There’s nothing like a by-election. Activists get excited and take off into nearby constituencies like biddies on a Saga holiday. Media outlets send posh boys into sink towns searching in vain for Red Wall savages and pubs that Guy Ritchie would reject as too clichéd. Best of all, the ‘independents’ come out from under whichever rock they’ve been hiding and, in the sunlight of public exposure, manage the neat trick of making a £500 deposit disappear overnight.
We’re truly blessed with three by-elections at the minute. It would have been four had it not been for “Mad Nads” Dorries’ vanity and publishing deal, which means the alert punter can get a good bet on her timing the announcement so that her fiction about Boris Johnson being removed by The Blob/Establishment/Aliens/Gary Lineker will come out for the start of conference season and give book sales a lift.
However, let’s not be greedy. Time to run the rule over this week’s runners and riders.
Uxbridge and South Ruislip
The last time Johnson was actually here will, in all likelihood, have been to vote. It’s quite a field.
Kingsley Hamilton Anti-Ulez (Independent): If you’re not from London, you’ll think “that’s a funny name”, until you get to the Lib Dem. Apparently, there are a depressing number of white, privileged men who think the No 1 issue is that an attempt to make air quality better and save the planet is an assault on personal freedom not seen since Stalin’s purges. Not only that, but it’s part of a sinister, left-wing conspiracy to … er, I can’t follow the argument. Anyway, when do us lefties find time to get together and arrange all these complex, worldwide conspiracies? When are the meetings? Why don’t I get invited?
Blaise Maxime Pasqual Baquiche (Liberal Democrats): Comes with a green salad, feta and olives. Runner-up in the Ruislip Most Bourgeois Name Contest for four years between 2015 and 2019.
Danny Boy Beales (Labour): Is whocanivotefor.co.uk a spoof website? Was he in Eastenders? No, I just checked. Satire is dead, or at least it smells a bit from here. Leave it to old comedians who haven’t got over the fact they were president of Footlights in the 90s.
Count Binface (Count Binface Party): He paid a lot for that costume and you can’t have a show without Punch.
Piers Corbyn (Let London Live): See above.
Laurence Fox (The Reclaim Party): The Screaming Lord Sutch of gammon self-pity once again deals with the terrible realisation he’s neither good at music nor comedy, by inviting us to stare into his own personal abyss.
Steve Gardner (Social Democratic Party): Controversially placed 2nd in a school fancy dress competition as George Dawes so took up politics.
Ed Gemmell (Climate Party): Looks quite normal, so much so that you wonder why he fell out with the Green Party.
Sarah Charmian Green (Green): Did they pick her because of her name? Looks like the sort of person I’d feel safe sat next to at a poetry event.
Richard John Howard Hewison (Rejoin EU): Oh mate, what’s the point? Join the Greens. Join the Lib Dems. Join Labour once they’ve had a term and lots of old people have forgotten about the Big Red Bus or died.
Howling Laud Hope (Monster Raving Loony): This joke, which first appeared on Monty Python on a Tuesday night in 1972, is now the subject of an English Heritage preservation order. Even Bruce Forsyth would have flinched at material this tired. Maybe it’s one of those meta conceits Stewart Lee might use where it goes from funny to unfunny to annoying to hilarious by constant repetition. Actually, I just tried and it doesn’t.
Rebecca Jane (UKIP): The name and photo convinced me for a second that it was one of those adverts that used to pop up on my timeline when I turned 50 telling me there were mature women in my area looking for love. They were all called Claire and all seemed to sit oddly on their settees and all lived exactly three miles away, until I turned 55 and it stopped.
Enomfon Udoka Ntefon (Christian People’s Alliance): I’m a church-attending Christian and yet some people make me want to hit myself with a plank. Her election address, which at times resembles a hostage video, eyes constantly either looking down at notes or off left to her advisors/captors, makes sinister mention of right-wing “protecting our children” tropes, as well as, randomly it seems, being anti-ULEZ. I must study the gospels more for mentions of the right to drive wherever you want. Gotta admit though, she’s versatile: as well as having a YouTube channel where she performs her own songs, she claims to be an ordained minister, stress management and relationship trainer, marriage mentor, bounce back coach and a nurse.
