Journalism Under Lockdown

We are in unprecedented times, where the word ‘unprecedented’ is being used an unprecedented amount of times in both speech and print. Never before in history have those without any previous epidemiological experience styled themselves as epidemiologists. Never has there been such an exponential rise in those looking at exponential graphs.

It’s thrown everything into flux, bizarre flux, as it mostly involves staying at home and doing little whatsoever, a banality crashing into the apocalyptic and sitting down to watch Netflix together. From a purely local perspective, the response has been brilliant, with locals mobilising (while sitting inside, of course) to ensure the most vulnerable are looked after, and that we look after each other.

A less welcome return has been some rather pernicious attitudes to how the media should act in covering this pandemic. It’s generally agreed that their are wartime parallels at work, with the rationing of, errrr, toilet roll; the restrictions on movement and a general sense that we are all should act collectively to beat this invader.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man. But we’ll not discuss the Labour leadership contest now (which is actually mentioned in the last few lines of the Book of Revelation, after those chaps on horses), but rather the man trapped in Downing Street while he cosplays the role he’s always dreamed of. Our own Poundshop Winnie, Boris Johnson.

While he may come off his webcam occasionally to take private selfies of himself donning a hat while chuffing on a fat cigar, the facts point to Boris actually being more of a Chamberlain, initially offering appeasement to the Coronavirus in the form of letting it run riot through the population with the misplaced concept of herd immunity. It was only when the simple maths of such a strategy were pointed out to him (that for everyone to get the virus would mean hundreds of thousands of deaths, even if the fatality rate is below 1%). Some Churchill. I don’t recall the speech that our Wartime Leader made that said “We shall fight them on the beaches, we shall fight them on…actually, you can take a chunk of the elderly. And those with underlying conditions. And the asthmatics. And…”

Yet here we are. What’s more HOLD ON STOP THIS BLOG IMMEDIATELY.





…and so on. There is a feeling amongst many that this is not the time for journalism, this is not the time for critical observation and reflection. To pull together, we should accept our betters and follow orders absolutely. Anything less is the way of the traitor.

Yet now is when strong, critical journalism is more essential than ever. It is literally a matter of life and death.

Boris Johnson’s baffling initial reaction to the virus – having a protracted holiday, refusing to hold a COBRA meeting before the weekend was out, boasting that it was nothing to worry about and he had, like some tight-collared, crinkle-shirted Princess Di, shook hands with those suffering from Corvid-19. This has been well-documented, not least in this fantastic overview despatched from the PM’s birthplace. His attitude and refusal to act undoubtedly cost lives. Such is the responsibility of a leader: get things wrong, people suffer. The media need to be free to say this. Again, it literally is a matter of life and death.

Screenshot 2020-03-31 at 10.49.20

It is also well documented that when draconian restrictions are put in place, leaders get quite the taste for them and look into maintaining  such powers long after the crisis has ebbed. Over in Hungary, the far-right anti-semitic PM Victor Orban has granted himself terrifying new powers to govern and kill off dissent. Over in Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu has postponed standing trial on several corruption trial, handily at a time when he was in a precarious position after failing to form a government. Over in the US, Trump has on one (tiny) hand stated that the pandemic is a hoax, on the other attempting to buy up a company working on a vaccine for the exclusive use of Americans.

We need to be vigilant, we need to be critical. We need to congratulate when required, and I very much congratulate Chancellor Rishi Sunak on his recent discovery of the legendary Magic Moneytree, and the adjacent understanding that the ‘household budget’ analogy used to describe the nation’s finances deceptive, destructive  bunkum.

“The first casualty of war is the truth”, said Aeschylus, the ancient Greek founder of dramatic tragedy. To question, to demand honesty, is not blind belligerence. It is not working against the national cause, or the national interest. It is, however, an essential component of democracy and, for better or worse, the buffer between dictatorship, the brakes on tyranny. To say this is no time for journalism fundamentally misunderstands journalism’s role. Screenshot 2020-03-31 at 10.51.55

“Memory is the mother of all wisdom” was another zinger from our aforementioned Greek friend. It is essential that when this is over, the narrative is honest, the narrative is clear. There has been many, and there will be many more unnecessary deaths due to the exceptionalism, ego and sheer laziness of Boris Johnson. His letter should arrive today. There is a toilet paper crisis. Perhaps my earlier criticism of its utility was misplaced.


Many things happening in my life right now to adjust to the new normal, with The Beestonian looking at finding a new way of keeping going while our distributors are closed. Please have a read online if you can’t get a copy: in a uncharacteristic act of foresight we went with the theme of ‘Community’ and the cover is almost clairvoyant in its germane nature. We set themes and cover art a couple of months before publication, so had no idea: these were the days when Boris Johnson’s energies were more focused on seeing if he could get Big Ben to bong on Brexit day…..

Carl Husted, Crony and Bigot.

I want to reassure you that I will be a prime minister for everyone, not just those who voted for me.

So said Boris Johnson shortly after his December win. With the country cleaved by the referendum, and a full-on culture war underway, it seemed an unlikely proposition, but one that should at least be given a chance.

That message doesn’t seem to have reached Broxtowe, however, and the office of new MP Darren Henry. While Henry himself comes across as an equitable chap – I had a drink with him shortly before the election and it was only when we came to political issues we found any friction between ourselves – it seems those he surrounds himself with are not on board with the whole One Nation thing.

First, let’s go back a decade, and the election of Henry’s predecessor Anna Soubry.

Before the election she made several promises she subsequently broke on taking office, notably on the subject of employing party members to her office. Nope, she’d take on a local.

Didn’t happen. She appointed a character named Craig Cox, who wasn’t just an activist but one involved in the abusive bullying Conservative Future group that was disbanded after a fellow University of Nottingham student committed suicide after intense bullying.

Cox had form: he’d been investigated by the police for racism after attending a student meeting with a placard demanding ‘Bring Back Slavery’. For the LOLs, of course.

The Guardian picked up on my reporting and soon Cox was out, and a subsequent attempt to take over Conservative Future failed due to his poor reputation.

Soubry’s promises of ‘being the MP for all constituents’ rang hollow when she gave an interview saying she got into politics ‘to fight lefties’. Not to make the world a better place, correct injustices, etc. To fight lefties. Unsurprisingly, when she appealed to the left to vote for her in the collosal mis-gamble vanity project that was Change Independent UK (subs please check) they weren’t fooled.

