From porn director to university don, the candidates boarding Clegg's bus

In the final part of our series, Michael Savage looks at the Liberal Democrats challenging to become MPs
Click to follow
Indy Politics

For the next few weeks, the Liberal Democrats will not be able to avoid repeated questions about which party leader they would like to see heading to Downing Street in the event of a hung parliament. But when it comes to their strategy for picking up seats at the next election, there is no doubt about the electoral rival in their sights.

Yesterday, the party parked its tanks on Labour's lawn. The tank in question was actually a canary-yellow election battle bus, emblazoned with the images of two unlikely guerrilla warriors, Nick Clegg and Vince Cable. The sight of the coach pulling into the marginal constituency of Hampstead and Kilburn marked the start of the party's election campaign. It also signalled Mr Clegg's intent to wrest the seat from Labour as he used the event to boost the profile of his candidate, Ed Fordham.

With the Tories resurgent, Mr Clegg's party is hoping to offset the Conservative onslaught by taking advantage of Labour's unpopularity. Candidates in close contest with Labour have been instructed to focus on two policies aimed at wavering Labour voters – their "mansion tax" on properties worth more than £2m and a pledge that no one will pay income tax on the first £10,000 they earn. The party has opted for experience to hammer home the message. Like Mr Fordham, many of the candidates in the target seats are experienced campaigners who have been given years to get to know their constituencies.

One of its most experienced candidates is standing in Watford. Sal Brinton, who has stood for Parliament at every opportunity since 1997, has also had roles on the party's influential federal policy committee. Her wide range of work experience, from BBC floor manager to venture capitalist, makes her a trusted voice.

In Edinburgh South, Fred Mackintosh has been out on the campaign trail for three years. He is tipped for a top job in a future Liberal Democrat shadow cabinet. Bridget Fox is also regarded as a safe pair of hands in the party's top target seat of Islington South and Finsbury. She has already dealt with the national media and will be put in front of the cameras during the campaign. It is also the second time she will have contested the seat.

Elsewhere, the candidates with a strong chance of replacing outgoing Liberal Democrat MPs are a varied bunch. Julian Huppert, standing in Cambridge, has interests that should endear him to voters with an eye to the future of "Silicon Fen" – as a university don, he has specialised in "G-quadruplex nucleic acids", which have serious implications for gene therapy.

Among the Liberal Democrat candidates who will struggle to make it to the Commons – but who might have livened up the place – are the pornographic film director and businesswoman Anna Arrowsmith in Gravesham, Kent. Columba Blango will struggle to vanquish Harriet Harman in Camberwell and Peckham, but the former mayor of Southwark would beat her on the sports field – he was a decathlete for Sierra Leone at the 1980 Olympics.

In the yellow corner: 'I care deeply about human rights'

Steve Goddard

Oxford East

Came within 1,000 votes of winning the seat from Labour last time, earning a swing of more than 11 per cent. Chances of winning have been boosted by the withdrawal of the Green Party candidate, the human-rights campaigner Peter Tatchell. He says: "I care deeply about human rights and social justice and I have a record of campaigning to protect our environment and fight climate change."

Fred Mackintosh

Edinburgh South

Labour's Nigel Griffiths is standing down, giving Mackintosh a head start – he has been working in the constituency for three years. Nick Clegg has visited and has cited him as a rising star. Strongly against the replacement of the Trident nuclear programme and opposed to tuition fees. He says: "The war in Iraq and the attack on civil liberties has renewed my national political enthusiasms."

Bridget Fox

Islington South and Finsbury

Second attempt to win the seat. Fighting a fierce campaign against the closure of a local hospital unit. Also battling against the Government's Digital Economy Bill, designed to clamp down on online piracy by cutting off offenders from the internet. She says: "It's pretty much, 'You're sick of Labour, there's no point voting Tory here and we've got good local experience on the council, so vote for us'."

Ed Fordham

Hampstead and Kilburn

Has been awarded the unlikely moniker of "the Barack Obama of Hampstead" for his work with local communities. Led campaigns against the poll tax in the 1980s. He says: "Most of the seats in Britain are between Labour and the Tories – but this one's changed. We're in the game here. They can try to dismiss it, but we're here to win and we're here to stay."

Colin Eldridge

Liverpool Wavertree

On the left of the party, he has called for tuition fees to be scrapped – a policy Nick Clegg has said the party cannot afford. Benefiting from local Labour Party division over the selection of Luciana Berger, a new candidate parachuted in to the constituency. He says: "For too long, we have had only one party representing Liverpool in Parliament. Too often, Labour has put the best interests of the party above the interests of Liverpool."

Carol Woods

City of Durham

A local councillor since 2003. Standing for a third time for the seat. Concentrating on her party's popular tax pledge to raise income tax threshold to £10,000 to win a seat held by Labour since 1935. Has been vehement in attacking the Labour incumbent, Roberta Blackman-Woods. She says: "Voting in favour of changes to the tax rate has been extremely damaging to this constituency."

Comments