Targeting 365 Votes

Amber Rudd’s majority over Labour candidate Peter Chowney at the 2017 general election was just 346. The three other candidates, Nick Perry of the Liberal Democrats, Michael Sheridan of UKIP and independent Nicholas Wilson all lost their deposits.

The Lib Dems as unrepentant Remainers and UKIP as belligerent No Dealers had clearly differentiated programmes from both main parties in that election. Mr Wilson, however, was a paid-up member of the Labour party. He said he had joined it “to vote for Jeremy Corbyn” but was standing separately on an “anti-corruption” ticket. As he polled 412 votes, and Cllr Chowney lost by a lesser margin, it is hardly surprising that Labour held him substantially responsible for their shortfall.

Could history repeat itself two years on? For here comes another independent candidate, Paul Crosland, on the 2019 ballot – not, as far as is known, a recalcitrant Labour member, but one who is espousing radical causes that seem likely to attract more fringe Labour voters than Conservatives. 

In his pre-election pitch laid out in a letter to the Hastings Observer published on 25th October Mr Crosland explained that he is “standing for Generosity because I want to advance ‘Community Development ‘ work co-creating ‘Sharing and Care4Caring’ communities in St Leonards”. The major themes of his campaign would be pausing 5G; adopting a neighbour 20 years more senior with different political/spiritual beliefs to address the care crisis and lack of community cohesion; and planning for a low carbon economy with an improved quality of life.

“Political parties are, of course, trying to gain political power in 2019-24; I am not”, he wrote. “I am engaging in this election to raise the awareness of what we can all do to build more sharing and caring communities around us. Just 365 is the target number of votes I have set in order to have a credible basis on which to recruit a team of Community Development workers and found the ‘Sharing and Care4Caring political party seeking ten times the votes in five years time, i.e. 3,650”.

More recently he tweeted: “I don’t want to be your MP but I do want you to ‘Put a cross for Crosland’”.

Who’s to say that he won’t meet his modest initial target, or that the votes he garners – however few – may not affect the outcome? Liz Bygraves, for one, from the Facebook group Stop 5G Hastings has spotted an opportunity: “There must be about 350 local people on the 5G Facebook group and newsletter list combined,” she posted. “The Tory majority last time was only around 300. As many of us as possible must write to Peter Chowney stressing that we will vote for Paul unless he takes a stand on opposing the 5G rollout”.

“Now that’s a threat I respect!” came Mr Crosland’s reply.

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