P-4: David Vigar comes to Stoke-on-Trent

When I was growing up in Lincolnshire one of the great ‘urban myths’ in the school ground was that Jimi Hendrix played Spalding. Only recently did it emerge that in fact this was no myth, but a hard solid evidential truth. On Spring Bank Holiday Monday May 29th 1967 he played at the Buld Auction Sheds. Now it is a matter of some legend as to whether people were there or not.

In fact, given the truths emerging in Stoke-on-Trent I am wondering if Paul Nuttall saw Jimi Hendrix in Spalding back then – I better check his website… (joke)

So why is this important? Well in the folklore of Liberal Democrat by-election campaigns I am going to put my neck on the line. In the way that Leeds Central, West Derbyshire and perhaps cruelly given the geography Newcastle Under Lyme were important.

Leeds Central was lost in 1999 by 2,293 votes and felt painfully close
West Derbyshire was lost in 1986 by just 100 votes
And Newcastle-Under-Lyme in 1988 by a mere 799.

Now in all of these instances the Local Party and in fact the entire Liberal Democrat Party has had to go through a process of mourning and claim that they had the badge of honour – “I was at X election.. we nearly won…” and their eyes sink regretfully. Now please help us make sure that Stoke-on-Trent Central is not on that list of regrets.

Yesterday in the amazing melee that was the hordes of people pouring into the HQ a group of people upon being welcomed and greeted by me said they were from Bradford-upon-Avon. Without hesitating I said what I always say when I hear that town in a Liberal Democrat context “Ah the home of David Vigar.” As I looked up, i realised it was David Vigar and family. Let me explain.

I used to be the Western Counties Campaigns Officer. David was selected for a constituency in Wiltshire pre-boundary change and he was the right candidate in the wrong seat. I can recall now the two occasions I heard him speak – enthusiastic, articulate and fundamentally liberal.  Whenever I talk politics I say I am a Liberal Democrat because “I like people, the Tories like themselves and the Labour Party like structures. Only the Liberal Democrats understand the interface between self, structures, society and individual responsibility.” Now I may have misremembered it, embellished it – but in my own heart and mind, I credit listening to David Vigar and for me to this day hearing him speak to the gathered members of Bradford-upon-Avon was an inspiration.

I don’t think I ever told him, but thank you David Vigar. For then and  yesterday…

So what we need here in Stoke-on-Trent to help us seal what could be an incredible deal – if you deliver a round of leaflets the voters will hear us, if you knock on doors and speak to five people, if you ring and speak to three people – then you will help us roll towards a result that you can all be proud.

Right, need to dash, HQ is open and it’s The Wheatsheaf Hotel, Sheaf Street, Shelton, Stoke-on-Trent ST1 4LW. See you soon. And let’s give our best support to Dr Zulfiqar Ali, he is amazing.

* Ed Fordham is a councillor on Chesterfield Borough Council and runs Brockwell Books of Chesterfield, selling many thanks, not least ephemera he bought from Liber Books over the last 25 years.

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  • Zulfiqar may be amazing but I’m still trying to find out an answer to this (there is no email on his website. Where does Zulfiqar stand on Part 3 of the Digital Economy Bill. Will be back Baroness Benjamin’s amendments?

  • Peter Chegwyn 19th Feb '17 - 10:10pm

    Minor correction to Ed’s article. The Newcastle-under-Lyme by-election was 1986, not 1988. I worked there full-time and Ed is right about the result, we missed winning by just 799 votes. More help, especially in the final week, and we’d have probably won. Don’t let the same happen again. If you can get to Stoke (or Copeland) this week, please do so.

  • If you email me on [email protected] I can pass on the query on the Bill – but it hasn’t cropped up in conversations to date – if you had any context or insight into the bill that would be helpful. I would be keen to ensure that he understood your perspective if you are one of his electors rather than simply providing a formal briefing provided by a parliamentary researcher of a Lib Dem Peer or MP. Hope that helps.

  • The media seem to think there will be a very low turnout even for a by-election. With both Labour and UKIP candidates doing their best to lose, perhaps people have been a little rash to write off the Tories. Their odds at the bookies have dropped sharply in the last 24 hours.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 20th Feb '17 - 1:05am


    With respect , as all Liberal Democrats surely do not agree on all policies , why do you ask about our Stoke candidate having a particular stance on a specific Bill, when the excellent noble lady you mention and our own peers on the front bench do not all agree!

    I personally am very glad that Baroness Benjamin has a different view. Mine is somewhere in between , hers and Lords Paddick and Clement jones ,but unity should not be unanimity.

  • Sounds like a reasonable reason to ask his views then!

  • David Vigar 20th Feb '17 - 6:57pm

    Thanks for the kind words Ed. If I said anything profound back in those days I probably stole it from Paddy Ashdown. Best of luck to you and the doctor!

  • John Littler 20th Feb '17 - 7:36pm

    Latest Ipsos Mori Poll for the Standard shows a jump for the LibDems and a fall for UKIP into 4th place and was collected before most of the lies hit the media:

    Ipsos Mori ( Standard) Voting intention figures: Conservatives 40%, Labour at 29%, the Liberal Democrats at 13% and UKIP at 9%.

    Most Britons remain pessimistic over the state of the British economy. Twenty-eight percent believe that it will improve over the next 12 months (up 1 point) while 44% say it will get worse (down 3 points) leaving an Economic Optimism Index score of -16 (up 4 points).

    Not too much there for Nuttall in Stoke.

    By the way, Hello there to Peter Chegwyn. I saw you deliver an excellent speech once in S.Hants, just after a folk festival you were involved in. I still play mandolin and keep in touch with Andy McCleod.

  • Christine Headley 24th Feb '17 - 12:29am

    Don’t forget Penrith and the Border. July 1983, when Willie Whitelaw became an earl just after the 1983 election.
    We lost by 550 – and the helpers’ names the last weekend fitted onto one side of A4. I’ve had a soft spot for Bob Maclennan ever since, as he brought his wife and children, if I recall correctly.
    Funnily enough, I stayed with relations in Keswick.

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