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Inside Wakefield’s corrupt election The city is still reeling from its paedophile MP

Simon Lightwood will win (Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)


June 16, 2022   7 mins

“I have been a foster carer for over 14 years and have never sexually assaulted anyone. I am happily married to Janet.” Paul Bickerdike secured 102 votes when he stood for the Christian People’s Alliance in last July’s by-election in Batley and Spen. Almost a year later, he is pinning his hopes on winning Wakefield, where, as the first line of his campaign leaflet makes clear, he does have one thing going for him: unlike the city’s last member of parliament, he is not a paedophile.

When that MP, Imran Ahmad Khan, was imprisoned last month for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy, over a century had passed since wardens at HMP Wakefield coined the term “nonce”. Ahmad Khan defied political history by winning the seat in 2019; three years later, history took its revenge.

Wakefield had been Labour’s since 1932. In Mary Creagh, it had a reliable Labour MP whose popularity had shown no sign of waning since she was elected in 2005. But then two-thirds of Wakefield voted for Brexit, Creagh said she would be a Remainer until she dies, and the Tories spotted an open goal. Wakefield was theirs for the taking. It didn’t matter who was on the ballot. It didn’t matter that nobody in Wakefield knew who Ahmad Khan was. It didn’t even matter that, just days before the vote, party officials were warned that their man was a nonce.

“I’m ashamed that someone from Wakey was done for doing something like that,” Sharon Horncastle, 60, tells me. “I had two lads from Labour come knocking on my door to ask if I’d vote for their man. I just told them: ‘It depends if he’s a paedo or not.’”

Horncastle didn’t vote in 2019, because “they’re all shit”. But this time round, she feels she doesn’t have a choice. “I have to vote Labour. The Conservative here got done for being a paedophile. How could I vote for them?” Is that the only reason you’ll vote Labour? “There’s Boris’s lockdown parties, too. While he was doing that, my mum died of Covid. There’s five of us children but only one person could go and see her on her deathbed. But of course Keir Starmer was at it too. They’re just as bad as each other.”

But will voting Labour make her life better? “No,” she says immediately. “I work at Morrisons. I can see how everyone is now struggling. People can’t afford their shopping. We need an MP who’s going to make a difference. But what choice do I have?”

In Wakefield city centre, the extent of that choice swiftly becomes clear. It is Market Day, and the political offering is meagre. Neither Labour nor the Conservatives can be bothered to campaign. They leave that to the lesser parties.

A gaggle of supporters from Reform UK, the Brexit Party’s disappointing second album, squawk about cutting taxes. Campaigners from the local Freedom Alliance party silently hand out leaflets, then watch them be discarded in the bin a few metres away. Over the road, a collection of photographers stare expectantly at the cathedral looming over the square. I ask which political Big Beast is about to emerge: Angela Rayner? David Davis? Liz Truss? “Oh no,” I’m told. “We’re not here for that. There’s a peregrine falcon nesting in the spire.”

A megaphone attached to a crawling black cab interrupts our conversation. Ukip have arrived. “Are you tired of Westminster?” its candidate booms from his
 black cab. An hour later, the car returns to the city centre, this time blasting out Dusty Springfield. By lunchtime, the party has moved on to Adele. I spot the car again later parked outside Wetherspoon’s: one of its passengers is arguing with a Stand Up To Racism campaigner over who is more fascist.

The by-election circus is yet to arrive in Wakefield’s suburbs. “I’ve got my postal vote, but we’ve had no canvassers knocking on our door,” Deanne tells me on the city’s Peacock Estate, where a third of households live in fuel poverty. “We’ve had no leaflets either.” Deanne, an NHS worker, voted for Labour in 2019, but is yet to make her mind up. “The Labour candidate talks about buying his first house in Wakefield, but when the ballot paper came through, it turned out he lives in another constituency.” Is that enough to make her vote Tory? “I don’t think so. There’s all the nastiness with the last MP. And then there’s Boris — how is he still even around? If I’d done something like that, I’d be out the door.”

Anthea Ambleton, who lives around the corner from HMP Wakefield, doesn’t need a leaflet or canvasser to sway her vote. “The Partygate scandal is bad enough,” she tells me. “But I used to work in child protection, so I was absolutely furious with their last MP. I don’t know why the Tories let that git stand last time when there were all those rumours circulating about him.”