So will Henry be a breath of fresh air, and reach out to all constituents?

Not if one of his first acts is to count for anything.

During the election, an individual named Carl Husted was bought onto the campaign, with one email stating he was ‘campaign manager’, a status strongly denied by Henry.

He has quite a history: arrested over possession of cocaine; calling his native Wolverhampton (where he probably first met Henry) ‘full of scum’, and when attempting to be a Tory councillor on Nottingham City Council compared Remain voters petitioning for a second referendum as ‘Nazis’. Nice guy. That saw him suspended from the Conservatives, though, as the excellent @matesJacob Twitter feed shows, that amounts to little- the worst bigots are generally quietly readmitted a few weeks later.

Henry told me at the time ” (Husted) is not my Campaign Manager but someone who has volunteered to distribute leaflets and his short suspension is over now anyway”.

A few weeks after the election, and who should appear on a tweet?


That’s Husted (third left) and after a little bit of digging I hear he’s to be the office manager for Henry. Not a local, not a truly fair figure who would help every constituent equally, but a divisive and nasty crony of Henry’s, paid for by the taxpayer.

I asked Henry for a statement in response to my inquiries into Husted, who has even managed to alienate swathes of his own local party: “Carl was a volunteer during my campaign. He is a member of the Conservative Party. I am also hoping to have him onboard as my office manager in the Constituency”.

This isn’t exactly trying to ‘heal the division’. This has the hallmarks of another parachuted MP taking office and putting career before constituents, and effectively decided some constituents are more important than others. Husted’s choice of language on Muslims- comparing Labour voters to ‘Jihadis’ – is going to make it difficult for those of that religion to approach his office for help.

It’s a depressing start. If Henry wants to convince a sceptical Broxtowe that he truly wants to heal division, it’s time to ditch Husted.


It might seem this blog was cut off before the election in a rather blunt fashion, and then may look like we were just being mardy. Apologies for that- the truth was more complex and involved illness that made the actual night of the election a fever-dream within a fever-dream. It was probably the codeine, but I swear I saw footage of Michael Gove being re-elected while swallowing whole a guinea-pig. Who knows anymore?

Illness aside, I was also reluctant to offer up a post-mortem, unlike every other voice on the internet. I had sleep to catch up on, fluids to drink and Christmas to enjoy. Blogging could take a back seat.

Returning to this site, some positives: I was very proud to be able to take on Faith Pring and Chris Tregenza as guest election correspondents: both excelled, turning in copy that zinged and popped. It was a joy to act as their editor, and a greater joy to be able to raise funds to pay them both – not a huge amount, but through your generosity, enough for them to accurately describe themselves as professional journalists. They both deserve more paid work and more bylines: I’ve offered them both opportunities on The Beestonian and look forward to continue working with them. Thanks to all who donated and made this possible.

Yesterday, I gave a presentation to the journalism students I teach, themed ‘Speaking Truth to Power’. It was a compressed history and overview of investigative journalism, taking in the inevitable Woodward and Bernstein through to the more modern heroes such as Nick Davies, Paul Foot, Carole Cadwalladr, Amelia Gentleman, Daphne Caruana Galizia et al; then modern citizen investigative reporting, from Bellingcat to the phenomenal forensic crowd-sourcing work behind An Anatomy of a Killing;. 

Researching the lesson, and watching the reaction of the students when I delivered it, made me realise that there is little more important than strong journalism in these post-truth days. A journalist is obliged to be a scientist, a detective, a person of infinite patience and resource. We need more of them.

I was planning to quit this blog for good once the election was done, after tentatively stepping away several times in the past. Then I read something that struck such a chord with me I can’t get it out my head and it serves as a constant prick to my conscience. This is Nick Davies, a hero of mine:

“For various reasons, I got hit by a lot of adults when I was a child. I deeply hate people who abuse power because of that. I want to get my own back on people who abuse power and by good chance that’s what a good journalist should do”. (Broken News, Alan Rusbridger)

The resonance of it! As a child, I was hit by adults frequently. My parents were bullies who delighted in slapping, belting, using anything blunt as a punishment tool, or co-opting my older brother to do it for them. I suffered acute atopic eczema throughout, which made the skin incredibly sore and sensitive: a belt across the back would hurt that little bit more as it burst wounds and welted broken skin. This would be arbitrary, sadistic and bizarrely banal and surburban – I remember my mum fretting over a possible hairline fissure in the hoover attachment she’d struck across my thighs. That mother, who I am very gratefully estranged from and will never be allowed to come anywhere near my own child, is almost inevitably currently a Conservative Councillor.

My condition led to the predictable bullies at school for years before I developed strategies to quell it, before they developed I’d regularly get a shoeing on account of being shit at football or having perpetually flaky skin. Sometime around the age of 11, I tried to do myself in by taking a load of pills -heavens knows what they were, I do remember a handful of paracetamol –  but there were always lots in our house. I remember being it anything but dramatic, just a pragmatic decision.

If it wasn’t for the fact I vomited and collapsed in the bathroom, and the subsequent discovery of empty tablet blisters, I would have been successful. As it was, there was a drive to A+E at the QMC, pints of orange-flavoured emetics forced down my neck, hours of throwing up until my mouth was burning and lips swollen through the gastric fluids forced out, and home, where my loving dad gave me a kicking before sending me to bed. There would be more attempts, more failures, more kickings. If it hadn’t been for a loving, empathetic and wonderful grandmother I could run to I would not be here.

I’ll never do the work Nick Davies did: few will. The guy is a genius and has uncovered child sex rings right here in Nottingham; coined the phrase ‘Churnalism’, and famously, exposed the phone hacking scandal. I’ve pissed off a few Councillors and had a few people swiftly ‘removed from positions’.  Yet his reflective motive and sheer honesty was common ground and served more to make me understand why the fuck I do this to myself. I have a wonderful job working with writers; I run a fantastic magazine; I teach with incredible people; I go on telly to talk about nature, books, and all between. Investigative journalism is horribly stressful, often utterly depressing, often seemingly pointless.

