On Thursday we told you about Ray Woolford, the most confusing candidate standing in the local council elections on that day – if you missed it, you can read all about him here. In short, before fighting Thursday's election in Lewisham, he had already fought nine elections for five different parties, from across the political spectrum – from Lib Dem to far-left, via the Tories. His current party, the left-wing Lewisham People Before Profit, regularly kicks up a stink about the housing crisis, which makes it weird that Ray is an award winning estate agent. The one time he did win a council seat, he stood as a Liberal Democrat and soon found himself the subject of an Early Day Motion noting that though he had won "on a virulent campaign alleging corruption", he had also "been convicted in September 1992 at Southwark Crown Court on two charges of obtaining money by deception."
Last night it was announced that, sadly, he lost Thursday's election, too. Marking his ninth failed attempt to become a councillor – against a solitary career victory.
Perhaps, in some small way, my article about him contributed to his failure. Who knows how many floating voters read the article before casting their ballot?
A fair few, in fact. Because on Thursday afternoon, in an attempt to spread some truth and cut through the election's propaganda, a couple of concerned citizens printed off copies of my article and began handing them out at New Cross station, where Ray was doing some last minute electioneering. Ray responded by calling the police.
23-year-old Kier Swaffield was one of the thorns in Ray's side. He told me, “We were just telling people to consider who this guy was before they voted for him. We were clear it wasn't personal, but about politics. As a politician you need to be authentic. People need to have faith in what you say you're going to do.”
Unsurprisingly Ray wasn't all that happy about the article. "He was saying how bad VICE was, he was saying that because you moved from paper to mainly online stuff that was a sign that you were going down," said Kier.
Don't be that way, Ray.
Then Ray claimed that what the pair were doing – handing out an article and talking to people – was illegal and called the police. The cops arrived, and Kier said that he didn't think he was doing anything illegal. “The policeman then said, 'I'm afraid you are, but if you give us these articles you're handing out and don't do anything else today then I'll let you go'. So we gave him the leaflets and they took our details.”
21-year-old Tanisha Jarvis, the other person handing out the article, said she felt intimidated by the police and that, “It was kind of sad because we just wanted people to know the truth so they can be well informed before they vote for someone.”
Kier said, “This kind of thing appears to be the epitome of British politics right now. People take it at face value, they think that it is people before profits and they are going to be concerned about them but really it's just about [Ray] furthering his own political career.”
I'm not really sure what the legal difference between handing out a printed article and sharing it on Twitter is, or whether the police would have anything to say about somebody liking the article on facebook. With candidates like Ray and the police hassling people for trying to get involved with the democratic process, maybe it's no surprise that turnout for the elections is predicted to come in at 36 percent.