Yet the reason is depressingly straightforward: three weeks before Imran Ahmad Khan was elected, another “git” was lined up to be Wakefield’s next Tory MP. However, Antony Calvert’s campaign came crashing down at the last minute. Not because he was caught sneering at a working-class constituent for going to Costa. It was tweets that did for him — a cocktail of misogynistic remarks about Mary Creagh and racist jibes about Bradford.

And so the Conservatives parachuted in Amhad Khan from his mansion in the Lake District, along with an election agent who had once been hired by an American prison to teach staff how to execute people by hanging. It didn’t matter that Ahmad Khan was rumoured to have already applied to stand in Wakefield and not been selected for interview. The Tories could afford to be complacent: Labour still had Corbyn and Brexit was still infused with hope. Even a nonce and a hangman could get the job done.

Three years later, even with Partygate, even with Ahmad Khan in jail, a whiff of that complacency lingers. It doesn’t matter whether you live in Wakefield (a paedophile) or Tiverton (penchant for tractor porn): the selection of unsuitable candidates has always been a symptom, not a product, of the Conservative Party’s nihilistic lack of direction. In Wakefield, it now takes the form of Nadeem Ahmed.

Ahmed is an improvement on his predecessors, though the bar is low. He is a local candidate (unlike Khan), and he is capable of restraining himself on Twitter (unlike Calvert). But politically, he is a failure: despite serving as the Conservative group leader of Wakefield Council since 2014, he was forced to quit last July after losing a vote of no confidence at a party meeting. Ahmed’s colleagues deemed him too incompetent to represent them on the council. Yet here he is: hoping to represent 70,000 people in Westminster.

Ahmed bristles when I ask why he thinks a failed council leader deserves to be Wakefield’s next MP. He deflects; he pretends he can’t hear me; he makes excuses. “I didn’t want to be group leader anymore”; “I always wanted to pass on the leadership”; “I wasn’t feeling well at the time”; “the story was spun by the Wakefield Express and Labour”.

So I ask directly: did he lose a vote of no confidence last July? There is silence. Is he going to lie? He is. “No,” he says. “There was no vote of confidence.” I tell him that I’ve spoken to a Tory councillor in the room at the time who watched him lose, but still he denies it. Perhaps he knows that it’s too late, that Boris Johnson has already “priced in” the fall of Wakefield, and that he has nothing to lose. Or perhaps he thinks it simply doesn’t matter. After all, at least he’s not a nonce.

The Labour candidate who will win Wakefield is Simon Lightwood, though it should have been someone else. During his campaign to become Labour leader, Keir Starmer called for the party’s selection process to be “more democratic”. Labour “should end NEC impositions of candidates”, he said, and “local party members should select their candidates”. But two years is a long time in Labour politics, and Starmer’s call for more democracy has given way to iron-clad bureaucracy.

When the by-election was announced, roughly 25 Labour candidates put their names forward. Only three lived in the constituency, including a popular local councillor who had already been through the party’s Future Candidate programme. “He didn’t even make it on to the shortlist of four,” a member of the local party told me. “Normally, the candidate is decided by a panel of five people — three from the local party, one from the NEC and one from the unions. But this time, Labour HQ put a stop to this.” There was only one local representative and three from the NEC, who effectively block-voted to whittle it down to two alternatives. “Neither of them were from the constituency and both were anti-Brexit. Lightwood doesn’t even live in the constituency. This is the fifth place he’s tried to be nominated.”

Pushed aside by the party machine, the 16 members of the Wakefield constituency Labour party resigned. “After Corbyn, it’s control gone mad,” one of them told me. “We are having nothing to do with it. The local constituency party, many of them Labour councillors, are refusing to campaign. Look at Lightwood’s campaign photos and you’ll hardly see any locals in them. He’s having to ship in canvassers from London and MPs to knock on doors.” Will any of this affect the result? “Labour will win but it won’t be meaningful: if you can’t defeat a party whose last candidate is a convicted paedophile, then you’re really shit.”

Lightwood will win — though it seems unlikely he will match the 23,000 votes secured by Creagh in 2017, or the 21,000 by Ahmad Khan in 2019. That would require there to be enough people willing to vote for him, rather than simply against Johnson and Ahmad Khan. “I’ve seen them come and go,” Susan Albrighton, 70, tells me. “And nothing gets better. Even with Brexit, which I voted for, nothing has really changed. The leaders are all as bad as each other.” It’s hard to find anyone who has a good word to say about Starmer: “He’s just like the rest of them”; “he doesn’t stand for anything”; “he’s better than Corbyn, but that’s not saying much”.

