Already making a name for himself, 73 year old Ray Hall, the “Beer, Baccy & Crumpet” (or BB&C) party candidate for the Eastleigh by-election, was in Hedge End village centre today, to talk to the media that had gathered to meet the Foreign Secretary, William Hague…
A disaffected Conservative, who revealed himself to be the father of local Conservative, Jerry Hall, Ray said that he’d found the morning’s events in Hedge End worthwhile, despite having had only 10 minutes notice of William Hagues visit and a mad rush to get himself ready and get down to the village…
When asked why he had decided to put down a deposit and stand in the election, Ray explained;
I’ve been a Tory voter for 50 years and I’m disillusioned and deeply concerned about the future of the country. I can’t see any of the other parties wanting to, or having the ability to get us out of the mess that we are in. We’ve got deep austerity which is getting worse. Taxes are going up, inflation is going up, wages are going down, jobs are being lost. Theres no chance of any growth under this regime and the coalition seem to have no idea of how to get us out of the mess, other than by cutting jobs. But cutting jobs is counter-productive and is going to create more unemployment, more inflation. It’ll create more debt, it’s an ever turning spiral, going back into itself.
A silver-smith, who specialises in retro silver photo frames, Ray continued.
I only decided, about 10 days ago, that I was going to stand on my own. I was aware of the beer situation and I cobbled the name together and if you look at it, if you abbreviate it, its BB&C. Every time somebody sees BBC, they’ll now think Beer Baccy & Crumpet rather than British Broadcasting Corporation…
But that’s not where the abbreviations stop, a flyer being dispensed by Ray Hall revealed that “Crumpet” is also an acronym, highlighting Ray’s concern for issues besides those immediately apparent in the name of his party.
When asked about the T, which related to Taxation and the campaign to re-instate the 10p tax rate, Ray explained;
The Labour party have copied that from me. This leaflet was printed in Hedge End, three days ago, before the Labour party decided to bring it out in their latest manifesto. It has taken them 48 hours to crib my idea of re-instating the 10p tax rate, which …Gordon Brown replaced with a 20p tax in 2007. That was a situation from which the Labour Government have never recovered. It was the start of their decline. It wasn’t the most stupid policy that they ever innovated. One of the other things that he did was he sold about half-a-tonne of gold. Gold that he sold for half a billion pounds would be worth about a billion and half now. He lost about a billion pounds…
Clearly having anticipated the next question, Ray produced a betting slip to show that he was confident enough to bet £5 on him winning the by-election, at odds of 1000 to 1. “The drinks are on me in a fortnight”, he confidently proclaimed.
Although the list of candidates was announced only a couple of days ago, the “Beer, Baccy & Crumpet” party has already caught the public imagination with Ray explaining;
I’ve got lots of support, I’ve had phone-calls from Yorkshire, from Weston-Super-Mare saying ‘what a brilliant idea, we’ll support you’. Its through that quirky name that people are getting in touch with me.
Moving on to local issues, I asked Ray Hall about the proposed housing developments in the area, he said;
Its a Government edict that 5000 houses should be built in the Borough. The Lib Dems have sourced the sites. They’ve got to be built somewhere, what the choice of sites is I don’t know but they’ve got to be built somewhere. Housing is a terrible issue in this country. People have got to live somewhere. It’s up to the Conservatives and the Liberals to make a decision on where they should go. Wherever they go it’s going to be “Not In My Back-Yard”, isn’t it, but they’ve got to be built…
Asked about pubs, Ray said;
That’s what my campaign is about. One pub closes every day in the UK. That’s 400 a year. A loss of 2000 jobs a year. This is my main proposal. Its the green shoots of my policy that will take the party forward nationally in the next 12 months and by the general election in two years time, hopefully, we’ll be a national party.
Pubs are an essential business within the community. Once you lose them it is very difficult to replace them. They’re gone. A pub develops a character over the years, like this one [n.b. The Barleycorn in Hedge End] You couldn’t build this now could you, it has evolved. Yes you can build new pubs, but they tend to be sterilised, almost like a school, they haven’t got that boozy atmosphere about them. We live in a society of free enterprise. If there’s an opportunity to build a pub somewhere and somebody thinks the business is there then build it, but I’d recommend that we keep the old ones going as long as we can.
On the issues of smoking, and smoking in pubs, Ray explained.
