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David Vigar comes to Stoke-on-Trent

February 20, 2017 5:07 PM
By Ed Fordham in Liberal Democrat Voice

Zulfiqar AliWhen I was growing up in Lincolnshire one of the great 'urban myths' in the school ground was that Jimi Hendrix played Spalding. Only recently did it emerge that in fact this was no myth, but a hard solid evidential truth. On Spring Bank Holiday Monday May 29th 1967 he played at the Buld Auction Sheds. Now it is a matter of some legend as to whether people were there or not.

In fact, given the truths emerging in Stoke-on-Trent I am wondering if Paul Nuttall saw Jimi Hendrix in Spalding back then - I better check his website… (joke)

So why is this important? Well in the folklore of Liberal Democrat by-election campaigns I am going to put my neck on the line. In the way that Leeds Central, West Derbyshire and perhaps cruelly given the geography Newcastle Under Lyme were important.

  • Leeds Central was lost in 1999 by 2,293 votes and felt painfully close
  • West Derbyshire was lost in 1986 by just 100 votes
  • And Newcastle-Under-Lyme in 1988 by a mere 799.

Now in all of these instances the Local Party and in fact the entire Liberal Democrat Party has had to go through a process of mourning and claim that they had the badge of honour - "I was at X election.. we nearly won…" and their eyes sink regretfully. Now please help us make sure that Stoke-on-Trent Central is not on that list of regrets.

Yesterday in the amazing melee that was the hordes of people pouring into the HQ a group of people upon being welcomed and greeted by me said they were from Bradford-upon-Avon. Without hesitating I said what I always say when I hear that town in a Liberal Democrat context "Ah the home of David Vigar." As I looked up, i realised it was David Vigar and family. Let me explain.

I used to be the Western Counties Campaigns Officer. David was selected for a constituency in Wiltshire pre-boundary change and he was the right candidate in the wrong seat. I can recall now the two occasions I heard him speak - enthusiastic, articulate and fundamentally liberal. Whenever I talk politics I say I am a Liberal Democrat because "I like people, the Tories like themselves and the Labour Party like structures. Only the Liberal Democrats understand the interface between self, structures, society and individual responsibility." Now I may have misremembered it, embellished it - but in my own heart and mind, I credit listening to David Vigar and for me to this day hearing him speak to the gathered members of Bradford-upon-Avon was an inspiration.

I don't think I ever told him, but thank you David Vigar. For then and yesterday…

So what we need here in Stoke-on-Trent to help us seal what could be an incredible deal - if you deliver a round of leaflets the voters will hear us, if you knock on doors and speak to five people, if you ring and speak to three people - then you will help us roll towards a result that you can all be proud.

Right, need to dash, HQ is open and it's The Wheatsheaf Hotel, Sheaf Street, Shelton, Stoke-on-Trent ST1 4LW. See you soon. And let's give our best support to Dr Zulfiqar Ali, he is amazing.

* Ed Fordham was councillor for Stoke West 1998-2002, stood for Stoke-on-Trent Central 1997 and is working full time for Dr Zufiqar Ali