This by-election, then, is a tale of political failure: of the Conservatives winning a Labour stronghold for the first time in 87 years and then handing it over to a paedophile; and of Labour losing Wakefield — once home to the man who introduced communism to Britain — in the first place, and then winning it back without needing to make amends. This isn’t a battle of politics, or of great ideas. It’s a procedural game, where the least-worst candidate wins and the voters always lose.

In 1967, Wakefield’s Mayor boasted of living in an “industrial city with much of the air of a country town”. Fifty-five years later, Wakefield’s industry has disappeared. It is now just a small city like any other in Britain: home to a boarded-up high street, a glistening centre on its periphery, a bus system that doesn’t work, and a population concerned they won’t be able to put food on the table. As Rob Morris, 61, told me: “I don’t care who wins. I’m past caring now. I can’t afford to.”

This is the consequence of systemic negligence: a city in stasis; its residents resigned to the fact that nothing will get better. Both parties had an opportunity to give Wakefield a voice — and squandered it. Labour handed the city to a disdainful Remainer; the Tories chose a paedophile. It’s hardly surprising that Wakefield is past caring now. Labour will win. Nothing will change. At least he’s not a nonce.


Jacob Furedi is Deputy Editor of UnHerd.

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Richard Craven
Richard Craven
2 years ago

Labour has presided over several decades of the industrial scale systemically racist sexual abuse of tens of thousands of white girls in Northern towns and cities like Wakefield. Labour has actively sought to prevent the policing of Pakistani paedophile grooming gangs, on the laughably spurious grounds that they didn’t want to upset race relations. Labour is the nonce’s party.

Last edited 2 years ago by Richard Craven
Jane Hewland
Jane Hewland
2 years ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

Nonces everywhere. The point is there’s no longer any party of principle

Sid Cordle
Sid Cordle
2 years ago
Reply to  Jane Hewland

That’s why CPA exists

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 years ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

That’s the thought that struck me when I read the quote “I have to vote Labour. The Conservative here got done for being a paedophile”
Didn’t really think it through, did she?

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 years ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

I can just imagine if there was even one solitary grooming gang of white men specifically targeting underage muslim girls for decades with impunity, with open support from their local community and with the police and social services looking the other way…even if the number of victims were just 1% of the number that suffered in Rochdale, Rotherham, etc…

I suspect your type wouldn’t be asking about data or questioning whether it was racism.

James Kenny
James Kenny
2 years ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

This is how labour win all their local elections ie. corruption of the voting system.
This is a countrywide military style fraud operation. Targeting the elderly and disabled and together with the obvious labour families and their families, postal votes for those in care or deceased, a majority is achieved without any need for middle ground voters.
A sinister movement funded by
.

We all have a very good idea

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago
Reply to  James Kenny

You are saying that Labour only win because of electoral fraud?! A big claim, for which you need to provide evidence….

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

Ann Cryer was a Labour MP, and did more than anyone to uncover this scandal. Yes there was a culture, social services ideology had an effect, but what the hell were the POLICE doing? They are, or at least were, not a pro Labour political organisation. Girls weren’t believed, or they said they had ‘boyfriends’ and conveniently no one investigated further.

Some of the ‘anti-woke’ concern for these girls is suspiciously transactional in my view. There always was SUCH concern about working class girls before! The girls who were routinely called tarts and sluts etc.

John Dewhirst
John Dewhirst
2 years ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

An article that completely misses the common denominator determining the party politics and allegiances of West Yorkshire’s urban constituencies.

Drach Man
Drach Man
2 years ago

I find myself staring out of the window most mornings wondering whether to open the BBC website for another dose of depressing propaganda. Invariably I do, and my choices are simple: the planet is boiling away, I am a white fascist, or I should call my daughter ‘son’…..all leavened by tabloid articles involving some form of personal struggle to overcome oppression. Politics as I understood it even 5 years ago has disappeared entirely. Now, it’s a race to colonise the most nonsensical position possible on any issue.
In this age of post empiricism and post truth, is it surprising that the scum floats to the surface?

Brian Rimmer
Brian Rimmer
2 years ago
Reply to  Drach Man

Thank you Drach Man. As an 82 year old man you have described my life to a tee. I am mortally fed up with idiots telling me how to live my life and blaming me for all the ills of man.That definitely includes Dimbleby. “Scum floats to the surface” Perfect.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
2 years ago
Reply to  Drach Man

hear hear… and the great majority of the UK have the same views.. but no political party that has the moral backbone and guts to attract this election winning majority, not least because of a left woke controlled media

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago

Do the ‘great majority of the UK people have the same views’? A pretty absurd position on the face of it. The people who vote SNP in Scotland for example? Remain and Leave? Or is it perhaps that you only talk to and socialise with people who share yours! I don’t – and often find myself a minority of one.

