just to change the outcome. People want to get on with their lives and they want you in parliament sorting out what they elected you for.”
So he can change his mind, and we cannot. Got it.
Darren’s most obvious rival in the upcoming election is Anna Soubry and the all but mysterious Remain alliance, but Darren seems to be somewhat unfazed by Anna’s presence in the constituency.
“In the past she’s been a good constituency MP but she’s lost her way. She’s determined to follow her own agenda and I don’t agree with it, others clearly feel the same way,” Darren claims.
Aside from local politics, Darren Henry is also a big fan of the Conservative party’s leader, and current Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, but he’s already got a fan in Darren, and he claims his popularity spans across the country.
“He’s got a very broad appeal around the country, which will be handy. He’s got an amazing knack at getting a good team around him and he’s doing that now. I’ve met him a few times, he came to George Spencer academy and is clearly very interested (though students were confined to classrooms, even if they had free periods and other stuff to do; other students who did get put in Johnson’s proximity were told not to mention any difficult subjects if they got a chance to talk to him -Ed) There is one of two people who can win this election and Boris will definitely be the best choice.”
So ultimately, why should you vote for the Conservative’s Darren Henry to represent you in parliament?
“I’m from here (despite still being a councillor in Wiltshire), and I only ever left to serve my country. Browtowe is home, I’ve got a very very very (!) strong connection here, but I’ve got real life experience and a broader view to bring to Broxtowe. It’s going to be tight but I think I can offer more. When I close my eyes and finish my life, it’s going to be here in Broxtowe, so it’s perfect for us.”
Wow, steady on there. Do you say that to all  your constituencies you want to stand in?
If one thing was clear after my interview with Darren, he’s obviously passionate about getting Brexit done. Whether that’s enough of a reason for you to vote for him, is, as always, up to you.
Faith Pring
_________________________________________________________

ELECTION SPECIAL: POLITICS OF DESIGN 3: MILITANT ELVIS; GETTING AHEAD WITH A HOOD; NASTY CANDIDATE BANNED FROM BROXTOWE

We have just three weeks before the campaigns cease, voters trudge to the polling booths and moan that elections in December are totally mad, and that three foot of snow that fell last night hasn’t helped stuff. Still, I discovered that my polling station is in a pub, so bonus. If I get trapped by inclement weather, I’ll be like those much-envied people who always get stuck in a remote pub when a blizzard hits, and have such a good time refuse all offers of help they are there until around June.

Some GREAT news: the nasty Amy Dalla Mura has been banned from campaigning in Broxtowe, so we’ll spared her hate and bile. Being banned from one of the most inland places in England is quite something when you take in account the fact she was banned from the ENTIRE BRITISH COASTLINE (!!) a decade ago. Good riddance, and ta for the £500 deposit money you won’t be seeing again.

_____

One of Beestonia’s favourite humans, Tim Pollard, switched on Facebook the other day and was rather shocked to find this image staring back at him:

pileus

Taken from the page of Corbyn-friendly blog The Pileus , it’s one of many memes that will be flooding your social media feeds for the next 21 days, and designed in a fashion that would cause our resident design reviewer Chris Tregenza (who reviews Lord Biro’s leaflet below this: keep reading!) a sizable coronary.

So why did Tim spit his tea out? He’s a mild-mannered chap and a fine writer – he’s being sending in top-notch copy to me for years that I’m proud to publish on The Beestonian. But that’s not all he does. Because Tim Pollard is also Nottingham’s official Robin Hood:

timp

Boy in d’ Hood: Tim Pollard.

Yes, we get the heavy-handed metaphor. Yes, Tim has politics that are left of centre. It’s the weirdness of waking up to find what you’d look like if you transplanted Corbyn’s head onto your own neck. That can’t be easy on a chap’s constitution. MEME MAKERS! -Just use the Kevin Costner ersatz outlaw and leave us Beestonians alone!

Now, over to Chris Tregenza for his round-up of local leaflets and what they *really* tell us, and at last, we have a leaflet we love:

POLITICS BY DESIGN No: 3. Dave Bishop – Militant Elvis Anti-HS2

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Overall:

Finally, a bold piece of design from a politician not afraid to push the boundaries.

Colour Use:

Setting himself apart from other candidates, Dave has eschewed colour all together. In a clear effort to target the vital retro-hipster voting block, this leaflet is a cheap photocopy harking back to the late seventies’ punk-zine aesthetic.

Typography:

A plain font for the body text (Windows 98 system font I think) was an excellent choice given the inevitable degradation inherent in photocopying. The text remains clearly readable, in part thanks to the bold use of whitespace and erratic, but effective, typesetting. Utilizing real cut-out letters (ransom demand style) for key parts of his message gives them that standout quality and adds well to the retro style of the leaflet.

Images:

Each side of the leaflet is a hand-drawn portrait of the candidate. The outsider-art approach to the drawing may put off some style-challenged voters (aka Brexit supporters) but it allows the candidate to add speech bubbles which add to the multilevel messaging the leaflet uses.

Truthiness:

There is not a single falsehood or misleading statement in the leaflet. Though I do

8B406B36-D3D3-47B5-A8D1-64F749F74BA3

The Hemlock Stone: Standing steady.

quibble at the claim that the Hemlock Stone will be “all shook up” as tectonic activity in Broxtowe is very rare and never reaches the magnitude necessary to damage sedimentary sandstone.

Message:

What this leaflet screams at the reader is that Dave Bishop is not afraid to challenge the status quo. Just as importantly it focuses on four key policies with broad appeal which are unambiguously communicated. Other candidates should take note and follow the ethos that less is more.

