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.”
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.