I do have strong views on a number of issues, am often in sympathy with the UnHerd overal philosophical generally ‘anti-woke’ position (noting that it offers a platform to a wide range of voices – good, that is the intention). However I don’t kid myself that everyone else, except perhaps a few dark conspiratorial forces, agrees with me!

Does the ‘left woke media’ include the Daily Mail, the Express and the Telegraph?

Last edited 2 years ago by Andrew Fisher
Peter Joy
Peter Joy
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Actually, it does include the Telegraph, whose writers – particularly the young brainwashed ones, and particularly in the sports pages – take the most ludicrous pro-BLM and pro-LGBTQPZ++?? positions, to readers’ disgust. And to the extent the Mail is supporting the wretched Johnson & Co, it is ‘left woke’ too.
As for the views of the great majority, I think you’ll find 90%+ reject the proposition that a woman can have testicles, 85% want cross-Channel asylum-chancers stopped (so much for ‘take back control’, Johnson)and; probably 60%+ would support the return of hanging for the foulest of serial killers, such as Levi Bellfield.
The people aren’t daft. High time we had some Swiss-style (i.e. real) democracy in this country.

Maureen Finucane
Maureen Finucane
2 years ago
Reply to  Drach Man

We get one week of warm weather and there are hysterical warnings from the BBC. Now it’s back to normal with cold and drizzle.

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
2 years ago

Until there is a sensible, credible, compassionate, politically moderate leader willing to tell people what all political leaders know but dare not say (perhaps not even to themselves), we will be be trapped in this endless charade of charlatans, liars, incompetents and worse standing for and winning elections.

That is: that in early 2020, some horrendous combination of the Chinese Communist Party, global corporations, and billionaire oddballs successfully conned the UK and other western political, medical, and journalistic establishments into slamming shut their societies and using military-grade propaganda to bully and manipulate innocent, decent people into becoming so fearful, shameful, and guilt-ridden that became unable to think or act rationally or compassionately. And so they did things like not going to be beside their mother while she lay dying in bed, or smothering their kids in surgical masks. By April or May of that year, the top of the political class knew very well they had over-reacted but instead of finding the moral courage to explain to people what had happened to them and what they had got wrong, these cowardly groupthinkers doubled down on the lies. They pinned all their hopes on spending enormous amounts of the public’s money on jabs that the unholy global alliance told them would be their “way out” of the trap into which they had been led, a tempting deus ex machina that would absolve them of their guilt. And we all know what happened then.

Until voters in Wakefield and elsewhere understand that Boris and Starmer were not socialising with their friends and colleagues because they are horrendously bad people who don’t care if everyone dies, we won’t be able to have an honest politics and which people can talk straight to each other. We need a credible voice to explain to these poor people that the politicians were doing it because they knew very well that sharing food and a couple of beers posed no risk to anyone and that doing normal sociable things like that is just a normal, healthy thing for humans to do. Until then we will go on with the doublespeak – and not just on this particular issue but other issues, too, where there is a full on assault on objective reality and basic individual freedoms of conscience, speech, and autonomy. Only those lacking intelligence or integrity will stand for election, because it is only they who can sound authentic whilst lying through their teeth.

If this means that the whole lot of them – the established political parties, the mainstream media outlets, the medical organisations – need to disband and start again so be it. One will be the magic number: as soon as one mainstream political leader or major news outlet breaks ranks and finds the moral courage to fess up and tell the truth the rest will have to follow or face destitution as the dam of lies breaks and they get washed away in the chaotic deluge that will surely follow.

Elizabeth Hart
Elizabeth Hart
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

Andrew, you say: “If this means that the whole lot of them – the established political parties, the mainstream media outlets, the medical organisations – need to disband and start again so be it.”
It really does seem that this is what is needed
 There is such entrenched rot across all of society, which has come to a head with the grossly disproportionate and ill-targeted Covid response.
It’s the same in Australia. The major parties here, the illiberal Liberal Party, and the woke Labor party, have ditched their original values, and been taken over by cuckoos working on behalf of vested interests, not for the people.
As Sharon Horncastle says in the article “We need an MP who’s going to make a difference. But what choice do I have?”
During the recent federal election in Australia it was scary to consider the quality of candidates, and to suspect that those selected to stand have been engineered into place as seat warmers who answer to the demands of puppet masters, rather than serving the people.
As for the mainstream media outlets and medical organisations they also seem to be part of crony capitalism which is exploiting the people.
Why is our society so corrupted? Is there anyone in authority and positions of influence genuinely working to create a beneficial society for all?