Summary:

This leaflet is damn near perfect as it completely encapsulates the character of the candidate. Broxtowe is lucky to have Dave Bishop as a candidate.


Chris Tregenza doesn’t have a real job so spends his time on Twitter as @Tregenza

ELECTION SPECIAL: POLITICS BY DESIGN 2: GREG MARSHALL

Intro: Lord Beestonia

The election is still in the phony war stage, whereby a lack of manifesto means no candidate can truly be sure what they represent (apart from Brexit Party candidates, who are representing ‘OMG it was a all a big con to rinse us of cash’ angle).

IMG_20191116_110842 (1)Saturday saw a quiet day in Beeston for political campaigning: the only street stall was that of some young self-identifying socialists who we can assume tacitly campaign for Greg; and, looking a bit bemused, Dave Bishop, aka Lord Biro, aka Radical Elvis. He was pacing the streets considering if he should set a pitch, but ‘It’s not fun without the others’. Instead he donned his Elvis top, and posed for a few photos while doing the ‘Thankyewverrehmuch’ Elvis pose.  Then went to the pub.

We will be continuing our interview series later this week with Darren Henry, Conservative Councillor whose selection has already caused a fair bit of controversy, before we get into the final three weeks of campaigning where things should get a bit more fierce. Keep your news, gossip and info coming in -email mattgoold23@hotmail.com if you wish to keep it confidential, otherwise leave a comment. And if you are enjoying our insights and want to help us continue providing the angle on the local battle that you simply won’t get elsewhere, please consider putting a few quid our way  – and thank you to those who already have. Takes a minute, simply by clicking here: https://www.paypal.me/BEESTONIA.

Now, over to our scrutineer of all things leaflet-like, Chris Tregenza:

POLITICS BY DESIGN | GREG MARSHALL, LABOUR

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Overall:  Dull and predictable using an HQ approved template with the name and constituency changed.

Colour Use: Red. Everything is official Labour red. The strong colour use is definitely the hand of a professional designer and almost certainly straight from Labour HQ’s talented design team.

Typography: The headline text and all the other elements from the template are clear and readable. Though there are some little oddities suggesting that new text has been pasted over the officially supplied text. The typography of the local text such as Greg’s personal message is weaker. The thin script font (Pine Nuts Light Expanded: https://www.whatfontis.com/NMY_Pine-Nuts-Light-Expanded.font ) requires a little more effort to read than it should. Add in the text being at a slight angle which in turn is a little off from the surrounding, jauntily angled boxes, plus there is a little too much text, and the impact and readability of the message is diminished.

Images: Dominating one side is a good photo of Greg looking dad-like in an open-collar shirt and jumper standing in front somewhere clearly identifiable as being in the constituency. The muted blue colour range of the photo nicely offsets the bold red of the rest of the leaflet. On the back is a group picture of supporters holding signs. The psychology of the picture is good – “I’ve got lots of enthusiastic supporters. They trust me, so you should to” – but the actual photo is a bit of a mess. Greg isn’t even the most prominent figure and the crowd looks embarrassed to be doing the left-wing, fist in the air, salutes.  

Truthiness: There’s not a great deal of detail on the leaflet so little to fact check. One interesting tidbit is that the claim that Labour’s Green deal will create new green energy 400,000 jobs without mentioning the same policy will threaten 280,000 old energy jobs. 

Message: Where’s Jeremy Corbyn? Is he such an election liability Greg daren’t mention party’s leader despite Corbyn having visited the constituency repeatedly. Brexit gets mentioned twice but without any detail as Greg desperately hopes people forget he is a remainer who for the last three years has been parroting the Corbyn line of “respecting the result”. What the leaflet repeatedly draws attention to is Greg’s local status both a councilor and resident which is good, but it’s a pretty weak selling point.

Summary: It’s OK. Like the candidate it is HQ approved and predictable. Nothing about the leaflet suggests Greg Marshall will be anything other than lobby-fodder for the party machine should he find his way into parliament.

P.s. In Broxtowe we have three oddball candidates: Dave ‘Buspass Elvis’ Bishop (Militant Elvis Anti HS-2 Party) , Dr Teck Khong (Independent Farage-Sold-Us-Out Brexit Party) and Amy Dalla Nura (English Hateful Troll Party). They probably won’t be doing mass leaflet deliveries but may be seen handing them out. If you can, please grab one for me and pass it on to the Beestonia.
—–
Chris Tregenza doesn’t have a real job so spends his time on twitter as @Tregenza

ELECTION SPECIAL DAY MINUS 27: BROX TWITS / BEESTON QUESTIONS JOHNSON

Like what we do? We’re entirely independent, and strive to give citizen journalists the training, tools and platform to hold truth to power. If you support what we do, we’d really appreciate help in funding: we’re entirely reliant on donations so a few quid is hugely appreciated. To donate, click here.

Huge thanks to all who have already donated: we couldn’t do this without you.

It’s often been a theme of this blog, when it’s dealing with politics or other stuff, to speculate that Beeston is the centre of the known universe. It’s a bit of a thesis I best not explain now less I crowd out Chris Tregenza’s fantastic overview of our candidates Twitter output, (below), but if you see me in the pub I’ll probably freely express it around the 2.7 pint mark; I guarantee you’ll be like most people by the end and so impressed you forever give up talking to strange men in the pub and are so in awe you cross the street when you see me approaching / pretend not to speak English when I say hello.

