Friday 17 February 2017

By-election round-up

So, what's new in the by-election, this morning? A lot of nonsense that's obscuring the real issues, mostly.

* Can the Ukip candidate even vote in the Stoke Central by-election, asks a national newspaper. From this morning's Times newspaper:

"Paul Nuttall, the Ukip leader, was facing questions last night about whether he signed on to the electoral roll in time to vote in the Stoke-on-Trent byelection".

Nuttall has also bizarrely chosen this moment to launch a brave new policy suggestion. That Ukip would remove VAT from fish and chips. Really, as if that's the most important thing on the minds of people in Stoke Central? I love a good bit of fish as much as the next person. But not only is it a futile suggestion, it's also a bit patronising — since it implies that's the most important thing we care about.

* On the other side of the fence, more Labour tweets have emerged. Labour candidate Snell managed to slur both our own Robbie Williams and women in one phrase, by calling Robbie a "publicity whore". There's also a curiously phrased tweet which has newly emerged, describing his girlfriend as "half muslim".

I'm absolutely fine with him having a "half muslim" girlfriend, good for him. But the clumsy phrasing does suggest that he has a surprisingly hazy grasp of the religious strictures involved. Because, so far as I'm aware, one is either muslim or one is not. There are no half-measures. And once one becomes a muslim, then there's no going back on it without becoming an apostate.

* It's also emerged that the sender of the 'vote Labour or go to hell' texts was not just some hapless teen volunteer on Labour's text messaging desk, but the current Chairman of the Hanley Park Residents Association.

* Alerted by some of the evangelical phrases which I heard being used by the Christian Peoples Alliance candidate, I took a look at their notion of Christianity. The casual voter might have assumed they were fairly normal wishy-washy Christians, and that was also my assumption. But it seems they're actually the crackpot 'God is sending storms to punish the gays' type of party.

* Looking at the wider picture, presumably the various campaigning teams and big-names are gearing up today for a massive push in Stoke at the weekend, the last such before the vote. Perhaps we'll finally get down to talking about some real issues that affect the city, and with the city's people rather than with the party apparatchiks who packed the main hustings in the last few days. Or possibly it's time for voters who have already made up their minds to turn off / unplug the phone, un-wire the doorbell, and perhaps even flee Stoke for a nice calming visit to Tristram Hunt's new haunt at the V&A museum in London? Come back, Tristram, all is forgiven.

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