P-15: You can make a difference by coming to Stoke-on-Trent

Could we have any more by-elections of late? Witney, Richmond Park, Sleaford & North Hykeham, Copeland and now Stoke-on-Trent Central. It’s certainly fair to say that the range of constituencies and the differing geographical demographics will give a good insight into statistical analysis of political opinion – like an on-going live poll.

But some by-elections perform specific functions, have a bespoke purpose and achieve singular status and significance. In the legend of the by-election wins of the 1990’s Ribble Valley ended the Poll Tax, Eastbourne saw the return of the Liberal Democrats to winning form, Christchurch ended full rate VAT on fuel – the challenge is to make Stoke-on-Trent Central the end of the rise of the far-right in Britain.

Now there are lots of concerns about where the world is heading. Donald Trump, climate change denials, rolling back equalities legislation, the rise of parochial nationalism and the start of overt xenophobia to name a few. I’m sitting in Shelton, Stoke-on-Trent, helping with the campaign to elect Dr Zulfiqar Ali as the Liberal Democrat MP for the local area.

Now then, Stoke-on-Trent faces many challenges and would massively benefit from having a new, ambitious, capable, hard-working local MP. But our plea is not just for the benefit of Staffordshire – rather this is a real opportunity to end the negative agenda and establish something optimistic, outward looking and liberal.

So a brief insight: UKIP have rented a high profile shopping centre drop-office, they have mobilised their gaggle of activists from across the country and shuffled them all into a hall for a Farago Rally last week with 600 of their people present. Their campaign is noisy, involves delivering lots of A5 fliers that all look the same and seems to be focussed on supporting Nigel Farage. However, in terms of their actual candidate Mr Paul Nuttall, there are three slight problems.

1. He admitted on camera that he had never been to the address named on his nomination papers, although he would be moving in “for the campaign.”
2. He is standing to be an MP in Westminster and failing to mention that he is already a member of the European Parliament.
3. Everyone knows Nuttall is just using Stoke-on-Trent as a platform for the ambitions of him and his party and that has nothing to say or do for the people of Stoke and their proud City.

So if you enjoy by-elections you should come. If you know Zulfiqar then you will come because you know how sincere and impassioned he is. If you just joined the Liberal Democrats and want to get involved then you will come for the training and experience. But more than all of those, if you want to stop the rise of division, of hatred, of xenophobia and of UKIP then you should make time to come up and talk to local residents and urge them to vote for a positive alternative.

Demonstrating in the streets about Trump’s Muslim ban, angry about the war in Syria and the crushing of Aleppo, you voted Remain and are wanting a positive relationship with Europe – for all of these reasons, I am urging you to come up to Stoke-on-Trent and support Dr Zulfiqar Ali. This is a positive campaign and success here will make a difference, success here will elect a positive alternative and seeing UKIP stopped and rejected is a goal all of its own. It’s just 15 days to polling day – please, book a train or get in the car and come and help.  Sign up here.

See you soon I hope, and massive thanks in advance.

* Ed Fordham is a party member and activist in Chesterfield, Derbyshire.

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11 Comments

  • nigel hunter 8th Feb '17 - 10:28pm

    It seems to me he does not think he can win the seat with his name on the leaflets so he uses the name of Farage. If he cannot campaign in person he therefore does not deserve to win. Staffs. is better off without him.

  • Why did our candidate not attend the hustings meeting

  • Catherine Royce 9th Feb '17 - 10:30am

    It seems to me that if we have any chance of not facing 20years of unfettered Conservative governments, and bearing in mind the coming boundary changes in their favour, we need, at some point soon, to test the centre left alliance idea whereby only one candidate is put up against the frontrunner. Would Stoke fit the bill to prevent UKIP getting their second MP? -that seems a very noble cause to me, and an action we could be proud of.

  • Robert (Bristol) 9th Feb '17 - 11:09am

    I can’t go but would happily send a donation. Please publicise to whom cheques should be made payable and where they should be sent.

  • Nonconformistradical 9th Feb '17 - 12:02pm

    @Catherine Royce
    “we need, at some point soon, to test the centre left alliance idea whereby only one candidate is put up against the frontrunner. Would Stoke fit the bill to prevent UKIP getting their second MP? -that seems a very noble cause to me, and an action we could be proud of.”

    Aside from the fact that nominations closed long ago so our candidate Dr Zulfiqar Ali is on the ballot paper come what may – there is no centre-left alliance which could possibly be formed involving the LibDems, Greens and Corbynite labour.

    Note my emphasis on Corbynite labour.

    UKIP and Corbynite labour may be as different as chalk and cheese but LibDems have little/nothing in common, for different reasons in each case, with either of them.

    There would be nothing whatsoever noble in LibDems standing aside in this by-election.

  • Julian Heather 9th Feb '17 - 1:43pm

    Robert – it’s great to read that you are offering to pay a donation to the Stoke-on-Trent by-election campaign. I’ve just looked at the online appeal and it says this:

  • Julian Heather 9th Feb '17 - 1:44pm

    If you’d rather donate by cheque, please send a cheque made payable to “Liberal Democrats” to “Stoke-on-Trent By-election, Liberal Democrats, 8-10 Great George Street, London, SW1P 3AE”

  • The concept of “nobility”has been tried several times before in local elections. It failed miserably. It just stiffens the sinews of Conservative voters who know a stitch up when they see one.
    We totally understimate the electorate if we persist with this thinking, they know what the score is, it is just a case of identifying who is best placed. That is what comes from the campaign. UKIP are falling away nationally anyway, Stoke is no different, it is rather like their last hurrah, either Labour or the Lib Dems are going to win, if the turnout is about 40% it will be the Lib Dems, if 30% Labour.

  • Robert (Bristol) 9th Feb '17 - 2:52pm

    Julian Heather 9th Feb ’17 – 1:44pm

    If you’d rather donate by cheque, please send a cheque made payable to “Liberal Democrats” to “Stoke-on-Trent By-election, Liberal Democrats, 8-10 Great George Street, London, SW1P 3AE”

    As donations to this campaign have to be sent to national HQ rather than locally could Ed Fordham please confirm that the campaign he is running is being FULLY funded.

  • Cheques can be sent to
    Ian Horner
    C/o The Wheatsheaf Hotel, Sheaf Street, Shelton, Stoke-on-Trent, ST1 4LW
    Payable to Ian Horner Election Agent Account

  • Robert (Bristol) 9th Feb '17 - 3:36pm

    Thanks for that Ed the cheque’s in the post!

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