But like Davies, I have to do it. I cannot sit by and watch others abuse others as I was abused, it really is as straightforward as that. I now have much beauty in my life: a wife and child I could not adore more, work I love, reasonably good health and freedom from the aforementioned eczema that blighted so many decades of my life. Perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not, it cleared up when I cut my parents from my life, and has never returned.

I will always, always be condemned / compelled to address wrongs. This isn’t some attempt to paint myself as some sort of moral superiority, some white knight; rather to explain it’s a reaction to damage done, a character flaw that drives me on. I’m n ot sure if it is a curse or a blessing, and I hope one day I’ll be able to do what Nick Davies eventually did – feel sated, quit and

Yoga currently holds little attraction, so you’ll have to put up with me a great deal longer, perhaps sporadically, perhaps not. I won’t write for the sake of writing; there are far, far too many keyboard incontinents out on the internet. But I will write when something needs to be done and no one else is doing it. The next five years are going to be assaults on so much: I speak not as someone on the left, but someone who recognises the abuse of power and is appalled to see it.  I most likely won’t have much impact. But I will have absolutely none if I don’t bother. Simply, I can’t not bother.  That scabby kid with the buckle welts burning on his flesh hasn’t had his fill yet.

Henceforth tomorrow expect a piece in why our new MP has already done something so shitty it deserves to be more widely told. Tune in.

If you have any stories, bang them over to and if you fancy throwing a few quid to help keep this site in good condition, then I’ll advance you a tip of my imaginary hat in gratitude:






A Message From Nick Palmer.

Intro by

Lord Beestonia

When I first started writing about politics, our MP was Nick Palmer. I didn’t agree with many things he supported, but I got to know him as a decent bloke and a genuinely helpful MP, willing to help anyone who asked, irrespective of their political stripe.

One complaint I did have, as a journalist eager stories, was that Nick was uncontroversial, professional and dilligent. There was little to write about, therefore. Now I look back on those days with absolute nostalgia.

Since handing the PPC reins over to Greg in 2017, he’s inevitably become less visible, but has been active in support of Greg. His latest email newsletter is printed in full here, and not solely because I’m lazy and want to spend my birthday politics free. Rather, it is a well argued and passionate plea to use your vote wisely tomorrow.

This is a binary choice, I’m afraid. A vote for anyone but Greg Marshall is a vote for a Boris Johnson majority. That’s the bottom line. Yes, the electoral system is screwed, FPTP is awful. Yet right now, don’t pretend this is a proportional representation election. Over to Nick:

Parliament has a surplus of people who define themselves by opposition to someone else. Astonishingly, the Conservative campaign this time has come down to exactly two messages, “Get Brexit done” and “We’re not Corbyn”. Do you remember anything else in their manifesto? Something about potholes, wasn’t there? And yet these hope to govern with a majority for five years.

Is that because they have no ideas? Actually, no. The Conservatives have purged their entire moderate wing. Former PM John Major. Former Chancellor Ken Clarke. Former chairman Chris Patten. The list goes on. What is left is a hardcore right-wing, nationalist party. That is why they are perfectly willing to embrace a Brexit in 2020 with no trade deal whatever, in the hope that they can construct an offshore tax-avoiding free market paradise. Since this is not an agenda that would get majority support, we’ve seen a Conservative campaign that would raise eyebrows in a Third World autocracy, grounded on a personality cult, lies, evasion and a blizzard of negative propaganda. It’s an embarrassment to a modern democracy.
On Thursday, either Darren Henry or Greg Marshall will be elected to represent you – the latest polls show them locked in a close race, far ahead of every other candidate. Darren represents the new breed of Conservatives, chosen from Wiltshire over local Conservatives because he represented the Brexiteer faith more completely.
Greg represents the tradition that I tried to establish as an MP – positive politics, based on a strong local focus and genuine open-mindedness. One of the reasons I like Greg and have been spending so much time working for him this week is that he predominantly stands for a positive vision – for decent public services, for a fair chance for everyone, for schools that have the resources to give a strong educational basis. Without these things, our society will decline – in productivity, in opportunity, in spirit. And he supports a reasonable compromise to end the Brexit nightmare – a fresh referendum with a choice of remaining members or leaving the political union but staying in a sensible customs union with our neighbours.
He’d make the better representative for Broxtowe, a constituency that has never embraced polarised extremism.
Please vote for positive politics, and support Greg Marshall on Thursday.
Nick Palmer

A Favour To Ask…

So here we are. It’s election eve and within 36 hours we’ll know where the country will be sitting for the next five years.

I’ve been struck down with a horrendous cold, and life is being experienced as if within a deep-sea diving suit. The occasion administration of Sudafed and paracetamol lets me enjoy temporary surfacing, before all the holes in my face clog up again and I’m back, deep in the Mariana Trench.

It’s also my birthday. And I hope these two facts serve to explain why a scheduled slew of pre-election day content – analysis, insight, rumour and psephology- will be replaced by a short piece on who I’ll be voting for tomorrow, and why.

That’ll be online soon, so in the meantime here is a way you can make this birthday special and get me what I’ve always wanted: a hopeful future for robust local journalism.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been aided in this blog by Chris Tregenza and Faith Pring, two volunteers who came forward after I put out a request on Twitter for help covering the campaigns. They both came forward, and have done a fantastic job. I’m sure you agree.

Put that appreciation into something more tangible: stick a fiver (or whatever you can) towards the fund I’m running to give them a wage for what they’ve done, making them professional, paid journalists and in a world that is still struggling to work out a way to prioritise truth, there is a a hunger for good journalism.

Every penny will go directly to the two young hacks – this blog has given me so much over the last decade I’m happy to not take a wage: if I can do my bit to pushing out new journalism, I’m happy enough.

Click here: and thank you in advance x

Politics By Design – Judging politicians by their leaflets No: 7. – Dr Teck Khong

Dr Teck Khong – Independent Brexit Party People’s Front of Broxtowe

By Chris Tregenza


The leaflet’s ambitions are fatally undermined by the lack of knowledge (in design) of those behind it. Potentially good ideas are poisoned by a heavy-handed approach and lack of overall balance.

Colour Use:

The dominant colour is confidently but unhelpfully identified as Tradewind by my colour spotter app. A dodgy greeny-cyan is a more human but only slightly more useful description. The strong border to the white-space is offset by a striped background in variant grey/green shades which, as a palette, is actually quite good. However, while Dr Khong’s take on colour is more subtle and sympathetic than you’ll tend to see from his end of the political spectrum, the end result is an ugly mess.