Smoking obviously is a health issue. I used to be a heavy smoker myself. I previously worked for Gitanes and Gauloises. I’m not promoting smoking, but my attitude is that smoking is a legal pastime. If people chose to smoke, the Government choose to take the tax from them at an enormous rate then I think they should be treated with respect. At the moment they have to leave the pub premises, smoke in the wind, the rain, in an area that you couldn’t call a building, in an area that might have one side as a windbreak. Personally I think that smokers should be allowed in a smoke-controlled area within the building, if its possible to do that. Provided it doesn’t inconvenience other users and be adverse to the health of other people in the vicinity. It wouldn’t be suitable in restaurants, near to diners, but in the old pubs you used to get a snug, a smoke-room in some of them. If you could have a separate room that was extracted, that would be better for the smokers and it wouldn’t affect the other people that were in there. It would also help the business of the pub, because a lot of pubs closed because people couldn’t smoke there. Old guys like myself, we like a fag and a pint and we can’t do it under the current regime. But we do pay massive taxes…
Probing further, Eastleigh News asked if Ray still smoked himself. Ray answered;
Occasionally I smoke a cigar. I worked in the tobacco trade as a retailer and as a representative for Gitanes and Gauloises, for 12 years. I stopped smoking 30 years ago, for health reasons. I’m 73 now, fit as a fiddle, I can jump the garden gate. I do enjoy the occasional cigar. I would like to walk into a pub have a pint and have a puff on a cigar, or even my pipe occasionally. I would not class myself as an addict, just an occasional smoker. I’m standing for greater respect for smokers who pay massive taxes.
Returning to some of the other big issues of the day, I asked Ray about Europe. He said;
I believe we are part of a family of 27 countries. In my family there is often strife, as there is at the moment over this election. When you get 27 people in a family, you’re obviously going to get even more squabbles. I think the benefit of being within the family, far outweigh the problems that you get if you are ostracized and forced out of the family. I think that we should stay in Europe and fight our corner, put our cause forward, be friends with the rest of Europe and we would enjoy the solidarity and freedom of 27 countries. Enjoy, their culture. At the same time, I would not want to see millions of Bulgarians and Romanians coming here and living on benefits, a situation that doesn’t actually benefit the indigenous population. I am not racially prejudiced. I’ve got three children biologically, a step child and one adopted Indian son. There’s no way that I am a racially motivated person. I am a family man.
On Gay marriage, Ray explained;
I share the view that it’s a minority issue and that there are other issues that time should be spent on that would be more worthwhile to the country, given the state that we find ourselves in at the moment. Personally I’m not interested myself one way or the other. I think that its up to the individual cleric to make a decision. Its up to the establishment to make a decision.
Now in full flow, Ray volunteered some thoughts on some other subjects;
One of my proposals would be to get on and build the new runway for Heathrow. It would create hundreds or thousands of jobs and create enormous revenue for the country. The only people that are opposed to it are the “cocks” that vote Conservative that live under the flightpath. The reason that those people matter is because the MPs that represent them are Conservative and they are frightened of losing their seat. They are not looking at the situation from an economic point of view. They are looking at it from a constitutional point of view and a consistency point of view as regards their own position.
The development that I would be opposed to is the new High Speed Rail Link, costing £30 billion to shorten the time of train journeys by 30 minutes. Does it matter…? There are more important areas where money could be spent. That rail link cuts through some of the most beautiful countryside in the country. It cuts out the heart of England.
A policy that I do have, for anybody with a Bank Account, is that if you get into an unfortunate situation and go slightly overdrawn and the bank slap a £30 charge on you for being a couple of quid overdrawn, provided you repay that couple of quid in the next couple of days you will get that penalty charge back.
Asked about candidates from the other minor parties and the Monster Raving Loonies in particular, Ray said;
I think they’re a bit mental personally, but they’re entitled to their own opinion. Good luck to them…!
I met the NHS Action Party Candidate, Dr MacLennan. A really nice guy. His proposal is that there should be more National Health, that the National Health should expand. I agree with that, but I find it very difficult to believe that we can afford to do so. It does need modifying but I don’t think it can be expanded at the moment.
Interestingly, Ray Hall lives adjacent to the property that is currently being used by the Southern Parishes Conservative Club in Hedge End, which is itself being used by the Conservative party as their campaign HQ. His house overlooks their car park and he has put banners there previously, to get his message across. A self-confessed renegade Conservative, the next couple of weeks in Hedge End promise to be even more interesting than we had first thought…
There are a total of fourteen candidates standing in the Eastleigh By-election. Here is the list:
1.Colin Bex – Wessex Regionalists
2.David Bishop –Elvis Loves Pets Party
3.Jim Duggan – The Peace Party
4.Ray Hall – Beer,Baccy and Crumpet Party
5.Howling “Laud” Hope – Monster Raving Loony William Hill Party
6.Maria Hutchings – Conservative Party
7.Dianne James –UKIP
8.Iain McClenann – National Health Action
9.Kevin Milburn – Christian Party “Proclaiming Christ’s Lordship”
10.John O’Farrell – Labour Party
11.Daz Proctor – Trade Unionists and Socialists Against Cuts
12.Danny Stupple –Independent
13.Michael Thornton – Liberal Democrat Party
14.Michael Walters – The English Democrats – “Putting England First!”