Why I’ve left the Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election campaign

I’m sitting here in Stoke-on-Trent railway station waiting for a train to London. Yes I’m leaving the by-election – for 36 hours. Handing over the tasks, the jobs, the plans to other people whilst I hold half the information in my mind was pretty mad. And all the people I was dropping things onto, they already have jobs to do. But that’s the nature of the by-election HQ here in Stoke-on-Trent busy busy busy.

However I’m not leaving for a break, or any kind of desire to get away – I’m off to the funeral of a best friend who was untimely killed on his war to work just before Christmas in a car accident at the age of 33. So I’m off for a good old cry and a large number of real deep life-affirming hugs with some very special friends. There won’t be a dry eye in the house. I’m stopping myself from crying as I type this.

So I need another favour from you all. I’m asking you to step up and step in for my absence. We need your help on the street, on the doorsteps and on the phones. Do I matter so much? No! But every person, every delivery, every canvass makes a positive difference to our chances. And my mate, whom I’m off to say goodbye to, was positive if he was nothing else.

Why bother? Dr Zulfiqar Ali is a stunningly impressive candidate for us. Calm, unflappable, articulate, committed, political, loyal and determined. And I can say – absolutely lovely and great company. If we run the campaign we plan to run, if Stoke listens and the residents meet him, he can pull off a stunning result for you all. So more than anything else it will be an electoral boost for us all, but also it will be the success of an individual who is a superb advocate for Liberal Democracy.

So my ask is pretty simple:
1. Book your train ticket now or get in your car and clear your diary. The Postal Voters polling day is Monday 13th February so we don’t have much time.
2. Get onto your connect account and start the telephoning of the voters of Stoke-on-Trent Central – they await your call.
3. Urge others, make a donation, spread the word, support Zulfi’s social media campaign.

So, I will dash to London to pay a heartfelt homage to one of my besties, before rushing back to make him proud of the campaign we are running to stop the far right. Please cheer me up by turning up this weekend in numbers beyond our hopes… I hope to be there by 10am Saturday morning and will join the queue to get into the HQ that hopefully will have formed due to so many of your answering this call.

Love you all, love liberalism. Come and help elect Zulfi and we can share the love.

It’s The Wheatsheaf Hotel, Sheaf Street, Shelton, Stoke-on-Trent, ST1 4LW and the event page for the weekend is here .

* 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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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Deepest sympathy, Ed ♡

  • Sorry for your loss.

    I do object to being described as “far right” just because I’m UKIP. It’s simply not true. Having lived in Spain during the time of Franco, I know exactly what’s involved in an extreme right regime. Judging from the way the Tories have re-invented themselves since the referendum, having been scared witless by our potential threat and given that we now have many ex-Labour members, these days they are more to the right than us.

    I have no idea why you guys are so pro-EU, I can only assume you don’t ever talk to ordinary European citizens, that they are priced out of their homes, have huge youth unemployment, see blatant abuse of low cost EU loans and grants for personal profit, suffer whole factories being moved to low wage eastern nations and are swamped with economic migrants in transit to the north, all seem to be ignored by people who think they somehow have the moral high ground. You don’t.

    There is no way you can win in Stoke, so what you’re doing is to try and put Labour ( who exactly ARE they at the moment? ), in to spite Nuttall. I had no idea you liked Corbyn so much. I too will be heading to Stoke soon, as will be other members of my East of England branch. No doubt the residents of that city will soon be sick to the teeth with us all.

  • Icini,
    But UKIP are on a steady and accelerating electoral down slope.

  • Alun Williams 3rd Feb '17 - 8:56am

    The question for me is this: what is the point of UKIP? They and their fellow travellers in the Tory party have already persuaded the British people to commit an act of almost unbelievable self-harm. They have fone tge job they sey out to do. This act has now been supported by a craven House of Commons. And who, might I ask, will represent the 48% who voted Remain? Not UKIP, not the Tories and now, it seems, not Labour either. The Lib Dems are England’s faithful remnant.

  • Yes, we had problems with the leadership issue and power void that came with it , that’s behind us now and has left a leaner, better party. The media have not yet acknowledged this but it will have sunk in by May. I have no real idea what will happen in Stoke, though I suspect Paul will win.

    As for what we’re about, the answer is democracy, local and national. Little matters like a fair electoral system. Considering that more Brits voted for Brexit than for anything else, ever, you have a nerve to suggest that it was not a clear win and should accept it. Your opinion on the EU is wrong, it’s damaged us for many years and still does so, all the more since the “remnant” refuse to get behind a new reality that is upon us whatever they attempt to do. In terms of influence and forming a government any party that simply won’t observe the will of the people is doomed to oblivion.

  • nvelope2003 3rd Feb '17 - 9:16am

    John Bicknell:
    UKIP did come second in the 2015 General Election displacing the Liberal Democrats and Stoke on Trent is not Rotherham. Channel 4 news have queried the legality of the UKIP candidate’s nomination papers so even if he won he could be disqualified.

  • Nomination address. What load of rubbish. People move before, during and after elections all the time. I have county candidates in that position right now, which to use ?
    Don’t know, who can tell when completion of purchase will be ? Paul is the registered tenant of the flat, he will be there during the campaign and no doubt seek somewhere better in Stoke if he wins. People need to talk about policies, not irrelevant technicalities.

  • Mary Griffiths 3rd Feb '17 - 1:18pm

    I am curious that you say you don’t want to be labelled ‘far right’ but your leader Paul Nuttall is anti- immigrant, anti-EU and pro torture. Just a few of the things he believes in are these not ‘far right’? UKIP in my opinion do not advocate for a fair open liberal society. I believe it to be a rascist organisation surely that is how you won the election with despicable posters deluding people about Turkey and yet more vast sums of people coming into this country. I hope for the long term future of this country UKIP and all it stands for will fade into oblivion.

  • icini: Ask Phil Woolas if it’s an irrelevant technicality 🙂

  • nvelope2003 3rd Feb '17 - 2:42pm

    Icini: If the law states that a candidate must give his actual address at the date of the nomination documents then that is what he must do. I am sorry that you consider the law to be an irrelevant technicality but I hope that the people of Stoke Central have been made fully aware of your views.

  • Mark Valladares Mark Valladares 3rd Feb '17 - 2:43pm


    It’s a minor, tedious point of electoral law. Now, I accept that senior UKIP figures have real problems understanding the concept – many more UKIP MEPs have been successfully prosecuted than Americans killed by citizens of the seven countries currently banned by Donald Trump – but the idea that your home address is where your home is seems pretty simple.

    Unless, of course, you’re Paul Nuttall.

    Look, if you don’t believe that laws passed by a British Parliament don’t apply to you and your mates, then fine. But it does beg the question, “What else are you doing that you shouldn’t be?”.

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