Life and design are very similar in many ways. Sometimes you have an idea which seems foolproof but when reality hits with all its details and little awkward problems, everything turns into a mess. Of course I’m referring to the striped background to Dr Khong’s leaflet. It’s a genuinely imaginative approach, providing an easy way to bring cohesion to the overall design but the doctor chooses ride roughshod over it in favour of his own limited and badly executed ideas. From the ham-fisted approach (to bolding) and the complete failure to understand technical issues (such as font size versus line-height); to misguided ideas about how to integrate white with colour (text), this leaflet is awful.


There is only one image, a badly cropped but otherwise good photo of the man himself. Notably the working GP has a stethoscope around his neck. In normal advertising, that’s illegal because the use medical props to sell unrelated products has been abused by unscrupulous people to do untold harm to consumers. Now, election leaflets are not advertising as such so it’s legality is a complex subject. I wonder whether Dr Khong carefully did his research and spoke to experts to check everything would be OK or did he simply go ahead in total ignorance of the potential pitfalls.


There’s not much here apart from vague statements with no explanation of how they would be implemented. Though potential voters should note that while he is only “for” brexit and can merely promise “to work on” homelessness, he is confident his experience as a police surgeon will allow him to “defeat” crime.


The leaflet’s message is “Hi, you’ve never heard of me but I’m appealing to all the small-minded little-Englanders who wanted to vote for Farage”.


Listen to expert advice and think things through or otherwise you’ll end up with this mess.


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

Dear Anna by Chris Tregenza

The fall-out from Darren Henry’s rather misguided thoughts on foodbanks is still making the news, with the video passing 1.5m views on Twitter alone. On the same day Boris Johnson was so adamant not to look at the human cost of NHS austerity he stole a journalist’s phone, its not a good look for the party well beyond that describes by Theresa May in 2002.

Yet we will turn out attention to a former Tory who many assumed would be the key anti-Brexit candidate in Broxtowe. Our reporter Chris Tregenza was one of those, yet in this piece explains why things have chaged:

Dear Anna

By Chris Tregenza

Dear Anna,

In 2016 my concept of politics was torn apart. Everything I took for granted about our democracy and the basic decency of British people was upended when the voters decided to pursue an extremist agenda. That was the day I became politically active, determined to do whatever was in my power to prevent the perversion of Brexit.

Anna Soubry, by Chris Tregenza

This has led me on a strange political path as I organised hustings, co-ordinated local campaign groups and spent many cold and wet hours campaigning on the streets of Nottinghamshire. I’ve been snowed on with Revolutionary Marxists, sheltered under the golfing umbrellas of Conservative party members and shared suncream with Green party candidates.

Many of those hours have been stood next to you on People’s Vote stalls. I’ve seen you respond with dignity to abuse and talk with passion about the EU to people of all political stripes. In parliament, your speeches have been some of the most eloquent of the remain cause. While your willingness to speak truth unto power in your own party has been a true example of Churchill’s “Country, constituency, party” mantra.

No one has been a better example for the remain cause and UK democracy than yourself but I won’t be voting for you.

I want to vote for you. Your actions, sacrifices and commitment deserve my vote as a remainer. However only a small number of voters, maybe 5-10%, are deciding their vote on Brexit alone. This by itself is not enough to get you elected. To win, you need large scale defection from the Tories and Labour yet this is not happening at a national or local level.

Going into this election I expected to vote for you. In our political system independent candidates face immense problems getting elected but I thought you could do it. Your personal determination, your oratory and experience all gave you a fighting chance. Yet as the campaign progressed the fates have not been kind. The Boris-bias of the media, Labour’s Brexit strategy finally becoming clear and the failure of the Lib-Dem surge have all hurt your chances.

Since the election has been called I’ve been talking to people in Broxtowe every day – party activists, ordinary voters and those alienated by traditional party politics. Few have expressed a willingness to vote for you. All of the polling, national and local, shows you considerably behind both Labour and the Conservatives.

My doubts about Greg Marshall are similar to your own and should he be elected, all Broxtowe will get is a loyal servant to the party machine. However Labour is now firmly behind a second referendum with an option to remain. There’s no doubt that elements within Labour will fight to subvert this commitment but that is a battle for another day.

If Boris gets a majority, the remain cause is dead. We won’t get a second referendum and instead we will plunge into the worst possible Brexit. Stopping Boris on the 12th is the only way forward for remain.

Anna, you deserve better than this. Never have I been prouder of a local MP then watching you demolish the lies of leavers in the House of Commons but elections are all about winning. As a remainer I must do whatever I can to stop Boris and stop Brexit. In Broxtowe, only Labour have a chance of beating the Conservatives.

That is why I will be voting for Greg Marshall.


Chris Tregenza



by Lord Beestonia

I wasn’t able to attend last nights hustings as I was too busy posting content on here / being lazy, but it seems to have been a cracker and one particular bit of video seems to have gone a bit viral for the sheer awfulness of what was said.


In defence of Darren Henry, he did apparently follow this up by saying payday lenders should be better regulated, but that seemed to be a little bit like Marie Antoinette saying “Let them eat cake” and noticing that she didn’t get the reaction she wanted, follow up with “Lidl have a two for one on cherry bakewells right now”.



by Chris Tregenza

So, you are a Broxtowe voter whose number one goal is stopping Brexit (AKA subverting the democratic will of the people). Who should you vote for?

This is a tricky call and no one can agree – not the candidates, not the tactical voting websites and certainly not the people of Broxtowe. Speaking to die-hard remainers of all political stripes I’ve heard various views and some pretty interesting (and possibly libelous) reasons why such-and-such a candidate can’t be supported.

Remainers have three real choices:

Greg Marshall (Labour) – Historically the party most likely to come second to the Tories which gives Greg the best chance of winning. However there is deep-suspicion among hardcore remainers of Greg’s Boss. Corbyn has clearly resisted the idea of supporting a 2nd referendum at every step and some of his closest supporters are hard-core leavers. Now add in Greg’s alignment with local Corbyn supporters and the fact he hasn’t been trumpting his own remain credentials (he campaigned for remain in 2016) and there is a nagging fear Corbyn could pull a fast one should he ever get into No 10.

