Lifting the lid on a Notorious Election Campaign

17 May 2016

The Greasy Poll  – Diary of a Controversial Election  will be launched at Wiff Waff Bar in Aberystwyth on the 19th of May at 7pm.

All parties say that they want more 'real people' in politics, but one man's experience perhaps suggests otherwise.

In the normally sedate rural constituency of Ceredigion, the general election of 2015 exploded into sensationalist headlines and the dirtiest campaign in living memory. At the centre of the fray was Plaid Cymru's English-born, first-time candidate, author and broadcaster Mike Parker.

The Greasy Poll  is Mike's witheringly honest diary of the campaign, in which he chronicles the exhilaration and exhaustion of this knife-edge fight, from the many moments of great hope to the controversies that saw him vilified in sensationalist newspaper headlines, and his ultimate defeat by three thousand votes to the incumbent Liberal Democrat MP.

'As an incomer to Wales and an outsider in politics,' says Mike Parker, 'I wanted to find out for myself if our electoral system really was as broken as I feared.'

'When I heard that Mike had been chosen as Plaid's candidate in Ceredigion, I knew he would face some problems,' says former Plaid Cymru President and musician, Dafydd Iwan, 'He was not only from outside the county, but was from Kidderminster, had outspoken left-field radical views, was gay and – wait for it – sported an ear-ring. At the same time, I was elated at the news because I knew he would bring something different to Plaid’s cause.'

'The fact that Mike is English born, and has learnt Welsh as a second language gives him a refreshingly different perspective on Wales and its people,' added Dafydd.

The book throws a searching light on many aspects of contemporary Welsh and British politics, as well as the means by which the press and media deal with it.

'He paid a harsh and high price as an individual and a writer for choosing to take a stand instead of grumbling from the sidelines,' says author Dr Jasmine Donahaye, 'But he returns as a writer with this damning, unflinching exposé of the foul practices of politicians, political parties and the press when an outsider threatens entrenched, corrupt power.'

From the perils of social media to the drumbeat rise of neo-fascism,  The Greasy Poll  details the splits, sags and soggy compromises of modern Welsh politics, and how badly it is failing us.

'The rise of UKIP is based almost entirely on the increasing acceptability of racism in public life,' says Mike Parker.  'We see it happening all over the world, from Trump to Le Pen, and we need to call it out for what it is.  But it’' not just UKIP.  Our media and other political parties are playing their disreputable part in its rise.'

'We need to discuss it far more, and with greater understanding of its historical context.' he added.

Mike also touches upon the homophobia he experienced as a candidate, especially during the controversy, and the effect it had on his mental health.

'Only after the election did I come to realise just how mentally battered I was by the whole experience,' he says. 'It's one of the reasons that I wanted to try and understand what happened by unpicking and writing about it.  Politics is a rough game, we all know that, but this shouldn't be the norm.  Small wonder that it tends to attract some odd and rather lost people.'

Based near Machynlleth in mid Wales but originally from Worcestershire, Mike Parker has written numerous critically acclaimed books inspired by his sense of place. In 25 years of self-employment, he's also been a columnist, TV and radio presenter and stand-up comedian.

The Greasy Poll  – Diary of a Controversial Election  will be launched at Wiff Waff Bar in Aberystwyth on the 19th of May at 7pm.

On the 9th of June at 5.30pm Mike Parker will be in discussion with Adrian Masters at the Gallery at y Senedd building in Cardiff Bay.

Events will also be held on the 7th of June at 7.30pm at the Black Lion Hotel in Llanbed and on the 14th of June at 7.30pm at the Grosvenor in Cardigan.

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