Here's my letter to the press. Al Murray if you are reading this please get in touch and I will buy you a pint!
Al Murray the Pub Landlord has a democratic right to stand for election in Thanet South. I respect this right, but the cynic in me suggests that this is more about reviving a stalled career on the back of Thanet South’s voters, than a serious effort to engage in the politics of one of the most deprived parliamentary constituencies in the country.
True, Murray’s candidature may provide huge comic potential, which might undermine UKIPs angry Little England appeal, but conversely irony and satire can sometimes lend credibility to the target.
However, the important point is this: Farage and the Labour, Conservative and Lib-Dem candidates are all members of politics' “austerity establishment” and are firmly tied to a programme of draconian cuts to public services.
With the exception of the Greens, not one of them is campaigning on the extremely serious issues facing many people living in the constituency, such as tackling the massive health inequalities in a district served by a hospital in special measures; dealing with significant educational under achievement in a constituency with its major comprehensive school also in special measures; regenerating an economy with the highest rate of unemployment and the lowest wages in south east England; calling to account an out of control Jobcentre, which is sanctioning benefits at twice the rate of anywhere else in the county; providing more social housing for the 6,000 people lingering on the longest housing waiting list in Kent; campaigning to reform a council described by the Local Government Association as “toxic” and by Eric Pickles as a “democracy dodger”.
Sadly, Murray’s candidature will detract attention from these issues and provide yet another excuse for the “austerity establishment” to avoid talking about the consequences of their actions in a seat they aspire to win. In my opinion, Murray’s candidature is counterproductive and an insult to the people of Thanet South, many of whom are struggling to get by in hard times.
Finally for those not familiar with Thanet South politics, you may like to know that there already is a pub landlord standing for election in the constituency. He is Nigel Askew, who runs the Queen Charlotte, my local, in Addington Street Ramsgate. It is, as far I know, the only anti-fracking pub in the world! Nigel is standing for Bez's Reality Party.
My fear is that, rather than campaigning about social justice, public services and regeneration in one of the most deprived areas of the country, we will have the spectacle of two pub landlords and a well know pub regular vying for votes in a contest which, with the help of the media circus which is already gathering in Ramsgate, soon be reduced to a pissup in brewery.
Councillor Ian Driver, Thanet District Council
Green Party Prospective Parliamentary Candidate Thanet South