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
2 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth Hart

It’s the million dollar question, isn’t it. I think there are really good people in those positions (I think most people, in all walks of life, are fundamentally predisposed to be good if they can), but they just can’t quite find their courage. And that is the problem: the small mal-adjusted minority who know that the majority are decent good people also know that they can exploit that fundamental goodness, and trap and exploit well-meaning people.

I don’t think this could have happened, though, without the collapse in belief in, or at least understanding and knowledge of, Christianity and its intellectual and moral heritage in the West. In particular the value that it ascribes to the individual human consciousness and conscientiousness and to the metaphorical truth. I think the CCP and other power seekers see a moral, intellectual, spiritual, and epistemic vacuum and of course they seek to fill it – what else would we expect such scorpions to do?

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

Lots of people have already stood up on precisely these issues. But your use of the word ‘lies’ doesn’t elucidate anything or help the situation. It is in itself very divisive and damns all too many people and institutions. You forgive Boris et al for breaking their own rules – many people will not – at the same time as utterly condemning others you disagree with. The word ‘Lie’ is overused on this forum – it means deliberate propagation of a falsehood. No, very often there is disagreement about where truth lies – we are not talking about physics here but human societies, which are immensely complex. Don’t underestimate the sincerity of your opponents.

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Agree it is wise and generous not to assume that your opponents are lying. But it is also important to avoid naively failing to challenge that assumption when multiple facts suggests that they are deliberately not telling the truth.

To take one example. On 3 March 2020 Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s Director General gave a speech in which he said “Globally, about 3.4% of reported COVID-19 cases have died. By comparison, seasonal flu generally kills far fewer than 1% of those infected.” This was widely reported in the world’s media and by politicians as Covid 19 being “ten times more deadly than the flu”, claims which as far as I am aware the WHO did nothing to correct it.

Would you agree that one of two things must be true:

a) the WHO’s Director General did not know that the case fatality rate (CFR, the % of cases of people presenting for medical attention who go on to die) that he presented for Covid is not in any way comparable to the infection fatality rate (IFR, the % of people who contract the virus, not all of whom seek medical attention, who go on to die) that he presented for flu. The CFR of any disease is almost always very much greater than the IFR because the numerator is the same but the denominator of the latter is much bigger than that of the former. If Tedros didn’t know this he is grossly incompetent. Or,

b) that he deliberately misrepresented the two as being directly comparable (and remember he did directly compare and not just juxtapose them, he said “in comparison”) which would be a deliberate misrepresentation of the truth, that is a lie.

Now consider whether the people briefing our PM either a) understood that the DG of the WHO was either incompetent or was lying, or b) did not understand this or failed to bring this hugely pertinent fact to the PM’s attention. I believe that (a) is far more likely than (b): they are intelligent, competent people. That means that the PM would have known from early on that something was very fishy but he chose to push the official narrative of Covid being an order of magnitude more dangerous than a seasonal flu bug on the basis of what they knew to be the WHO’s lies or competence. That is that he – and others party to this knowledge – lied.

Or do you have a better explanation?

Arnold Grutt
Arnold Grutt
2 years ago

The moral of this story would seem to be that there is no point in expecting Government to change your life. You have to do it yourself. This was for a long period the general understanding of politics, prior to the triumph of the Marxist view that all politics is the working out of ‘class’ conflicts, which divides the political world into two mythical corporate actors (‘us’ and ‘them’) which has now become the universal template for any political discussion (Twitter passim).
It was ‘liberal’ thinking that changed the role of Government from custodians of a legal regime (making, revising and deleting laws) into a proactive organisation which was supposed to ‘manage’ the whole of society (top to bottom) and moreover to be a ‘moral exemplar’, but also to be active in trying to ‘improve’ people’s lives. The trouble with this view of Government is that it is prone to capture by ‘special interests’ and lobbyists (CBI, Unions, rich donors and so on). Which is exactly where we are today. Government is seen basically as a grand Charity which distributes largesse for selected projects (designed to buy off certain troublesome minorities on a rolling basis).

Last edited 2 years ago by Arnold Grutt
Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
2 years ago
Reply to  Arnold Grutt

Oh, government can and does change your life. Just never for the better.