Brevity being the soul of wit – BBTSOW, for short – the idea is that Beeston is so fascinating as it so easily acts as a a microcosm for the UK. In this instance, politics, and to repeat a phrase I’ve heard with increasingly frequency since 2016, how ‘utterly fucked up’ it is. We have Lib Dems supporting Greens, Greens supporting Labour, (ex) Labour supporting Soubry, Tories supporting Brexit, and so much weirdness I can’t help feeling that rather than a General Election we’re at some seedy seventies suburban wife-swapping party. We even have a candidate who has been on Wife Swap. If, at a hustings, you’re invited to throw your car-keys onto a coffee table, just run.

More bits, including how a Beestonian Nursery owner had the Prime Minister so flustered he forgot how many kids he has, after our look at the candidate Twitter accounts you should be following. Lord Beestonia.

BROX TWITS

Some people think this election will be won on the doorstep but they are idiots. The real battleground is on Twitter. One week in, how are the candidates doing? (Banner images candidate’s own)

Anna Soubry (@Anna_Soubry)

Independent Group for Changing Your Party Name

600x200.jpg

With over 198,000 followers, Anna dwarfs the other candidates but they shouldn’t be worried. Most of her followers are Russian bots posting death threats on everything she posts. (This is only a slight exaggeration). Plus, Anna’s complete lack of design awareness means her header photo is so bad she cuts off part of her own face and her avatar is a nondescript splodge of pixels.

However, her actual tweets are not the normal fatuous MP posts. She uses the account well to promote allies in various parties and to show solidarity with other MPs and candidates being targeted with abuse.

Greg Marshal (@Greg4Broxtowe)

Labour & Please Don’t Ask Me About Our Brexit Policy Party

1500x500 (3).jpg

 

Trailing Soubry by some way with just 3,000 followers, Greg’s account is as dull as you would expect from a Corbyn loyalist. A steady stream of retweets from official Labour interspaced with pictures of Greg campaigning around Broxtowe.

Greg has at least learnt to make header and avatar images which, though unimaginative, are at least recognisable.

Kat Boettge (@KatBoettge)

The Green But Unelectable Party

1500x500 (2)

With a healthy 2051 followers and a well designed header / avatar, Kat should be queen of Broxtowe Twitter but there is a suspicious gap in her tweets. Between the end of the European elections (where she was a candidate) and the last few days, there was not one tweet. It’s almost as if she only uses Twitter as a campaign tool and not the essential part of life we all know it is.

Darren Henry (@VoteDarrenHenry)

Conservative & Not Very Unionist Anymore Party

1500x500 (1).jpgDarren has 1700 followers but most of them are from Wiltshire, Chester and other places he has stood for election and lost. His Twitter feed is so dull and predictable that it makes Greg Marshal look interesting. The only notable tweet is one where he comments he had an enjoyable afternoon in Stapleford – something no one has said before. (Why is Esther McVey lamping him under the chin???- Ed)

Dave (@BusPassElvis)

1500x500

The Militant Elvis Anti HS2 PartyThe only serious candidate in the running, Dave is woefully far behind the other candidates in followers which shows how insane British politics has become. His latest policy announcement – “Free neutering for stray cats and Boris Johnson” – deserves a much wider audience.

Any Others?

Yes, two far-right shitposters who we’ll probably mention at some point, but right now simply do not have the energy, physically or emotionally, to bother with.

Chris Tregenza doesn’t have a real job so spends his time on twitter as @Tregenza

______________________________________

NURSERY CRIMES

You’d think that Boris Johnson’s unfortunate habit of indiscriminate inseminating would lead to a deep familiarity with nurseries.

Alas, of course not. Just as Jacob Rees Mogg professed to never changing any of his own children’s nappies (his aversion to the nanny state not something he likes to take home after a day handling less allegorical piles of shit); Johnson is not exactly a hands on dad. A day after appearing to have no idea what the lyrics of Wheels on the Bus were he rocked up blathering onto a live BBC TV and Radio link-up not knowing owt about nurseries either.

Step forward today’s hero: Roopam from Beeston Nursery.

I’ll declare a conflict of interest: my toddler son goes to the nursery and I’ve long been a fan of the place and the way it’s ran; not least the work Roopam does to make it a fantastic environment for developing tots. She’s a passionate, dedicated advocate of giving kids the best start in life, and is so wholly devoted to ensuring that we do not neglect our young (I mean, they can’t vote, so you can see why they’re taken for granted) it is perhaps no surprise she decided to have a punt and ring in with the utterly outside chance of getting to speak to the PM.

Amazingly, she got through, and the result – well argued, well researched rational pleading vs blathering ill-informed word-salad. It’s here, about 44.5 mins in, and it’s quite something: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000c0t8/your-questions-answered-boris-johnson

Lord Beestonia

 

 

 

ELECTION SPECIAL: INTERVIEW WITH GREEN CANDIDATE KAT BOETTGE / OFFICIAL CANDIDATE LIST ANNOUNCED

We have the first of our candidate interviews today with the Green Party Candidate, Kat Boettge and its a cracker: rare you’ll see a politician so candid (beware! many swears!) and funny; plus she took us behind the scenes of the episode of Wife Swap she starred in which is a real eye opener. It’s our rookie journo Faith Pring’s first piece for us, so smatter of applause her way, please. Or better still, donate towards our crowdfunding for this election special: every penny will go to cover expenses and wages of our new team of citizen journalists: click here: it will take a minute of your time and a few quid out of your account, but do great things for the future of preserving insight and scrutiny into the oft-neglected world of local politics. After the article, we have the full candidate list – the complete runners and riders for the hard slog ahead. Over to Faith…

CANDIDATE INTERVIEWS #1: KAT BOETTGE GREEN PARTY

Kat-Boettge-2

The upcoming general election on December 12th is nothing short of controversy. The Broxtowe elections are looking to be some of the most interesting in the country, with candidates swapping parties, stepping down and stepping up, so we spoke to green party candidate Kat Boettge to grasp her opinions of it all.

