There are still two weeks to go in the local election campaigns but I’m not sure anything will beat the couple of strange endorsements I have come across in Crawley so far.
First there is Ifield. A regular fixture in elections in Ifield is Richard Symonds standing as an independent with a small but significant share of the vote (90 votes last time in a ward where the winning margin was about 30 votes). Richard is fiercely independent. It is no secret that he has an intense dislike of the county Tory party, but he is no less critical of ‘New Labour’. This time round he does not appear on the ballot paper at all, and has been openly endorsing John Stanley for the Labour party.
Over here in Broadfield it is even more complicated. In 2004 Marcella Head was elected as a Tory councillor. A year or so ago she defected to the Lib-Dems after disagreements with her party over council housing transfer. This year her term of office is up and she is not standing for re-election. Not only that, but the Lib-Dems are not defending the seat either so its a straight two-way contest between Labour and the Tories.
Now, after having been in the other two parties, Marcella is endorsing the Labour candidate, and is quoted as saying:
I will support Ian and wish him the best of luck in the forthcoming election. I will be urging my supporters to follow and support him also. I believe he has been, and will be, a good Councillor for Broadfield. He is a local man that knows the needs and issues important to us here in Broadfield.
The wording is a little clumsy – Ian was a good councillor, but for Southgate not Broadfield – but I thoroughly agree with the sentiments.Â I don’t usually have a lot of time for party-swapping politicians, mainly because I can’t understand how or why they do it, but this is a bit different.
I don’t think Marcella was ever a natural Tory except, perhaps, on immigration.Â I suspect she agreed to stand in 2004 on the understanding that she wouldn’t get elected and later realised that, as a council tenant, she was really in the wrong place when the Tories started trying to bully the tenants into submission.Â I suspect that her endorsement is based on personal issues as much as party politics – she knows Ian from being on the council with him albeit on the other side.
I don’t know if she knows the Tory candidate and just prefers Ian, or whether she just knows that yet another Tory backbencher will end up as nothing more than lobby-fodder in their increasingly hostile policies and prefers Ian because he would speak out more, but either way its good to see her backing the right team at last.Â Â Either way, having the sitting councillor backing a candidate from another party is always a bit of a laugh isn’t it?
But there’s still two weeks to go and time for even more unlikely endorsements to manifest themselves. What next?Â The BNP to publicly back the ethnic minority candidates in Southgate and Langley Green where they are not standing?Â Â Would anything surprise us any more?