For this post, I’m going to bring in a very special guest. Most of you will know who this is, the southern candidate for Vapers In Power. Dear readers, I pass this page on to Liam Bryan.
My First Hustings:
So, two days before I was really nervous – I mean, we’re a single issue party and I’d pretty much insisted that “Protect Our NHS” give me an equal voice. They didn’t want to at first, they said there wasn’t enough time for the “major” candidates as it was. I think it was me suggesting I go as a member of the audience that swung it.
The night before I slept ok – I just put the radio up a bit louder to drown out my thoughts I think, and on the day I didn’t get a chance to worry: up, work, home at 1, baby, phone some journalists about our press release (neither of whom were there – left messages) then down to the pool with my 3 yr old. Back, tea, hold the baby for a bit (she got the norovirus injection earlier in the week, or something) and is a bit crotchety. Bath with daughter no.1 while partner gets baby to sleep and then drop off daughter no.1 onto partner and baby and out the door. Should have made some spaghetti and had a helicopter following me.
Anyway, I get to the venue on time. Lots of posters about local NHS issues. Wander in. Get given a leaflet: “Thanks, er, actually I’m a candidate, is there anyone I should see?”. I get shown to the group of organisers and candidates, say thank you graciously to the organisers and give the candidates Clive Bates’ briefing. Tell them to read it! The UKIP candidate tells me he’s not had a fag for 4 weeks and has an ecig and baccy at the ready. I advised him to try the ecig first.
We sit down.
The hustings is organised so that we get a 2 minute intro then 1 minute to answer questions in turn. Now, all of these questions are about the NHS (apart from one CND guy who sneakily slipped trident into the mix), and they’re mostly about specific local issues. I decided to respect the organisers and be brief if I hadn’t an ecig point to make.
We’re in alphabetical order, I’m second. My intro is basically, I tried a cigalike from curiosity, it was ok and I could tell there was potential, I got a decent ecig and didn’t want to smoke again. Then the EU decided to ban the decent stuff. I may have gently suggested the pharma companies, the tobacco companies, AND the governments would benefit from the nobbling of ecigs.
It was well organised, a different person answered first each time and then we took it in turns, so apart from the one where I went first, there was plenty of thinking time.
There was a question about migrant workers (40% of NHS workers are migrants). I said how I’d got over how different people are somehow more deserving because of where they’re born and that there should be more migration. There was one from a nurse talking about the stress and absenteeism due to stress she experiences, even though her departments budget has meant to have been increased. I told her how at the school I’m working at, they restructured as they were 1M in the red, got rid of some actual teachers and created a new level of management!
At one point, I made a throwaway remark, “I’m so not going to get elected” and there was an “ahh” that went round the audience and I heard “bless” – don’t think they’re used to honesty at these events!
There was a question about privatisation (actually, apart from the CND one, ALL the questions were indirectly about privatisation) that I thought was worth expanding on – I spoke about how people don’t really play a part any more, about how vapers wrote and visited and actually got MEPs to historically vote against something, but then the corruptocrats just bounced it back.
I did call Trident a dinosaur by the way, when the CND guy asked his question, just my opinion!
It went well. I didn’t look at the clock until the last 30 mins, I was a bit panicky, but not too much, I think I was cogent.
And I did get the biggest laugh of the night in our 1min final statement. I said a UK Labour MEP steered the TPD through the EU, The tory Health Minister was on the EU Commission, a Lib Dem MEP said it was “a victory for vapers”, and UKIP managed to vote both for and against it, “I don’t know who you should vote for!” (forgot the Greens support of medicalisation, sorry, heat of the moment).
So, all in all – I don’t think I made us look stupid! Two more to go, I’ll bring a pen and paper next time!
Liam is standing in Kingswood, Bristol for Vapers In Power.
Vapers In Power came to be out of necessity thanks to the EU Tobacco Products Directive, specifically Article 20 section 5:
Vapers In Power was created over fears that were confirmed when Article 20 section 5 was added to the TPD, a clause that could forbid the promotion of vaping. As a political party whatever laws are introduced, they cannot prevent us from advocating for and talking about e-cigarettes, that includes in public venues, on radio and television. If Vapers In Power had come into existence after the EU TPD came into law, this would not be the case, but because the Party already exists there will always be a Voice for Vapers in the UK. The key to the present campaign is making sure that voice is listened to, and hopefully it will all be completely unnecessary but, like I say, waiting until we found out would not have worked.
Abi Cottrill, Social Media Press Officer, Vapers in Power
If you don’t already, please go and give them your support:
You can also find regular calls to action on their website, where they regularly post things that everyone can do to help.
I want to thank Liam, Billy, Jess, Abi, and the team for putting this all together. I’d also like to thank everyone in the vaping community for coming together to make Vapers In Power happen, not just for one candidate, but two.
Promoted by Liam Bryan, 14 Cock Road, Kingswood, Bristol, BS15 9SJ
On behalf of Vapers In Power, 3 Coleridge Road, London, N12 8DH