Originally from Germany, Kat has been living in the UK for twenty years and decided to join the Green Party as soon as she felt her daughter was old enough to be left alone for a couple of hours a day.

“My mother was a Green Party politician, so I grew up with that. Once my daughter was old enough, I joined [the Green Party], and that was seven years ago. Only half a year later I was selected as the lead candidate for the European elections for the East Midlands,” Kat Boettge said.

After admitting that the Green Party has changed her life for the better and she doesn’t regret a thing, we began talking about the current climate change emergency and whether she agrees with the highly controversial actions of climate activism group Extinction Rebellion.

“I think they’re doing an excellent job. I’ve spoken at demonstrations, but because I’m working full time, I can’t do everything,” she revealed. “I think the momentum has definitely grown in the UK, and I think people are finally realising that a climate emergency is real and that everything is going to be affected by this. I know I would not be able to look my daughter in the face in twenty years and say that I didn’t even try and do something to help.”

When talking to Kat, it’s obvious that if there’s one thing she’s passionate about, it’s helping to solve the world’s climate emergency. But does she share the same amount of passion for the NHS?  A psychotherapist by trade, Kat has seen first-hand what a lack of funding and staffing can do to the health service and how it can affect the people that need it most.“I’m a great fan of the NHS, and I think if we get a bad service, it’s due to a lack of funding.”

“Only 3% of the NHS budget is dedicated to mental health which is appalling, doctors work fifteen hour shifts and if patients don’t hit a certain recovery rate, the therapist is thrown out. It shouldn’t be like this but it’s because of the pressure,” she added.

During the interview, Kat also believes that a large majority of the funding given from the government is directed to the wrong causes. “How funny is it that we have the money for HS2, for Trident, but not enough for the NHS? It’s not just sad, it’s fucking crap.”

Electoral reform, social justice and, of course, climate change, are just some of the Green Party’s policies, but why does that mean you should vote for Kat in the upcoming elections? “In the UK, it’s one side and the other, it’s based on a two party system and it’s time to stop that. A climate emergency is absolutely urgent; we’ve been on the right side of history for 40 years saying this.”

“our voters would be quite pissed off if we’d stood down. It’s not a personal thing, it’s just simply that” -Kat on standing against Soubry

“You should vote for something else other than the two parties to show that we need electoral reform, and that’s what we stand for.”

Despite all her views, many people have been questioning lately why Kat Boettge is still standing in the Broxtowe elections, despite the recent Remain alliance. This alliance has seen the Liberal Democrats stand down in Broxtowe, to theoretically enable a single Remain candidate to stand. However, both Anna Soubry and Kat Boettge are active Remainers, and Kat Boettge has refused to step down. Why?

“Locally, we weren’t made aware of any alliance, nobody asked us. Anna Soubry didn’t ask us, the Lib Dems didn’t ask us, our national party didn’t ask us to stand down.”

“If they had asked me to stand down, I would have said no because Anna Soubry, in regards to environmental politics, is so far away from where we stand, our voters would be quite pissed off if we’d stood down. It’s not a personal thing, it’s just simply that,” Kat explained.

“If you look at the last European election, which is the most relevant, in Broxtowe it was the Brexit party first, Lib Dem second, and I was third. Now, because the Lib Dems are not standing, I am the strongest remain candidate in Broxtowe and I am not going to stand down.”

Finally, something we can’t avoid: a couple of years ago Kat appeared on Channel 4’s

3000

Kat among the pig-ignorants: Wife Swap

Wife Swap in a slightly odd Brexit special. What was that like?

“You only see snapshots of it. On the first evening I was at this social club, and I was literally surrounded by twenty or thirty drunk men shouting at me. They didn’t even know you could vote for an MEP, this was the level of discussion we were having. And I was standing my ground, and as I said the director said he couldn’t watch the footage fully because he thought it was so abusive and upsetting, and I was trying to be as diplomatic and withstanding as I could be, but it was constantly abuse towards foreigners, and they’re threatening, and this guy took me to wherever it was in London, where there were a lot of Bangladeshis, and they threw a lot of comments that were not shown. I was saying ‘there’s nothing wrong with Muslims, but what has this to do with the EU?’. The level of discussion was on such a low and uneducated level, I didn’t want to say anymore. What wasn’t shown was that I persuaded three of the men there to become Remainers, and they got it, but they didn’t show it because they didn’t want to be biased”.

Phew. Whatever your politics, Kat is a welcome splash of colour –albeit it shades of green- into what could otherwise be a pretty grey election season. Faith Pring

_________________________________

CANDIDATE LIST ANNOUNCED

EJWiuVMXsAIO8cn

Here it is folks! The list of candidates that made the cut: we’ve explained the absence of the Lib Dems and the Brexit Party, so there are no great surprises but the immediate take-away is thus:

  • Labour, Conservative, Green, Soubry all there as expected.
  • Dave Bishop, aka Militant Elvis, got his ten signatures, so can stand!
  • A disillusioned, possibly out-of-pocket former Brexit Party who really should delete his Twitter feed is standing as an Independent.
  • A hateful dangerous candidate is standing in the form of Amy Beth Della Mura. Lets take a little look at this rather awful human.

She’s a full on, unapologetic fascist for starters, and standing int he Midlands could be for two reasons: one, she was banned a few years ago from going anywhere near the UK coastline – an ASBO put on her through frequent bogus suicide attempts that cost rescue services over a million quid.

