What an entertaining show on Croydon Radio yesterday with the candidates running in the Croydon North byelection. You can listen again to the election special here.
I cannot imagine more contrasting styles than UK Independence Party candidate Winston McKenzie and Marisha Ray (pictured) from the Liberal Democrats who went head-to-head on the programme. Winston indulged in much ranting without saying a great deal apart from telling local residents how powerless they were to change anything.
Winston has a great track record of working with youths in the local community and is a genuinely nice guy with his heart in the right place, but sadly on the radio he came across as an aspiring eccentric, sounding like a cross between Mohammad Ali and Ronnie Barker’s Albert Arkwright from Open All Hours.
On two occasions, following a loud and meandering diatribe, the presenter Bieneosa Ebite chipped in: “Thank you Winston!”
And after a long exhortation on ‘communication’ by McKenzie, Ray calmly responded: “Two thirds of communication is listening and one third is talking.”
Ray was unruffled and carefully pitched to local residents concerned with issues such as flytipping and lack of policing, and talked about opposing cuts to the local library.
As McKenzie lives locally he really could do worse than swot up on some local issues instead of just crowing about projects like the Croydon Youth Games that he has personally been involved in establishing.
Earlier in the programme Lee Jasper, who is running for the Respect Party, attacked the “cosy austerity consensus not acceptable to the people of Croydon North.”
Jasper was also asked about his new Soundcloud advert, which was described by the Liberal Conspiracy blog as “sultry.” Sunny Hundal wrote:
This is brilliant. George Galloway MP has recorded an endorsement for Lee Jasper on audio. It sounds like a late-night sultry call for… something.
Interestingly Jasper revealed that he and Galloway will feature in a dance video as well, and that he was currently teaching Galloway the two-step.
On one level it appears they may not being taking themselves too seriously but it will inevitably keep people talking about them and open the way for more serious conversations about politics.
Either way Jasper is running an interesting and highly unorthodox campaign. We will have to see how this translates to votes on 29th November.
The programme ended with a head-to-head between Labour’s Steve Reed and Andy Stranack from the Conservatives. Reed came across as a consummate Westminster politician and easily outmanoeuvred a likeable but naive Stranack.