Anna Soubry (Change) – The candidate with the best, though certainly not perfect, remain credentials. As well as voting in parliament for A50, in the 2017 election Anna refused to attend a Brexit-focused hustings event because “Brexit was a dead issue”. Since then she has endured the slings & arrows (& credible death threats) of the Brexitiers and earned the respect of many people in the constituency. However, her star has been waning since Change UK formed and the People’s Vote campaign has refused to support her re-election bid. Weirdly, she has also focused her campaign (or at least campaign materials) on her record as an MP and not as an icon of the remain cause. After a campaign which has failed to make waves and a national shift towards Labour, Soubry’s chance of winning are fading fast.

Kat Boettge (Green) – A staunch remainer representing a party unambiguously pro-EU make Kat a good candidate. Many Labour remainers have been looking at the Greens as a less-bad option than Souby. However neither nationally nor locally have the Greens been making any impact on the campaign trail. As the realities of our out-dated First-Past-The-Post system start to bite, voters are reverting to type. In this crazy election, anything can happen but it will be a massive upset if Kat wins.

Tactical voting only works when there is a clear option but in Broxtowe the future has been looking decidedly cloudy. But as we enter the final week of campaigning Greg is emerging as the most credible option for Remain.



Intro by Lord Beestonia

Lots to get through, and I’ll use this state of busy to use as mitigation for describing Gregg Marshall as our ‘Conservative Candidate’. This was swiftly pointed out to me, by no less than the candidate himself, and amended accordingly. Please don’t think I’ve been hijacked by Russian bots to spew out fake news. Nyet, nyet, nyet.

I’m missing tonight’s hustings – staying out past 7pm is anathema when you have spent the day with a toddler- but I’m sure I’ll hear how well -or otherwise – it goes. Let us know!

We have two things for you today: a forensic look at the seat-searching adventures of Darren Henry by guest contributor Simon Cross; and a close look at the dilemma facing Leave- supporting voters by Chris Tregenza – a Remain version will be published tomorrow.

Please don’t forget that this blog is entirely funded by donations, which in themselves barely cover expenses and a few millimeters of expended shoe leather. If you could put a fiver our way, we’d be chuffed to bits and know that in a world where reliable local news is fast drying-up, we’ll continue to be a sparkling spring of insight and news: fivers can be sent to us here:  . Every penny will be spent on vodka and those big bear hats   our great team of young hacks.

Henry the Sixth: Any Seat Will Do

by Simon Cross

Interesting to read Darren Henry describing Broxtowe as ‘home’ in Faith Pring’s recent interview with him for Beestonia.  On his website our recently selected Conservative Parliamentary Candidate says:

‘We spent many happy years in the Broxtowe constituency before I was posted away by the Royal Air force to serve our country and we always wanted to come back home. Having moved back home to Broxtowe and the communities that exist within it, the independent businesses, the nature reserves, our local pubs, we are elated to be living here close to our family and friends – back where we belong, in Broxtowe.  I am honoured and proud to be a man of Broxtowe and I want to make it an even better place to live.’

But the would-be MP’s links to Broxtowe appear tenuous.  When he left the RAF in 2013 did Mr Henry head ‘home’ to Nottinghamshire?  No: he settled 170 miles away near Salisbury where he has lived and worked since, rising to become Area Chairman of Wiltshire Conservatives.  In 2017 Darren Henry was elected onto his local Council to representative his local ward Till and Wylve Valley- a place he called home.

The selection of Cllr Henry has proven controversial within the local Conservative Association with few members turning out to work for their new representative. A former senior member has been less than impressed by the Tory candidate and, in particular, the narrative underpinning his personal journey:


Facts below support this observation.  Despite protesting he is not a ‘professional politician’ Mr Henry has devoted a huge amount of time and effort trying to become parliamentary candidate in five constituencies in five different regions starting in the West Midlands, then South West, followed by the South East,  London and finally the East Midlands.  He also tried becoming Police & Crime Commissioner for his home patch in Wiltshire.  He has certainly clocked up some impressive miles in recent years.

2015– Mr Henry’s first incursion into electoral politics appears to be his contesting the then marginal Wolverhampton North East in the General Election that year.  Working for the locally based (and now defunct) outsourcing firm Carillion seems to have been his only discernible connection to the city.  The election resulted in the Labour incumbent doubling her majority.

2017– the newly elected Wiltshire Cllr Henry didn’t contest the snap General Election. During the last 16 months he has stepped up his efforts to find a parliamentary opportunity…  literally here, there and everywhere.

2018– in July Cllr Henry sought the parliamentary nomination for Stroud in Gloucestershire.  It is not clear what local connection he had other than campaigning against car parking charges on a visit to the area.


Perhaps he was inspired by high-profile interventions on this issue from the actor who played Fallon in Dynasty and the former sidekick of TV’s Alexander Armstrong.



Alas, it was not be and the local Conservative Association opted to select a former Camden Councillor instead

2018– in October Cllr Henry sought the parliamentary nomination for his native Bedford.


But, having only been added to the shortlist following the withdrawal of another candidate, he was not successful.

PicturDDDSe1PictureDDD1 2019– April saw the end of a process that began in November 2018 when Cllr Henry put himself forward to become Police & Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire in an election to be contested in 2020

He had to wait five months for the party to select the other candidate for the post.

2019– in July Darren Henry was seeking to become parliamentary candidate for the UK’s third most marginal seat of Kensington, West London.  He must have fancied his chances, with columnist Andrew Pierce of the Daily Mail identifying him as the ‘favourite’ before describing him as ‘a carpetbagging councillor from Wiltshire with no local connection whatsoever’.

Self-styled ‘Tory Boy’ Pierce’s acidic compliment might have swung it because, you guessed it, Cllr Henry was still looking for a parliamentary berth.

AP2APpng2019– September.  And so after his fifth attempt, or sixth if you include the shot at being a Police Commissioner for his home patch, Broxtowe came up.  At least Darren Henry could copy and paste the CV he drew up when seeking to become Wiltshire’s PCC for reuse in this seat having deleted the bit about his actual home of the last six years.