Two: she’s going after Anna Soubry. While this blog has never been our incumbent MP’s biggest fan, we are shocked at the level of hate and abuse she receives – the full gamut of rape threats, death threats, etc. No one deserves anything like that, and the fact a professional troll is standing raises some grave questions: she has verbally abused Soubry while the MP was live on air, calling her a ‘traitor’ and the usual vile stuff that seems fine to spout these days due to the whipping up work of Farage, Johnson et al.

She is a dangerous, possibly deeply unwell person, and it is important that the police and public keep a very close eye on this potentially dangerous candidate.

_________

We’ll be taking a closer look at a few surprises that have come our way in tomorrow’s blog: stay tuned! Lord Beestonia

BEESTONIA ELECTION19 SPECIAL, DAY MINUS 31: BREXIT BOTTLERS; NOTTS CONSTITUENCY ROUND UP.

by Chris Tregenza / Lord Beestonia

soubdaubrob

The weekend saw candidates descend on Beeston, with the Brexit Party taking a pitch outside Hallams, Anna Soubry’s Change for A Cup of Tea Party (subs, please check) outside Sue Ryder and the Liberal Democrat Party – well, just getting a bit of fresh air really, since they’re barred from standing.

It was the Brexit Party’s first proper unleashing of their new candidate, Calvin Robinson, who turned up with MEP and PPC for Ashfield Martin Daubney, who less lucky readers will know as the Men’s Rights Activist idiot who edited Loaded Magazine (and effectively killed it off by getting it’s circulation down to 10% of what it was when he took over).

It must have been some consolation eventually finding his constituency after earlier

Annotation 2019-11-11 215514

recording a video message talking of his wonderful first day of campaigning where he talked how “We’ve been out in Mansfield Town (not in the constituency); we’ve visited the DH Lawrence Birthplace Museum” (in Eastwood, not in the constituency).

Yet it was all for nowt. Nigel Farage, that believer against the odds in the impossible; that patriotic stalwart of standing your ground; that not at-all chicken opportunist spiv bottled it. Pulling out all the candidates to seats won by the party whose Brexit stance is still described on their website as “The Prime Minister’s deal is not a proper Brexit…reheats 95 per cent of Theresa May’s deal…..Can any Brexiteer inclined to support this Treaty honestly say that it amounts to a proper Brexit?” Well, Nigel can, and now Calvin can, and funny how someone as steadfast in his opinion as Nige is can disintegrate so thoroughly when the Daily Mail throws a bit of criticism at him.

So Nige and Calvin out the race, the Lib Dems in enforced hiatus and Lord Biro at last getting his signatures to enable him to run, we are beginning to see the candidate slate take shape before the 14th November deadline.

We will be with you all the way, with the side of the campaign you won’t find anywhere else. We’d love it if you chipped in a few bob to help us do so – we’re all independent journalists and not in the pay of a political party/ lobbyist / media mogul. A few quid will do wonders, and keep local journalism keeping you in the know: click here to keep us running.

Now, over to Chris Tregenza for a look at what’s happening with the neighbours. Lord Beestonia

______________

NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH

While Broxtowe is clearly the most interesting constituency in this election, we should spare a thought for our neighbours.

This Will Make The News

250px-Nottingham_UK_locator_map.svg

Uncle Kenny Land, aka Rushcliffe

A seat bound to receive national attention is Ken Clarke’s old seat of Rushcliffe. Uncle Ken won this seat for the Tories with 50% of the votes two years ago yet the results in this seat will define the election. Despite coming 3rd with just 4% of the vote last time, Rushcliffe is in the Lib Dem’s top ten target seats.

Rushcliffe is predominantly wealthy and suburban, and the only area of Nottinghamshire to vote remain in 2016. Just the sort of voters who will be attracted by the Lib-Dem’s small ‘c’ conservative-but-remain sales pitch. Throw in the way Boris Johnson treated the much respected (and arch-Europhile) Ken Clarke and there are a lot of disillusioned Tory voters. Labour came 2nd in 2017 (25%) but there is no way Conservatives are going to vote for Corbyn.

The local Labour party realise the threat the Lib Dems present and despite previous being pro-Corbynite leavers, they are now campaigning as remainers. This won’t win them any new votes but may stop the hemorrhage to the Lib Dems.

And there is the crux of the issue. If the Lib Dems can convince remain-Labour and remain-Tories to vote for them nationally, Boris Johnson will fail to get a majority and the Lib Dems will have 50 seats. However, their tactics may just split the vote and let Johnson back into Number 10 with a clear majority. Rushcliffe is the bellwether for the nation.

Rising Star

The three safe Labour seats around Nottingham will be pretty dull – Nottingham East,

120px-NottinghamSouth2007Constituency.svg

Nottingham East

Nottingham South and Nottingham North. However Nottingham East candidate Nadia Wittome is a stand-out Labour candidate. Standing in Chris Leslie’s seat (who is also contesting it), Nadia is young, female, non-white and most importantly smart. She is also a strident left winger who believes passionately in free movement and the EU. So basically a poster child for the progressive left. With Chris Leslie unlikely to pick-up more than a few thousand votes, Nadia should be shoe-in and one to watch in the new Parliament.

Gedling – Held by Vernon Coaker since 1997, Gedling has a near 5000 majority. Expect to see that cut but if Labour loses Gedling then Corbyn is in a whole heap of trouble. In Newark, Conservative Robert Jenrick with his 17,000 majority in a strong leave area will not be wearing himself out campaigning this year. So you can forget all about Newark, just like us city folk normally do.

Bandit Country

Things get interesting in the north of the county with three unpredictable battles in an area which voted 70% leave.