Rachel Taylor
Rachel Taylor
2 years ago
Reply to  Arnold Grutt

An excellent summary of modern politics

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago
Reply to  Arnold Grutt

Yes, pretty much what Jordan Peterson advocates. Live the virtuous life yourself..

R Wright
R Wright
2 years ago

This essay sums up the failure of British democracy perfectly. Our political class is an abject failure and needs replacing, root and stem.

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
2 years ago
Reply to  R Wright

I think we can all agree on that. What’s your plan, though? Too many of us say this sort of thing and then sit back. Do you personally have an action plan? Does anybody on UnHerd? What are we all *doing* about this grim state of affairs?

Virginia Teach
Virginia Teach
2 years ago

Sitting back is in fact the first thing everyone should do. Stop voting for these dead parties that stand for nothing. A tactical vote for the least-worst is a vote against your own interests.

Arnold Grutt
Arnold Grutt
2 years ago
Reply to  Virginia Teach

Prior to the EU referendum voter partcipation in elections was declining sharply. I haven’t voted in any election since the early 1980s. To me the choice between 3 ‘liberal’ parties is no choice at all.

Last edited 2 years ago by Arnold Grutt
tom Edwards
tom Edwards
2 years ago
Reply to  Virginia Teach

You are right Virginia. Most people are disillusioned but still vote for the least worst candidate. If all those people (who may constitute a majority) spoiled their ballot papers instead (which would surely reflect how they feel with more accuracy) perhaps we would have the beginnings of a change, although it’s hard to be optimistic. I wish I was clever enough to come up with a more positive alternative. I live in Wakefield and will spoil my ballot paper as usual on the day.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago
Reply to  Virginia Teach

It isn’t just the political parties though, is it? In your world, we would not have got Brexit? The Left and institutions you oppose will certainly not ‘sit back’. That is why they have been so successful – you almost have to admire them. Simply whingeing – which I engage in too much myself – is ultimately utterly futile.. Jordan Peterson is rather good – and challenging – on this tendency.

Jeremy Cooke
Jeremy Cooke
2 years ago

Compulsory voting with an option for “None of the above” on the ballot paper. The winner has to beat that, or the election is re-run with new candidates.

Last edited 2 years ago by Jeremy Cooke
MJ Reid
MJ Reid
2 years ago

Even those with great ideas have given up. Voters apathy and parties that are only interested in the gravy train stop discussion and debate. In 2010, I attended a series of lectures by people keen to reform the system and processes in the UK. They were all well attended and many of us met after to carry on the discussion. We went to the Electoral Commission with a proposal for change and were basically told that if we wanted change we would have to persuade the government to change the law. Onto buttons there!

Christian Moon
Christian Moon
2 years ago
Reply to  R Wright

Gotta clear them out. Clear them out.

Roger Irwin
Roger Irwin
2 years ago

Two important comments:
“he’s better than Corbyn, but that’s not saying much”.
“There’s Boris’s lockdown parties, too.”
Corbyn the anti-seminite. Boris the party man.
Both ‘scandals’ that were worked up by the press to the point where people’s perceptions go way beyond the hard facts. And yet these scandals are influencing political decisions.
Nor does it stop there. It’s easy to ask half a dozen questions about each leader, and find that most people give incorrect answers. We are being misled.
The fourth estate is destroying democracy.

Phil Wieneke
Phil Wieneke
2 years ago
Reply to  Roger Irwin

I agree in principle with your point, and certainly the last statement. However, as far as “partygate” is concerned, the hard facts are that the police issued fines for multiple events that clearly they found could be construed as parties, taking place within a government building that was at the time issuing ridiculous and draconian edicts. These rules caused immeasurable damage to families and businesses, so I am glad that at least some of the electorate plan to punish the government for that level of contempt.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
2 years ago
Reply to  Phil Wieneke

Less than 2% of the penalty notices issued to Downing Street staff were to politicians. The rest went to civil servants, all of whom should have known better, some of whom were very senior.
The PM is not the No 10 office manager: the miscreants must be held accountable for their own actions. The most shocking thing is not the alcohol, it’s the lack of seriousness with which these people were taking the task of guiding the country through a crisis.

Diane Tasker
Diane Tasker
2 years ago

You can state these facts until you’re blue in the face but it’s simply an inconvenient truth to the political tribes and activists thronging the civil service ranks.These ‘employees of the state’ are not interested in ‘service’ or capable of producing stuff that works. They are good at leaking, tweeting and partying and generally muddying the water they hide in. They thrive off the chaos they create in pursuance of their own personal, political agenda. I would lay a bet that if you asked Joe Public their opinion of the Whitehall tribe the answer wouldn’t be complimentary!