In summary Darren Henry has sought nominations six times:

  1. Wolverhampton, 2015
  2. Stroud, 2018
  3. Bedford, 2018
  4. Wiltshire, 2018-2019
  5. Kensington, 2019
  6. Broxtowe, 2019

So, invoking the name of an epic Shakespearean play, we’re Henry the Sixth’s choice.  But you wouldn’t know this when he talked up his ‘very very very strong local connection here’ (twenty years ago remember) in his interview with Faith which breathily continued: ‘When I close my eyes and finish my life, it’s going to be here in Broxtowe, so it’s perfect for us’.  Yeah, right.  Remind you of anything?  The words of a famous song beginning ‘I closed my eyes’ perchance?  Well to paraphrase the title of that tune Darren Henry’s really is a case of ‘Any Seat Will Do’.

References not inserted above

Stroud: scroll down to date in question references venue in constituency

Wiltshire PCC:


Leavers Dilemma

by Chris Tregenza

As a true democratic patriot, delivering a Brexit that represents the 17.4 million is the only issue for this election. In Broxtowe this is a two-horse race between the Tories and the Brexit Party Independent candidate. Yes technically there is another candidate but she is a hate-filled troll and I’m not wasting my time on that attention-seeking turd.

In the blue corner we have Darren Henry (Conservative). With Boris and his deal, this election should be a shoe-in for Darren but there are three problems. Firstly, Darren is a remainer and therefore cannot speak for the 17.4 million true patriots who voted leave. Secondly there is Boris’ deal which sells off Northern Ireland to the EU plus the UK will still have to accept many EU laws. Thirdly, Boris is a lying buffoon who will say anything to get elected so there is a lack of credibility in Darren’s bid to be King of the Leavers.

Facing Darren in the different-shade-of-blue corner is Dr Teck Khong (Independent). When Farage sold out his customers supporters and pulled his candidate out of Broxtowe, local leavers scrambled around for a new candidate and picked Dr Khong. It’s certainly a good choice – well educated and well spoken he breaks through the gammon-stereotype. While I have no first hand knowledge of his views, the hard-core leavers in my aquaintance certainly rate him as having true “leave” credibility.

Dr Khong’s chance of winning are extremely thin. Short of Boris announcing he now a remainer it is hard to see the good doctor getting his deposit back. But, as every true leaver knows, all we have to do is believe in Brexit enough and anything is possible.


As an aside, can we take a moment to note the progressive nature of the candidates standing in Broxtowe, We have two women candidates (one German), two BAME candidates (and not from the end of the political spectrum you might expect), and one working-class pensioner. This diverse mix of candidates speaks well for the multicultural and rich tapestry of life in Broxtowe.





Intro from Lord Beestonia

It’s been a whirlwind couple of days since we last posted here, so forgive our slight hiatus in keeping you in the know when it comes to Broxtowe.

Corbyn came to Nottingham yesterday, inspiring the leader of the journalism course I’mIMG_20191204_124047 doing some teaching on to turn the event into a bit of live journalistic experiences for our cohort of wannabe hacks. Cameras, mics and determination in place, we marched across town to Nottingham Castle to find a gathering crowd, including the world’s media pointing lenses at the opposition leader. Corbyn gave his usual set, throwing in those crowd pleasing bangers plus some new material he’s working on, then was mobbed by fans. As the only person in Britain not to have a strong opinion either way on Corbyn (I also occasionally like Marmite, occasionally don’t), I can say with a degree of objectiveness that in the half-dozen times I’ve covered events with Corbyn I still find it weird to see such rock-bandesque levels of fandom, especially among the young. A short time ago, any political event with a key figure -Clegg, Miliband, etc, would be stuffed full of long-term activists, grey of hair and their sensible jackets bearing the needle marks of dozens of pinned rosettes as surely as a junkie’s arms. I’d be easily in the youngest third of the audience. Not now. Whatever the result, we should at least be delighted that the young are politicised again and see the point in trying to change the world.

While I remain an agnostic, one thing I do believe in with a passion is decent journalism,


Beestonia announces it’s latest signing. I wish.

and few embody that than the thoughtful, quietly incisive Gary Gibbon, long-term political editor at Channel 4. You’ll forgive therefore my own gauche actions in introducing myself to him when I spotted him in the crowd, and having a very interesting chat with him. He even consented to a selfie, where I later noted I seem to have styled my hair in tribute to him.


In other news, we have a hustings, and we have it tomorrow! Over at Beeston Parish Church, BBC East Midland’s Political Editor Tony Roe will be chairing from 7.30pm -arrive at 7 to guarantee a seat. More details here.



By Faith Pring

As the general election quickly approaches, we’ve put another Broxtowe candidate in the hot seat, this time the spotlight is on Labour’s Greg Marshall.

Greg first joined the Labour party in the early 1990s after being raised in a Labour household which apparently influenced him to maintain an active role within politics.

“I was influenced by that, but you have to make your own decisions. My sister had exactly the same upbringing as I did and she’s not heavily involved in politics, so you make your own choices and see things you want to try and change,” he explains.

As someone who has worked for the Environment Agency for 25 years, Greg’s priorities lie in a wide range of places, but most importantly, they lie wherever the Broxtowe think they lie.

“You talk to people on the doorsteps, and often the bread and butter issues like the NHS, transport, education, or the economy could up just as often as Brexit. We need to be aware that Brexit isn’t a defining factor in people’s lives.”

“I’m really keen to say that I’m not ignoring Brexit, we have to face that, but as important, we have to acknowledge the things that are just as important,” he added.

Despite Brexit not being at the top of his priorities, he still believes he made enough of an effort in the lead up to the 2016 referendum, despite some people thinking he hasn’t been proactive enough in voicing his opinions about Remain.

“I think I was the biggest remain campaigner in Broxtowe in 2016, and I say that because I was often the only one carrying the pasting table down Beeston high street. I wouldn’t campaign shoulder to shoulder with Anna Soubry because of her voting record on the most severe austerity measures which have hurt thousands and thousands of people up and down the country.”

On a more national level, many people have doubted Jeremy Corbyn’s ability to lead the country, however Greg claims that Corbyn has revolutionised the face of British politics.

“We’ve seen a large increase in homelessness, the proliferation of food banks, we’ve seen utilities rocket with energy prices and train prices. We’ve seen the NHS roll out privatisation, and inequality, the gap between the haves and the have-nots.”

