Although Paul Holmes has been spotted on election hustings at Camborne-Redruth, the other five Liberal Party candidates in Cornwall have so far preferred to keep a very low profile in this election. The most interesting of these mystery candidates is Robert Lee Smith at St Ives, with an undisclosed address in the constituency.
In the European elections of 2014 Robert Lee Smith was the candidate for Ukip with an address at Newmill, near Penzance. Under the matier name of Bob Smith he stood for Ukip at Camborne-Redruth in the 2015 general election. In 2012 he stood for Ukip in the first elections for a Police Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall. At that election he was described as an educational and child psychologist and given his proper title of Doctor. Further back, Bob had stood for Ukip in Falmouth and Camborne in 1997.
Bob (67), who arrived from Coventry in the 1990s, was not just a fleeting member of Ukip, like many others having joined in a fit of enthusiasm and left in a cloud of disillusion. He was a founder member in 1993.
The last time it was heard from, the Liberal Party was supporting the Ukip candidate in Truro at the 2015 general election. Is Bob now just returning a favour? Or he has he ditched his Ukip principles after a long allegiance of more than 20 years and now labours for the left populism of the Liberals? Anyone can change their minds but, apart from both parties being pro-brexit, this seems to be a quite a jump. Or is the Liberal Party in Cornwall just a front for what’s left of Ukip? Like the alien in Alien are they sucking the life from their hosts as they prepare to burst forth again when the time is ripe?
And what effect will the few hundred votes they gather have? Will they be confused Lib Dems, unable to tell the difference between Liberal Democrat and Liberal? Or will they be brexiteers, unable to stomach voting for the mendacious Tories? Who knows? In this weirder by the moment election of illusions who actually cares?
Update: It appears that Bob Smith is not alone. Two other Liberal Party candidates – Paul Nicholson in Truro and Falmouth and Elmars Liepins in North Cornwall were also former Ukip members.
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