David Fawcett
David Fawcett
2 years ago

Damn right, Dougie. Boris was roped in and stitched up by the civil servants in Downing Street, to enact a coup by a thousand cuts. After which, they would install a Remainer/Returner puppet and roll back Brexit. This is being masterminded by Lord Adonis, who in a more robust age would have been arrested and thrown into the Tower.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago
Reply to  David Fawcett

Truly unhinged! It couldn’t be that the government IS actually led by a lying – ok let us say self deceiving – amoral charlatan capable of believing in two totally contradictory notions at the same time (low taxes and high expenditure, the NI Protocol is fantastic then appalling, among much else).

How on Earth in Andrew Adonis masterminding this?

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago

Oh come on! The hated civil servants are to be solely blamed, but the politicians who drove through these Draconian laws are not?! In fact the civil servants are likely to be truly punished more than the politicians because they are employees and subject to those sanctions as well as the fines.

The ‘Boris isn’t an office manager’ must be the most threadbare argument of all. He certainly isn’t, but then nor is he a leader, not sets an example, nor accepts any responsibility for anything. We all know that by now, don’t we? The fact that some people you disagree with politically may be saying these things doesn’t make them untrue. And it is not only the opposition, and this issue HAS cut through with the electorate.

Last edited 2 years ago by Andrew Fisher
Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
2 years ago
Reply to  Phil Wieneke

But what’s more contemptuous: not complying with your own absurd, destructive, unnecessary, ridiculous edicts (zero actual negative impact on anyone, besides the psychological impact on those who dutifully and credulously followed your stupid rules); or putting those vile edicts in place in the first place (massive negative impact on many people, some of whom are sadly no longer with us)? As with so many things, there’s an inversion: we seem collectively to care intensely about things that don’t really matter but hardly at all about the things do.

Roger Irwin
Roger Irwin
2 years ago
Reply to  Phil Wieneke

So of all the events in the Gray report, which one do you think could be construed as a party, and what did it have to do with the government?

Rachel Taylor
Rachel Taylor
2 years ago
Reply to  Roger Irwin

Deaf ears, unfortunately. People seem to have an analytical bypass when reading or hearing news they want to believe.

Rachel Taylor
Rachel Taylor
2 years ago
Reply to  Phil Wieneke

This is simply untrue. There is no evidence, nor any reason, that the police construed anything as a party. That is a journalistic fabrication. They found (we assume) that the rule of two “except for work” had been broken. As many people have found, you could break this by chatting with a neighbour over a garden fence.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago
Reply to  Roger Irwin

Hear hear

jules Ritchie
jules Ritchie
2 years ago
Reply to  Roger Irwin

Yes, the media did a wind-up on the Boris parties but when a relly dies alone in hospital, while the pollies play on, you can understand why that elector sees the world thus.

Last edited 2 years ago by jules Ritchie
Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago

Interesting that Corbyn’s efforts to install his own people at local level, regularly made national news, but this is the first time I’ve heard of Comrade Starmer’s iron fist.

Frankly, the visible antics of the ruling class are quite depressing enough. This glimpse into the internal machinery induces a sense despair.

J Morgan
J Morgan
2 years ago

What a mess.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
2 years ago

This well sums up why ordinary people are fed up with the political process that presents unattractive politely apparatchiks as candidates. Not always small choice among rotten apples but certainly little in the way of inspiring and worthwhile choice and as more normal people withdraw from party political engagement the choices get more political and worse.

David Redfern
David Redfern
2 years ago

It’s no wonder politics is considered the home of self interested connivance.
Local candidate selection must change – for the better. Accountability to the local community must be placed at the top of the agenda and ‘big party’ central office influence outlawed.
The public must be trusted to make their own choices with disclosure from candidates a legal requirement. If the public want to elect a nonce that’s their choice.
Grassroots politics must be the starting point for political reform. Without trust in local MP’s to represent their communities rather than fearing the backlash from central office, trust in politics simply doesn’t exist.
Local politics is a beauty pageant. The pig with the most lipstick is invariably the winner despite having no real interest in the community or little life experience. Safe seats used as a springboard for ambitious young PPE candidates to leap up the slippery pole. The standard by which they are measured being that they didn’t fail, not that they succeeded.
We can’t do anything directly about the fortresses that are the central offices of the political elite so we must demand control of our local circumstances.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
2 years ago
Reply to  David Redfern

Yes, candidate selection must improve but we get the politicians we deserve. Until voters are prepared to put some effort into doing their own research into the character, integrity, skill set and political beliefs of the candidates, nothing will change.

