The sight of the Mad Hatter standing on Broad Street offering tourists the opportunity to visit Oxford colleges is well-known. However, this eccentric guide is also standing for election.
The Mad Hatter tells Cherwell that, “The point is to use humour to highlight social issues like housing. For example, it’s absurd that we live in a country where we impoverish or indebt most people by permitting the banks to bankrupt us all in an unproductive capital-drain of investment away from productive industries to a false economy of buy-to-let mortgages, which makes people rich from undermining everyone else – while the state subsidises or guarantees the banks. In my view, housing shouldn’t ever be a business – shelter is a basic human right and need. If elected, I would focus foremost therefore on housing.”
The Hatter also feels strongly that the current council has many flaws. He told Cherwell, “Locally, the city council has demonstrated to me that its executive team make decisions without taking any regard for their huge effects on people’s livelihoods, like mine. Sometimes the decisions they make lack sense too – such as following central government’s cutting of essential services, yet still agreeing to spend more than £9 million on a pool!”
The Hatter’s thoughts on a national politics in England are scathing. “Unless you recognise the Green party (which is the only party in England that I would vote for), the choices are to vote for parties of different shades of blue which imagine that bankrupting us all via housing price growth is the way to pretend times are getting better. Fortunately, Scotland is led by a different type of vision and so that’s why I’d like to forewarn you that if Oxford elects Mad Hatter on May 22nd, I would like to offer the good citizens of Oxford, the opportunity to secede from England and to join Scotland!
“England seems to be mired in right wing choices fueled by a xenophobic media narrative which says, ‘Lets blame foreigners instead of blaming our Westminster parties’ for their decades long mismanagement. I am so fed up with this divergence technique being played out. I used to canvas for two of those parties – one sold out in 2011 and the other sold its own soul in 1997.”
The Hatter emphasises that voting in local elections does matter. He told Cherwell, “Your vote counts more than in a national election and although local councillors don’t have a large influence, they can resist vested big business interests and try and stand up for protecting local services.”
Undoubtedly, the Hatter’s key point seems to be about standing up for small businesses.
“My standing as a candidate is the result of a genuine frustration that the (Labour held) City Council continually is undermining small traders like myself and placing completely unnecessary and often expensive obstacles in the way of our being able to trade.
The Mad Hatter will be lucky to be elected, but even so, his criticisms of governance are worth absorbing.
The full C+ investigation can be found here.