We’re sick of it already. The election’s not for another two months, but the buzzwords, bickering and bland promises are already boring us to death. What a welcome relief, then, that Britain has a no-nonsense, lager-guzzling candidate who not only cuts through all the political bullshit but gives us something to giggle about too.
Nigel Farage? No, we mean the guv’nor himself, Al Murray the Pub Landlord. The barkeep-comedian is running against the Ukip leader in Farage’s Kent constituency of South Thanet as the candidate for the Free United Kingdom Party (FUKP).
This isn’t just a whim, either: the Pub Landlord has a ‘13-point Common Sense action plan’ to save the country, with initiatives including revaluing the pound at one pound ten pence (‘so it will be worth 10p more’) and saving the NHS (‘If you come to A&E and it’s neither an accident nor an emergency then you will be sent to a random hospital department to be practised on’).
As he sets his sights on public office, we put your questions to the MP-in-waiting to ask how he’d tackle London’s biggest problems.
My bank tells me that the only thing I can get a mortgage for is a tent, and not even a nice one from Millets – just a cheap one with really bad Amazon reviews. How would you sort out the housing crisis? Bruce Foxtons, Forest Hill
‘It strikes me that one answer to the housing crisis would seem to be to build more houses. Surprised no one has tried it yet. Common Sense. How hard can it be?’
Half of my salary goes on rent and a quarter on craft beer. The rest goes on tax, which is fair enough, but if I’m miserably squandering all my dosh, why are some people allowed to loophole their way out of it? Dean, Dulwich
‘Tax-dodging is the hot issue of the moment. And speaking as someone who has died in four pub fires now for tax and insurance purposes (try and make it look like a gas leak if you can), I can almost see why people who do pay their way might take umbrage at those of us who choose to travel light. But think about it for a moment: the Magna Carta specifically says no taxation without representation, and as far as I can tell there’s not one politician out there who represents you and me, the decent reasonable rational ordinary honest law-abiding hardworking people of the nation’s capital. So if they aren’t going to represent us, why should we pay tax? You can’t argue with logic like that, can you?’
Everywhere I go in London I’m confronted by beards, tight jeans, funny foreign coffee and shops that appear, then disappear. It wasn’t like that in my day, when every man wore a flat cap and the only meal you could buy was a pie – what’s going on? Danny Kaye, Balls Pond Road
‘The Hipster Invasion is something that has shocked London to the core. Who are these people? Where did they come from? Who on earth raised these muppets? And why do banks keep lending them money for things like fart cafés, hamster hotels and beetle-weaving boutiques as well as shops with ever-changing shopfronts that don’t sell anything actually? This is what happens when you raise a generation of people telling them they can’t lose the whole time: they end up wearing chaps, smoking pipes and trying to flog edible dungarees.
‘These nurks are everywhere, and seem to defy Common Sense reasoning let alone a hearty British pisstake. And while I like old-fashioned things as much as the next man and think that the past (including a decent land war and the constant threat of TB to keep you on your toes and take life seriously) is much better than modern times ever could be, going back to vinyl and the like is plain straight daft. The CD was good enough for Dire Straits, wasn’t it? And always lurking, the constant fear: is every clean-shaven man in London a hipster in waiting? The answer is most probably yes. Be afraid.’
All my locals pubs are closing. Where else am I meant to go to escape Deborah? Barry Homble, Barking
‘Pubs are like the buttons on the flies of the fabric of the nation: without them the country will come undone. There has been no greater damage to the fabric of these fair islands than the undermining of the pub in recent years: the last decade in the capital and in the rest of the country has been carnage. And so it is I applaud the gastropub movement with a heavy heart – after all, the word “gastro” belongs in front of the word “enteritis”. The gastro-brigade are fighting a doughty rearguard action in defence of the greatest institution in the world. I have my reservations about their weapons of choice – olives, hummus, pulled pork, baked quail, curly kale and crusty ale – but they are at least trying.
‘The heady days of a new O’Neill’s on every street corner now seem like a bizarre shamrock-tinged hallucination – a boom period no one at the time with any sense applauded but one that now we’d give our eye teeth for. As long as pubs are prized as floorspace, as square footage, as something other than what they are and ought to be – the beating heart of any community, a sacred space, a place of refuge, a place to elevate joy and obliterate pain – then they will be prey to the accountants, the management consultants, the kid trainees. And who do I blame? Tony Blair. Personally. That smoking ban… the bastard. Typical ex-smoker. Wanted to ruin it for everyone else. Iraq and the pub. What a hideous legacy of destruction. War criminal? Pub criminal, more like.’
As a graduate of Colliers Wood International College of Fashion, I’m finding it really hard to get a massive, cheap live-work space in Zone 1. Agnestorquil Velcro-Fly, Highgate
‘Karma, as I believe Boy George called it. For decades now we’ve had legions of so-called artists and assorted chancers coming to London, crapping into buckets and the like and expecting us all to clap our hands, say how marvellous and then cough up a quarter of a mil for said soiled bucket, so it seems to me that if artists are being priced out of the capital then it falls firmly under what goes around comes around. What this could mean is that Watford becomes the centre of the art world, which will be as big a surprise for Watford as for the art world: perhaps it’s the shake-up they both need.’
As a keen naturalist, I’m worried that the habitats of several kinds of London wildlife are being eroded. And by ‘wildlife’, I mean prostitutes. James Magazine, Epping Forest
‘London is famed for its green spaces. In France, in places like Paris, their parks are all gravel, which is mental. People come from all over the world to Hyde Park to marvel at the sight of horses shitting in a public place: and I for one will fight to my dying breath to preserve that look of shock on Spanish tourists’ faces. Parks are for bringing people together: in days of yore somewhere like St James’s Park provided a handy place for MPs and the great and good to get to know the guardsmen of London and so on. In recent years huge audiences have come together in Hyde Park to shush each other at some of the quietest rock concerts the world has ever seen. These spaces are precious because they are somewhere for reflection, solace, contemplation and hand-jobs at dusk. Parks: use them, or lose them.’
For more info on the Pub Landlord’s FUKP policies visit www.thepublandlord.com.