120px-Mansfield2007Constituency.svg

Mansfield

Mansfield unexpectedly fell to the Conservatives in 2017 after being Labour for 80 years. It was one of Theresa May’s few success stories and represents the type of seat the Conservatives hope to win from Labour. Evidence from online advertising suggests Boris is aiming to secure the rural Labour leave vote to replace all the seats he will lose in urban remain areas. However, sitting MP Ben Bradly is not the brightest spark and his victory last time had more to do with local politics than brilliant campaigning. This election is a simple two horse race and expect a photo-finish.

Bassetlaw was comfortably Labour with no meaningful Lib Dem vote but outgoing MP

320px-Bassetlaw2007Constituency.svg

Bassetlaw

John Mann sold his soul to the Tories for a peerage. Coupled with one of the highest leave votes in the country and there is a good chance it will go Conservative. Something made much more likely because Bassetlaw Labour’s candidate was barred by Labour HQ and bitter in-fighting has broken out. A lot depends on how many of the area’s farmers have realised Brexit will be a disaster for them.

120px-Ashfield2007Constituency.svg

Ashfield

Ashfield’s out-going MP, Gloria De Piero, started political life as a Blairite remainer but pivoted to Corbyn’s hard-left leaver stance. I’m sure with her 441 vote majority, Gloria was absolutely confident of winning and the decision to step-down had nothing to do with the complete collapse of the Labour vote in the EU and local elections. In the latter, the Ashfield Independent Party (created by someone kicked out of the Lib Dems) took 30 of the 35 seats on offer. Now the council leader Jason Zadrozny is standing as MP and is suddenly a very vocal Brexit supporter so he is a real force to be reckoned with. The Brexit Party is also targeting this seat and it’s certainly on the Tories long-list so the Ashfield race is totally open.

Most Importantly

In our beloved Broxtowe we have a 2.5 horse race. Labour versus Conservatives with an

120px-Broxtowe2007Constituency.svg.png

Anna Soubry wildcard. Labour are favourites but a lot depends on the manifesto. The more remain-oriented it is, such a commitment to free-movement, the more likely remain voters will go to Labour as the least worst option. However if Corbyn keeps on about respecting the referendum, there will be an exodus to Soubry. With the Brexit Party Ltd., candidate standing down it’s totally impossible to predict. Best keep reading this blog then… Chris Tregenza.

Politics By Design #1: Independent Group For Change.

by Chris Tregenza 

Over the course of the election campaign,our letterboxes are going to be choked with campaign materials on glossy paper that either go straight to the bottom of the cat litter tray or recycling bin. However, Chris Tregenza loves his campaign material, and wants you to as well. Thus, over the next few weeks Chris will be reviewing every leaflet that he gets sent – not for policy, necessarily, more for the aesthetic awfulness and other important considerations.

If you get a particularly interesting piece of campaign material from a Broxtowe candidate, send it over to mattgoold23@hotmail.com, and we’ll serve it up to Chris.

We start off with the earliest leaflet to go out, from Anna Soubry’s Independent Group for Change.

ccf08112019_1.jpg

Overall

Oh  jeez. This is why you should pay for professional design and not rely on an intern who knows how to use Photoshop.

Colour Use

Not too bad when you consider all the political parties have nicked the good colours. The orange / pink / blue combination is a nice palette which works well on a dark background but is too weak when used on white.

Typography

Anna must have amazing eyesight because the 9pt body text is minuscule to my tired old eyes. No one is going to read anything this small.

 Images

She must be one of the most photographed back-benchers so why the hell are the photos so crap? The photos are tiny, it’s almost impossible to see Anna in them.

CCF08112019_2

 Truthiness

No obvious pork pies, just the usual half-truths we expect from our politicians.

 Message

God knows what Anna thinks the point of leaflet is. Rather than pitching herself as the “Remain” candidate or making the most of her outspoken, stand-up-to-power persona, it tries to do everything and predictably ends up doing nothing.

 Summary

I doubt this will be the worst leaflet of the campaign but it sets the bar pretty low.

Chris Tregenza doesn’t have a real job so spends his time on twitter as @Tregenza 

____________________________________________________________________________________________

WANT TO MAKE SURE LOCAL JOURNALISM IS KEPT ALIVE? THEN HELP US OUT WITH A FEW QUID! ALL DONATIONS GO DIRECT TO THE VOLUNTEER JOURNALISTS TO COVER EXPENSES AND INEVITABLE COUNSELLING AFTER THE ELECTION. YOU CAN DONATE HERE. TA!

Candidates stand-up – and are stood down / Elvis has entered the building.

By Matt Turpin

* LIB DEMS LIVID AFTER BEING FORCED TO STAND DOWN

* BACKING SOUBRY? ‘NO WAY’ SAYS ACTIVIST

* CANDIDATES BEGIN TO APPEAR: INCLUDING A CERTAIN LORD B…

And we’re off.

The election has been called, and parliament (lawfully) prorogued. On the 12th of December we will go out and vote for our preferred candidate (or draw a vivid and anatomically unlikely obscenity across the ballot paper – hey, this is a democracy, do what you will). On the 13th, after staying up all night and getting overexcited when a returning officer starts progressing towards a stage in a featureless room in a municipal hall in a featureless town you’d not heard of ten minutes ago, we will know who is – or more likely, who could be – forming the next government. On the 14th we’ll stop being drunk and think ‘Ah well. At least we have a bit of time off work to look forward to’ before heading back to the pub and waiting for Christmas or the Apocalypse, whichever seems most likely to happen first.

Prognostications are not going to feature on this blog over the next 35 days. I once fancied myself as an East Midlands psephologist soothsayer – a Nottstradamus, if I may be so bold- but after multiple failures in reading the chicken entrails I’ve made the wise decision to roll away the crystal ball and just go ‘meh’ when asked what I think will happen. Meh.