“Now we’ve got the chance under this labour party with Jeremy Corbyn to do something about that and say that it doesn’t have to be like this,” Greg adds.

However, Greg will be the first to admit that there are some key issues surrounding the Labour party, particularly their overall unclear stance on Brexit.

“The unique issue we had was of course that the top 30 leave seats were Labour, and the


Greg, This is England director Shane Meadows and John McDonnell in Beeston earlier today. Photo shamelessly nicked off Twitter.

 top 30 remain seats were Labour so we had a unique problem in how we were gonna pursue our Brexit position.”

“That’s been difficult but I am convinced now that the Labour party position is the right position to hold. I wouldn’t say it’s been dead easy, but the position we have now is the fairest and the best position we can have on the Brexit issue,” Greg claims.

As a trade unionist for the Environment Agency, one of Greg’s key aims is to battle climate change in the small window of opportunity he believes we have to resolve the issue. However, he admits that climate change activism group Extinction Rebellion may have made mistakes.

“There are no two ways about it, we are in a climate emergency, and I’ve organised climate strike meetings here in Broxtowe and I am supportive of the action that Extinction Rebellion take as a kind of string to the bow of campaigning and raising the very real and present issues that we are facing.”

“I think they have made mistakes because some of their actions have impacted what I would consider ordinary commuters and workers trying to get to work. If organisations like that are taking direct action, then they maybe just have to be more carefully thought out about the ramifications.”

Ultimately, why should you vote for Labour, and more importantly, Greg Marshall?

“I guess there’s a couple of reasons. We are facing either a Johnson, Farage and Trump direction in the country at the minute which is an inward looking, isolationist one for the rich and powerful and driving down working standards, or one of mutual respect, collaboration, investment and having a wider view of the world.”

“I think we’re on a cusp of real change that we haven’t seen the likes of for forty years and I want to be the one to offer that positive vision of the world, of Britain and Broxtowe,” Greg admits.

Whether it’s his passion for real change in Broxtowe and in Britain, the decision of if he gets your vote is up to you.

ELECTION 19 SPECIAL: The Hateful Troll and the Paedo’s of Doom

A  very strange day where I had an unpleasant run in with the fascists Chris Tregenza describes in the excellent article below; and a reader of this blog and good friend and neighbour Neville Westerman managed to blow himself- and most of his house – up. After a roller-coaster of conflicting statements on his well-being, I eventually received a picture and a witness report showing he was ok – in a bit of a mess, but ok, and that more than off-set the depressing sight of out-and-out fascists on our streets. Nev is the polar opposite of them: he’s affable, community-spirited, kind and compassionate. More Nevs, please. Lord Beestonia.

The Hateful Troll and the Paedo’s of Doom

The trouble with writing about fascists is that fascists want to be written about. All

WhatsApp Image 2019-12-03 at 20.00.08 (1)

Shite Knight Fascist

publicity is good publicity as far as they are concerned. Even when, say, a Conservative Councillor is caught posting hate on their Facebook page and is suspended from the party, this is seen as free advertising for the fascist cause. Because while most people tut in disgust there are those who quietly nod approval and enable the hate-merchant to pop-up somewhere new as, say, a campaign manager.

Which brings us onto the fascists standing for election in our own backyard. We will not give her or the “party” she represents the dignity of their names but instead refer to her as the Hateful Troll and the Paedo Party. If you don’t know to who we are referring to, lucky you.

Now we don’t bandy the term fascist around lightly. It is not a generic insult for anyone on the right-wing. Darren Henry (Conservative) is not a fascist just because he is standing for a political party which created a hostile environment for immigrants and caused the Windrush scandal.  Likewise Dr Khong (Independent Brexit Party) isn’t a fascist just because he wants a no-deal Brexit. To the best of my knowledge, Dr Khong is a genuinely caring and intelligent man who just happens to want to keep foreigners out

Fascism is ultra-nationalism; it targets minorities as the enemy and blames everything on them; it claims to uphold law and democracy while simultaneously decrying any decision it doesn’t like as the act of traitors. As you can see, there is no way mainstream politicians in the Conservatives or Brexit Party could be called fascists.

Now the Hateful Troll and her Paedo party tick all the boxes. Excessive use of Union Jacks – tick. The failure of public services the fault of immigrants – tick. The judge who banned her from Broxtowe a traitor – tick.

It is easy to dismiss the Hateful Troll as harmless nutter. She tried to “commit suicide” fifty times, costing the emergency services £1,000,000 in helicopter rescues and was eventually banned from the entire UK coastline. She also used an illegal weapon to disrupt an anti-Trump protest but only managed to cut herself with it. While it would be inappropriate to comment on the Hateful Troll’s state of mind, she certainly does like being the centre of attention.

The weird thing about the Paedo Party the Troll represents is that their central idea of England having a separate parliament as part of federal UK is quite a progressive idea. It’s one of the possible outcomes as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland edge towards independence. Of course, their ideas about who would be allowed to vote for that parliament are the very definition of “Little England”.

The Hateful Troll will not win in Broxtowe, but not because most people around here are decent, friendly folks. The same can be said of America in 2016 or Germany in 1931. She will lose because winning is not the goal. An election is a chance to spread hate, a chance to let other mean and inadequate people know they are not alone.

Everytime a journalist writes about fascists we incur a debt to society. We inadvertently amplify the fascists hate even as we do our job of keeping people informed. Please help me repay the debt I owe for this article. Tell your Polish co-worker you are glad they came to our country; thank your Mum’s Latvian care-worker for treating her with respect; or say good morning to the elderly Chinese couple doing Tai-Chi in the park. Don’t let the merchants of hate use our democracy to make our country poorer.   Chris Tregenza


WhatsApp Image 2019-12-03 at 20.00.09

The hero we need right now: Dave Bishop.

A happy postscript: Dave Bishop, aka Militant Elvis, came to protest against the fascists and do a bit of campaigning himself. Let’s hope he soundly beats the Paedo Party next week. 