Mark Chadwick
Mark Chadwick
2 years ago

There’s next to no difference between the two main parties. Major, Cameron, Blair, Starmer, Hancock, Tugendhat, Hague, Osborne and Feldman could all join the same club. Their mutual concept of the UK, freedom, ethics, capitalism, Big Government, patriotism, immigration, education, etc would make Margaret Thatcher vomit.
There’s no need for a Labour Party, and it’s certainly not an opposition.
Boris doesn’t really have much other than a hint of Green Lunacy. He just plays at being Boris.

Brian Delamere
Brian Delamere
2 years ago

Yet no mention at all of the highly visible Britain First campaign there in Wakefield. Even more surprising is that there is absolutely nothing said about the horrendous injustices suffered by the Britain First leader, Paul Golding, pounced on by the Police on a sham charge, placed in a cell for 12 hours, the campaign bus and materials impounded, his phone taken and bank account frozen. Worse there has been an injunction to stop him entering into the town of Wakefield. There is evidence to show the accusations have no merit, and no charges have been made. Whether you agree with his politics or not, it is not acceptable for the leader of a legitimate political party be prevented in campaigning in the town where he has an official parliamentary candidate. The whole sorry episode is scandalous, a disgrace and a frightening indication of what this country, has become.

MJ Reid
MJ Reid
2 years ago

The lack of canvassing is now evident in every election. So much of it is done online because it is easier. The electorate want to be able to ask questions face to face and look candidates in the eye. And easier to ignore those voters who might have awkward questions that they don’t want to answer.
If candidates don’t live in the constituency what do they know of the issues? Don’t know the people and have nothing but their desire to be a politician to drive them on.
Our democracy is farcical and getting worse with every election. The party that overhauls the system is the one that should be in government.

Robert Pound
Robert Pound
2 years ago

Paedophilia is sexual attraction towards prepubescents. There is no evidence whatsoever that the Tory concerned is a paedophile.
The age of consent varies between jurisdictions – in some countries 14, some 15, some 16, some 18. In the UK it is 16. The MP concerned broke the law and was quite rightly convicted, and rightly resigned from Parliament.
Now, even where the age of consent law is not breached, this does not make it morally right for a much older male to put pressure on or exploit a young person.
However, it is nevertheless false to assert that the person concerned is a paedophile.

Rachel Taylor
Rachel Taylor
2 years ago
Reply to  Robert Pound

Unfortunately, lying (or “inaccurate reporting of events with the intent to deceive the reader into believing something that is not true”) is the stock in trade of journalism nowadays.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
2 years ago
Reply to  Robert Pound

A nice bit of hair-splitting there, Rob. Let us not sully the reputation of poor Imran Ahmad Khan by falsely asserting that he is a paedophile, when, the evidence suggests, he is actually a hebephile. That he sexually assaulted a pubescent boy, as opposed to a prepubescent child, may be of interest to you – and even clinically relevant – but to normal people he will remain just another “paedo”. But carry on. You are doing important work.

Andrew D
Andrew D
2 years ago
Reply to  Robert Pound

Yes, it looks like he’s an ephebophile. Still illegal, but not the same.

George Knight
George Knight
2 years ago

To be a politician it seems to me that you must be either bad or mad or possibly both. Who wants to be hounded by the press and others for a not very significant reward. Until those two elements improve I suspect that becoming an MP will remain low down on most able peoples wish list.

Peter Mott
Peter Mott
2 years ago

Nadeem Ahmed telling lies about some local government imbroglio? How stupid of him – at a time when politicians lying has such high salience. Still I will vote for him – I am a automatic Tory these days.

Brian Delamere
Brian Delamere
2 years ago

Of all the campaigns in Wakefield the one party most in you face was Britain First, yet it never even got a mention. Despite being a very new political party, and the dirty tricks by the police (where the police were taken to court twice, and lost twice), Britain First is sure to have made an impression as a viable alternative to the old school, self-serving, establishment nonces that infest the main stream parties.

Ian S
Ian S
2 years ago

What is shows is Wakefield, in the great scheme of things, is not a town any politician knows how to improve. It’s not important enough to get candidates anyone wants.