One thing I can predict with utter certainty is that

THE LIB DEMS WON’T BE WINNING BROXTOWE

“Ouch” I hear you cry “such partisan observations creeping in already?” No, this isn’t a dissing of the guys and gals in yellow, more that they have been told from up-high that they can’t stand a candidate.

“We are disappointed with this decision as we would have done very well. This is a hugely important election for the future direction of the UK”. Lib Dem councillor Steve Carr (Broxtowe Borough / Notts County Council) tells me “There are just too many pro Remain parties standing in Broxtowe and we don’t want the Tories or the Brexit Party to win.”

0_480

Can’t stand me now -Tim Hallam

It’s probably especially galling for 2017 candidate Tim Hallam: he’s been their official candidate since September, and de facto candidate for far longer though being an unchallenged incumbent.

An activist I spoke to this afternoon told me “I’m now expected to support and campaign for Anna Soubry. No. I won’t be doing that, and no one I know will. We’ll devote energy towards Jason (Billen, Lib Dem candidate for Rushcliffe) and that alone: I’ve no faith in Soubry and a vote for her is a waste. A Lib Dem could have pushed through the middle, but now we don’t get a chance”.

_______________________________________

We won’t officially know the full slate of candidates until after applications close on November 14th, so expect surprises: such a high-profile bell-weather marginal with such a controversial incumbent is going to draw a lot of national media attention over the next five weeks.

We do have several certainties though

Labour: Greg Marshall.

greg

Nearly grabbed glory in 2017, and probably would be our MP now if it wasn’t for the unexpected nature of the last election that left him on the back foot.

Conservatives: Darren Henry

D-qhK8hX4AAHv2M

After writing a piece about him a few weeks ago, he invited me out for a drink to meet him, which I thought was a quite noble gesture, especially as I assumed that the local Tories had deemed me persona non gratis. He proved to be perfectly affable company if political ideology wasn’t touched on, and I welcome his entry into the race over the cynical and tired expected candidate Cllr Richard Jackson.

Green: Kat Boettege

Kat-Boettge-2

Buoyed by a new wave of consciousness on green issues, Kat standing is no surprise but at the chagrin of the Lib Dems, who assumed that standing down to a Remain candidate (see above) would mean an extension of the pact in more complex constituencies. Our second candidate with televison credits: as well as regular appearances on Notts TV she featured on a recent episode of Channel 4’s Wife Swap.

Independent Group for Change (subs, please check): Anna Soubry

soubrybars

In a normal world, the fact that our parliamentary representative for Broxtowe would be concluding what is highly likely to be her final campaign on my birthday would be a significant occasion to me, and perhaps a cue to start googling the most attractive champagne cork/ exploding firework GIFS. But no, these are no normal days and few politicians exemplify the strange days we’re in than Soubry: once a Tory loyalist and trenchant critic of anything outside that particular politic bandwidth, she’s now re-positioned as the liberal face of Remain without actually joining the Liberals. Now given a clear path by the Lib Dems, which might ironically see her once-nemesis Greg Marshall take power. Going to bring a LOT of interest from the national media to this seat.

Brexit Party: Calvin Robinson

EduSecs.jpg

Well, they did have a candidate in the shape of Duncan McCann, but he subsequently stood down citing ‘death threats’. In his place steps Calvin Robinson, a relative unknown who nonetheless will be trying to get his profile raised, if not actually standing a strong chance of winning.

Interesting fact: ‘ Broxtowe’ shares more letters with the word ‘Brexit’ than any other constituency in the UK.

and an exclusive for you….

Militant Elvis Scrap HS2 Party (I think): The Lord Biro, AKA Dave Bishop, AKA BusPass Elvis

IMG_20191106_112912

Poet, pub raconteur and local marvel Dave has been contesting seats across the UK for over 20 years, and despite being the ultimate fringe candidate is a hugely welcome dose of satirical levity in an often grey field. Also, he’s had success, beating a Lib Dem candidate in a local council election in Clifton (though trailing far behind the Labour candidate), a feat he’s certain to repeat by default this time around

Dave rang me earlier this week ‘Look. I don’t expect you to campaign for me, or even vote for me. But if you’d sign my election papers I’d be really grateful’. How could I refuse? We met in a pub – appropriately as Dave loves a tipple – I signed and he spent the rest of the day collecting more signatures. He rang me this evening “I’ve got seven now (he needs ten) so it’s going well. Best of all, a load of blokes saw my rosette and gathered around me to sing ‘Hound Dog’. It was beautiful, and the best start to a campaign”.

It’s possible we have our break-out star.

So that’s the current crop: we’ll keep you updated all the way. We are planning to cover the campaign from a local perspective, and cut through the predictable party flannel and give an honest, independent take on things – while ensuring our small team of fresh reporters get trained and paid. Read more here, and if you’re feeling like you’d like to help out, then drop us a few quid here – every penny will be accounted for and used solely to keep you informed.

BEESTONIA: ELECTION 19 SPECIAL LAUNCHES!

Nine and a half years ago, I decided to take my local blog charting the whimsical weirdness of the town I lived in and point it at politics. It seemed like it would be a fun thing to do for a short while, especially as the candidates included a former Central News presenter who was known by very few outside the East Midlands, and had hardly been on telly for two decades, but was well known to me as a avid TV watcher in the eighties and casual Prisoner Cell Block H fan. It should make for a few amusing posts, I imagined. Things got very weird, and to cut a story very short I found I was writing a blog more or less solely devoted to local politics, often driven by the sheer horror of what was out there when probed.

