Vote Guffogg? You could do a lot worse

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.

Stanley Guffogg - PoP's candidate
Stanley Guffogg – PoP’s candidate

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?


One thought on “Vote Guffogg? You could do a lot worse

  1. As a founder member of the PoP Party, but commenting here on my own behalf, I thank you for this piece on us and our candidate.

    Why Truro and Falmouth? Because it’s our home turf.. Although our initial members are spread around the county and beyond, we all have links with the area. We are a fledgling party and had to start somewhere, although I can assure you that we have no intention of withering after the election. Quite the opposite, in fact. Expect to see us standing in a number of constituencies next time.

    If our choice of constituency means that there are four anti-austerity candidates for voters to choose from, that is surely just redressing the balance since there are at least four pro-austerity candidates standing. Our endorsement of the Green Party as an alternative to PoP was made before the list of candidates was known. We are not interested in political point scoring and are happy to collaborate with other parties whose views overlap with our own in key areas.

    What makes us unique is the extent to which our economic, political, and indeed moral, stance is given an explicit theoretical underpinning. If we are, as you suggest, a bunch of philosophers and intellectuals (although this particular intellectual had to look up ‘psephology’) we are trying not only to interpret the world but also in our modest way to change it. The two are not mutually exclusive and to change what you don’t understand is surely dangerous. If we could afford any leaflets, we’d happily plod the streets delivering them!

    I am not a fan of Plato generally but what he had to say about ‘pandering’ in the Gorgias seems as apt today as it was in classical Athens. With the main parties pandering to misplaced concerns about the deficit, immigration, benefits etcetera, it seems high time for a party based on the principles of politics rather than mere political expedience.

    Again, thank you for the coverage.


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