No ULEZ Leo Phaure (Independent): Another white male I-could-have-bought-my-kids-two-flats-in-Wakefield-giving-them-rental-income-for-life-but-instead-I-got-this-stupid-Range-Rover-which-I’m-not-allowed-to-drive-where-I-want-SO-I-WANT-MY-MUMMY!
Steve Tuckwell (Conservative): Local councillor taking one for the team.
Somerton and Frome
So much for Uxbridge, but how do they roll down in Somerton and Frome?
Lorna Irene Bromley Corke (Christian People’s Alliance): Where’s that plank? In her video – which features a very nice sideboard in two-thirds of the shot – she starts off, uncontroversially, talking about her faith and how she’d like more people to come to faith themselves. All fine as far as it goes, though how being the local MP makes that happen she doesn’t mention. Anyway, isn’t that what ordinary believers do all the time? Ten seconds before the end the hinges come off as she talks about “wave upon wave of other faiths coming into our country”. This is not the language of The Acts of the Apostles or the letters of St Paul. Father forgive us.
Martin Dimery (Green Party): His photo looks like the inside cover of the autobiography of an actor who spent 30 years playing evil masterminds in B-movies before setting up a theatre school in his hometown. Looks nowt like that in real life and obviously thought he’d appeal to the floating voter by forgetting to shave in his video.
Sarah Joanne Dyke (Liberal Democrats): At least remembering to smile in her photo, one’s eye is distracted by the frenzy of bunting in the background. The Lib Dems could nick this seat, so maybe we’ll see more of her. Cruelly, for idiots like me trying desperately to think of something amusing, she seems like a polished, professional performer (she’s a local councillor), rather than electoral cannon-fodder working their ticket.
Bruce David Evans (Reform UK): Appears to be doing it for a bet. Says “errrm” rather a lot and wins the prize for vague, non-specific platitudes like “anything that will make for a more business-friendly environment is going to be a good thing for our country”. No shit, Sherlock. Or how about “erm…erm…er.. so, reducing the cost of living?” Makes “we will fight them on the beaches” look like a drunk pooping in an alleyway.
Neil Guild (Labour): Not sure about the M&S checked shirt myself, but talks in sentences about equality and fairness, so clearly a seasoned performer who wouldn’t make a fool of himself in Westminster, though the polls suggest his political career may lie elsewhere after this run over the gallops.
Rosie Mitchell (The Independent Party): Like all self-styled “independents” it’s a simple matter of flushing out whether they’re Tory Independents or Labour. When pressed on being a former Labour member, bless her, she fails to keep a straight face, which is to her credit. She almost winks at the camera.
Faye Purbrick (Conservative): Another local councillor taking the bullet for 13 years of incompetence, lies and corruption in government. Significantly, in her video she’s dressed in black, and appears to be trying to convince herself rather than the electorate.
Peter Kevin Richardson (UKIP): Spoils his pitch totally by doing his video sat in a deckchair in his garden, which sort of goes against the Man-Of-Action vibe he’s looking for. Also, appears to have no idea what UKIP is about now they got what they wanted, and it’s wrecked the country.
Finally, there’s Selby and Ainsty
I’ll confess, I’ve lost the will now. If you’re still reading, well done, but God help me, there’s only so much of this I can take. I was supposed to be working on some poems and I’m churning this out. Still, I said more in that final admission of defeat than some of the candidates managed who are supposed to be taking it seriously.
In short, there’s the usual three, plus a bloke with a bad wig, one who calls himself “Yorkshire Tyke” councillor (who needs beating about the head with a flat cap for that alone), a Heritage Party candidate (come on, man, just admit you’re a Tory and get back to the golf, and is that a bomb on your desk?!), the compulsory Yorkshire Party and Monster Raving Loony and then some others and the Labour one’s even called Keir.
I did this so you don’t have to and I’m deeply sorry.