Journalist-turned-would-be-MP Yvonne Ridley, who polled nearly 4,000 votes in the Leicester South by-election, has been stunned to find politics is dirtier than Fleet Street.
The candidate for the Respect Party is already planning to stand in the next General Election if she is selected, but remains staggered by the tactics used by her opponents in Leicester.
“Politics is far dirtier and more backstabbing than what Fleet Street’s finest have to offer,” she told Press Gazette. “I was quite shocked by that.
Although we are told that politics is a dirty game, I was taken aback by the depths some people were prepared to plumb.”
Ridley had to combat a rumour on the day of the poll, put about by supporters of another party, she claims, that she had suddenly stood down “so it was pointless voting for Respect”. “I didn’t find out about it until two hours later. It didn’t cost me the seat, but it would have affected some of the vote,” said Ridley, who polled 13 per cent of the total.
She also had to deny rumours that she had reconverted to Christianity, spread among Muslim voters. Ridley converted to Islam after she was captured while working for the Sunday Express during the war in Afghanistan.
Some of her meetings were cancelled without her knowledge: “There was a lot at stake in this seat. It was a real bearpit at times.”
But Ridley still feels she achieved three objectives: to get the Respect name known throughout the constituency; “to hammer another nail into Tony Blair’s political coffin”; and to prove there is room for a fourth party in English politics.
Off to South Africa on a speaking tour combining politics and Islam, Ridley has not been put off politics.
“Journalism is in my blood. I’ll always write but I’m sold on politics now.”
By Jean Morgan