I’ve tried to retire many times, and felt that the successful action against Broxtowe Borough Council over the Summer was a valedictory moment, and time to step away. The Beestonian, which span out of this blog before assuming a life of its own and going on to greater things, was more fun to run. My day job at Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature was -is -ridiculously good fun as well as doing something that I believe incredibly deeply in: showing that the greatest step on the ladder in so many ways is to foster a love of reading.  I get asked to do a lot of community-based things, including taking a school governor role, sitting on the local Civic Society committee, and advising local individuals, campaigns and businesses how to promote themselves effectively. I was asked to -and accepted – a part-time position lecturing in journalism at Nottingham College. I have a lot on. This blog had been fun, but maybe it was time to walk away.

Then there is the most important thing in my life: my toddler son. He turns three this weekend – feel free to wish him another year of fun and silliness – and everything else is secondary to him. I was an unlikely political journalist; now I was an unlikely devoted father.

I simply can’t do it again – I can’t commit to the huge amounts of time, energy and terror of legal threats that a proper blog on the election commands. I’m in an incredibly fortunate position to not have to further burnish my credentials, to get my name out there, to demand attention from readers.

Yet there is a real problem with local political journalism right now: there’s simply not a great deal of it. I won’t get into the historical and complex reasons behind this – us hyper-local, utterly independent digital-first journalists are probably part of the problem. But while the 2010 election had many dedicated eyes upon Broxtowe, the 2015 and 2017 campaigns saw these becoming fewer. There are some fine local journos out there: Kit Sandeman, Hugh Casswell and Tony Roe are all brilliant professionals. Yet with so many battles to be fought, so many patches to cover, much goes by unreported.

To square this circle, I’ve decided to run an election blog, but not write it. I’ve put a call out for budding citizen journos to come forward and take over the blog: using my resources, contacts and platform to report on the campaign to win Broxtowe. In the same way I have an open editorial for The Beestonian, I want to give other journos the skills, experience and – this bit requires you, keep reading – funds to become proper trained local journalists. The more people have the skills to be able to speak truth to power, the better. If that can be the legacy of this blog, then great.

I’ve so far commissioned two very promising younger journalists with little experience, and they’ll be reporting for here very soon. Our editorial line is

  • Independence: none of us are members of a political party, and while I will take posts from those who are, it will be clearly stated next to their byline. Readers of this blog know I have a leftish streak, but find me an editor who doesn’t hold some sort of position and I’ll show you a viable Brexit deal. Independence will be the core of this blog.
  • Irreverence: I’ve done plenty of serious, straight-faced journalism in my time and its an important thing to have, but in the next six weeks it won’t be the theme. We won’t be doing po-faced polemics. We won’t be doing detailed examinations of policy. We will be doing critiques of the typeface of campaign material. We will be doing interviews with each politician that will ban party-line cliches. We will be doing anything that actually cuts away the huge amounts of crap that comes with each election and talk to YOU as an intelligent, curious reader rather than a reactive drone.
  • Broxtowe-centric: Boris Johnson is not standing in this constituency. Jeremy Corbyn is not standing in this constituency. Jo Swinson is…you get the picture. There will be mountains of stuff on those three, and other national figures, absolutely everywhere for the next few weeks. It’s unlikely we’ll find a fresh take on this, so we won’t bother. Our focus is SOLELY on Broxtowe, and informed by the fact we live in a representative parliamentary democracy, not a presidency. The diminishing nature of local media often gives us the feeling that the reverse is true; with ‘the provinces’ seen as the place to vox-pop on a weekday afternoon in a mildly condescending manner; I hope we can provide some form of corrective to this, providing something unique, dedicated and grounded right here.
  • Funded: and this is where you play a part.

This blog doesn’t cost a penny. It doesn’t carry advertising – aside from the stuff WordPress sticks on which a decent ad-blocker will hide and I never see from my end. I’m not in hock to some shady background figure pouring tons of funding in to serve as a propaganda tool (though if any shady background figures do want to pour money in then I best warn you I have called just about every election incorrectly and you’re best off sticking the cash on the lottery).

It will have costs to run: while I will be running the editing in my free time, the work carried out by my small team of journos will need some recompense: first, to cover expenses travelling and buying immense quantities of coffee; second, so in receiving a wage they can properly describe themselves as ‘professional journalists’. Journalism now is dominated by those who can afford to do it, as unpaid internships and volunteering are both a necessity for all and an impracticality for many: this explains why the majority of top level UK journalists in 2016 were privately educated against a national average of just 7% .

This has most likely seen a widening gulf in the last three years. While those non-state school journos are no doubt great at their craft, they are not representative and important voices are not being heard; the true diversity of the UK is not being heard. In some small way, we want to be part of changing that.

So out comes the begging bowl. I will pay for all expenses towards commissioned contributors here, and do so out of my own pocket. If you can help towards that, and then cover a fee for them, all the better.

I commit to not taking a fee, and ensuring all expenses are paid covered even if we only bring in a couple of bottle tops and a token from Beeston Beach. I will, the week after the election is over (and presumably when I can once again shutter this blog) publish a full breakdown on how it is funded: I will be utterly transparent.

So if you can dig into your pockets; if you can make this a two-way street we’ll make every penny donated worth your while: and perhaps play a part in changing how local journalism works:

You can Paypal here: https://www.paypal.me/BEESTONIA . 

And to whet your appetite, an hour after this blog is posted the first two exclusive scoops of the BroxElects19 will be hitting the newstands. Or dropping into your inboxes – click the button in the top-right margin of this site to sign up and get an alert each time we post.

Welcome aboard. We’re in for one hell of a ride.