Politics By Design – Judging politicians by their leaflets. No: 6. Kat Boettge – The Green Party

Yesterday’s piece on the Broxtowe Conservative civil war has thrown up a couple more serious allegations: these are being verified and we’ll have a further story up soon. In other news, YouGov have looked at Broxtowe and calculated that barring a miracle, Anna Soubry will not be our MP on December 12th. While the best performing of all the Change candidates, that’s much the same as being the most sober drunk. She’s failed to create a substantial position, despite the Lib Dems stepping aside to aid her cause. We are  very much are a straight up two-horse race now, and watch considerable resources flowing into Broxtowe to take the seat. 

Will Soubry even beat the Greens, who could pick up a strong protest vote-share and gain third place? It’s too early to tell, so instead we asked Chris Tregenza to cast his critical eye over their latest leaflet. Is it a winner? Should it go straight into the recycling bin? Over to Chris… Lord Beestonia

Politics By Design – Judging politicians by their leaflets. No: 6. Kat Boettge – The Green Party


Overall: As a design nerd, what jumped out to me is the odd choice of paper size. A sort of tall A5, close to but not actually C5. To ordinary people, what will strike them is the colour.

Colour Use: If your party is called The Green Party there is only one way to go and this leaflet doesn’t disappoint. We have light greens, dark greens, gradated greens – at least five different distinct shades. It certainly leaves you no doubt who the leaflet is from but the designer lacks the ability to make it work.

Typography: Oh god kill me now. To be fair, nearly all the text is clearly readable and that is the number one goal of all typesetting. More professional designs from other parties have fallen short on that particular issue. Where this leaflet comes apart is on alignment, font-sizing, margins, padding and consistency. I’m pretty sure the leaflet was typeset in Microsoft Word and it is really hard to get something decent from that heap of shit but even so.

Images: On the front is a nice professional black & white shot of the candidate (other candidates please take note). However it’s haphazardly placed and out of alignment with any other element on the page. The back has a photo of Kat with supporters adding the only non-green colour to leaflet but please, please, please, candidates, please – if you have a group shot, make sure the candidate is front and centre of the image.

Also on the back is one of the images which tells me this leaflet was designed by someone without any experience. It’s a Green Party logo occupying a third of the page. This shouldn’t be a problem but the designer makes the beginner’s mistake of taking a small image from the internet and scaling up for use in print. If you don’t understand why this is a problem, please don’t ever design a leaflet.

Truthiness: There is little here in the way of policy or claims so nothing to fact check.

Message: The leaflet limits itself to three issues – remain in the EU, environmental action and Kat the person. This is a good tactic and better than the Labour or Tory leaflets which have tried to say too much and end-up saying nothing. However it is let down by the execution which is haphazard and scattered rather than one clear narrative. I must also point out that, as a Guardian reading, musili-eating lefty (i.e. the target market), the fact Kat was on Wife Swap, even a Brexit special, is not a selling point.

Summary: Good ideas but unable to deliver any meaningful impact. So sums up the Greens nicely.


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


By Lord Beestonia. No, I’m not a real Lord for heaven’s sake

We predicted before the election that Broxtowe Conservatives are not in a happy place. After what most assumed would be a uncontroversial coronation in selecting Cllr. Richard Jackson for the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Broxtowe was scuppered, a strange civil war has kicked off that has just blown out into the open.

Many in the party are unhappy a candidate was seemingly parachuted in, especially after his many dalliances with other seats. Whatever your opinion of Cllr Jackson, it can be said that he was a long-term local politician who – even when he was trying to abolish the very same council he was head of– knew the area and it’s unique problems. Yet his loyalty over the years to Anna Soubry, now anathema to the Brexit-addled Blues, seems to have tainted him in the eyes of those who voted, and Henry became the candidate.

Usually Tories are good at repressing their angst for electoral gain: after kicking out some of the most esteemed party grandees and being untruthful to the Queen, Boris has survived stuff parties with higher standards would have collapsed under. So far, so Trumpian. Yet the frustration in Broxtowe has blown a gasket, at least with long term party activist and former Brox Cons Deputy Chairman Sally Brealey, who tweeted this last week:

WhatsApp Image 2019-12-01 at 15.53.24.jpeg

ooof! There’s more…

WhatsApp Image 2019-12-01 at 15.57.34 (1)

Picking up the attack last night, she laid this charge at Henry’s door, and it’s a serious one:

WhatsApp Image 2019-12-01 at 15.57.55 (1)

Woah. Who is the Campaign Manager? Sally provides some help:

WhatsApp Image 2019-12-01 at 15.57.55

… and who is Carl Husted? Well. he isn’t exactly the best ambassador for the Tories.

WhatsApp Image 2019-12-01 at 15.57.55 (3)WhatsApp Image 2019-12-01 at 15.57.55 (2)

That last sick and hateful trivalising the rise of the Nazis and ensuing Holocaust rightfully earned him a rebuke and a suspension for the Conservative Party. This scuppered his chances of taking the Wollaton West seat in the last round of local elections

His reappearance on the scene, in the position, according to Brealey, of ‘Campaign Manager’ is worrying. I contacted Darren Henry for comment, who immediately denied Brealey’s claims:

“The person Sally refers to is not my Campaign Manager but someone who has volunteered to distribute leaflets and his short suspension is over now anyway”

When pressed on this, he again denied that Husted is Campaign Manager, and when asked what disciplinary process Husted has been put through to allow him to rejoin the party following the disgraceful remarks, he replied

“Naturally, it is not appropriate for me (to) comment on your second point”

So, who is right: Henry or Brealey? Brealey also alluded to sensitive data on Conservative members being being passed around to non-Broxtowe members, in possible contravention of GDPR:

WhatsApp Image 2019-12-01 at 16.22.33

We will be following on this soon…..

With less than a fortnight left and a lackluster campaign being ran by the Tories (the reluctance of many activists has left them begging to other constituencies) is damaging their chances of retaining the seat. It’s certainly scaring off formally loyal voters


After all, in these bitterly divided times, what attraction a party that can’t even hold itself together, let alone the UK?


A quick postscript: it seems Brealey is a fan of this blog, judging by her Twitter profile:


If you also support independent local journalism, I am fundraising to allow my small team a few quid to cover the time, effort and shoe leather this costs. I will personally not be taking a penny myself: everything donated will go directly to them. If you can help and sling us a fiver, please do:


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?


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


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



 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


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:
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


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


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



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


‘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


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:


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:


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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


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 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:

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



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: ) 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


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.


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


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)


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



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:

Lord Beestonia





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…



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


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




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