When nominations closed last week, voters in Truro and Falmouth were annoyed and irritated to find that had even more candidates to choose from and complicate things on May 7th. Someone called Stanley Guffogg is standing, on behalf of a hitherto unknown outfit with the catchy name of ‘the Principles of Politics Party’. Like a lot of other people, my first reaction was ‘made-up name’ and ‘novelty candidate’, a Loony Party lookalike.
Alternatively this was one of those parties, essentially one-man bands, that emerge like butterflies out of their chrysalis at election time, only to suffer a quick death as they wither and perish after collecting their hundred or so votes and paying over their £500 deposit. Recent British electoral history is littered with the corpses of such short-lived micro-parties, slain by the first past the post fiend that guards the status quo and devours small parties by the score.
I was wrong. The Principles of Politics Party (PoP) may indeed fail to survive an electoral cycle but Truro has another genuine candidate, part of a small group which prefers to see itself as a ‘political collaboration’ rather than a party, despite its name. Stan Guffogg is a musician, python breeder and philosopher, although not necessarily in that order. He’s also an Oxford chap, having read PPE at The Queen’s College in the 1980s and then taught philosophy and economics at Truro College in the 2000s. His party has a decent and informative website (although one prone to crash on my computer.) PoP may well prove to be a transient phenomenon, briefly illuminating the tawdry landscape of electoral politics before its inevitable demise, but it has a message well worth listening to.
It’s driven by opposition to the neo-liberal consensus, which is ‘misleading and damaging’ and just plain wrong, having led to ‘debt-fetishism’. Instead, austerity has to be junked, the power of global corporations curbed and public services run as public services rather than businesses. Taxes ought to be progressive and mindless economic growth questioned, while drastic action is required to avoid ecological disaster
Which all looks like perfect common sense.
The only problem Principles of Politics might have, given that most Britons are clueless about most things, is that it seems to be run by philosophers and intellectuals. Meeting in Ponsanooth to chew over Plato’s concept of justice or Wittgenstein’s disputes with Popper over existentialism and logic is all very well, but how does it square with plodding the streets delivering leaflets? As Marx said, ‘philosophers have only interpreted the world … the point, however, is to change it’.
Instead, PoP admits that people may not ‘vote for the PoP party (so) at least give your vote to the only other party offering a real alternative to austerity – the Green Party’. Even Wittgenstein could see that this is spectacularly mistaken. The Green candidate is not the only anti-austerity candidate in Truro and Falmouth. There are already two other anti-austerity candidates in the field in this constituency – MK’s Stephen Richardson and Rik Evans of the National Health Action Party.
Stan Guffogg now makes this four anti-austerity candidates. So the important question that should have been pondered at Ponsanooth Philosophy HQ is why Truro & Falmouth? Why not the other Cornish constituencies where anti-austerity candidates are less commonplace? In fact, why not an English constituency where they’re often in even shorter supply?