It is not often that a love of your home town football team leads you into the fight for a seat at the Westminster table in Parliament. But the experiences of Blackpool fans over the last five years or more has politicised the fan base to a level rarely seen on these shores before.
On the face of it, the recent saga of Blackpool FC has been about mis-use of assets, greed, and the collision of two wealthy men fighting for the spoils from a shared asset. But for Blackpool fans up and down the land, it has been about far more than that.
We have always been proud of our club, its history, its culture and its central position in a community that has suffered more than its fair share of hard knocks over the years, and never more so than now. Football fans should not have to co-ordinate the work of food banks, or raise funds for the needy through sponsorship, as we have all found ourselves doing. Nor should we have to fight to keep our club alive and preserve its identity in the way that the Blackpool Supporters Trust, Tangerine Knights and Muckers Support Group have felt obliged to do .
It would be easy to see our local struggles as being just about a football club. But what we have learned in the last four years is that some of the more powerful institutions in our society, in all walks of life, are completely unequipped to defend our interests and tackle failure and/or corruption where it occurs. They cannot do it, and too often they don’t want to either. For the EFL, you might equally read “the House of Commons”. The institutional inertia, the inability to solve deep-seated problems and the willingness to kow tow to powerful vested interests look remarkably similar when you critically assess both these very different areas of our life.
Many people of course become involved in politics and other forms of public life because they have a genuine desire to serve. It is one of the reasons why we are making this Parliamentary stand now. But we are also doing it because we are tired of a society in which power speaks only to power ; one where the things that ordinary people cherish are either completely overlooked or used to further the personal interests of a chosen few.
We love our town, but we know it needs a lot of loving care to restore it to its former glories, and to that extent it is very much like the football club we have worked hard to protect in recent years. We have learned from experience that national bodies are remote from us and our concerns, and that our local and national representatives have been woefully inadequate in raising those concerns, let alone fighting for them. We are not career politicians, nor do we want to be. But we do trust ourselves to fight more visibly and effectively for the things that we all hold dear than the current crop of politicians have managed so far. All we ask is a chance to prove ourselves ; and we hope that local people will give some or all of us that chance on December 12.