North Shropshire by-election: Ex lads' mag editor's on the offensive against political correctness

You can't accuse Martin Daubney of being a shrinking violet. When editor of lads' mag Loaded, he famously organised a 'Straight Pride' march because he said heterosexuality was becoming unfashionable. As MEP for the West Midlands, he joined his Brexit Party colleagues in turning his back while the "EU anthem" was being played.

Martin Daubney, candidate for the Reclaim Party in the North Shropshire by-election, photographed here at The Fox Inn pub in Oswestry
Martin Daubney, candidate for the Reclaim Party in the North Shropshire by-election, photographed here at The Fox Inn pub in Oswestry

And now he's back in the region, as brash as ever, fighting the North Shropshire by-election for the Reclaim Party.

And while you are unlikely to hear the new Conservative candidate talking up Owen Paterson, the scandal-hit former Tory MP whose resignation caused the by-election, Mr Daubney has no such reservations.

"While we greatly appreciate and respect the work of Owen Paterson, we became very disappointed by the direction of the Conservative Party as a whole," he says.

Does he think the former cabinet minister was hard done by, in being pressured to resign from the seat he held for 24 years after being censured for his paid lobbying activities?

"A lot of rubbish has come from Labour about this, how can they be critical of this when Keir Starmer was up to his eyes in second jobs?" he says.

"It's a system which people always wiggle about with, as long as they are allowed to take second jobs. Owen, I think, went a bit far, but he is greatly admired in North Shropshire for his principled stance."

He reckons Paterson loyalists – and the type of people who may have read Loaded magazine in its heyday – are just the type of people who may vote for him in North Shropshire. He also claims a number of Tory councillors in the area have already pledged their support.

But while many people will have heard of Martin Daubney, his party may be less familiar. The Reclaim Party is the new political movement launched by the television actor Laurence Fox when he stood in this year's London mayoral election, pledging to "fight against extreme political correctness" and "end the Met's obsession with diversity and inclusivity". In August the embryonic party announced Mr Daubney would be its deputy leader.

At the moment the party is not open to mass membership, which Mr Daubney says is down to red tape surrounding the opening of a bank account.

"We are going to move towards that further down the line - at the moment we are a small, nimble party," he says.

The son of a Nottingham coal miner, Mr Daubney spent the first 40 years of his life as a staunch supporter of the Labour Party.

"I grew up in a house where we read the Daily Mirror that was covered in coal, that's how working class we were," says Mr Daubney, who is 51.

"There are two things you inherit, the football team and the politics. The difference is you are allowed to change the politics."

He says it was the leadership of Ed Miliband that convinced him that Labour was no longer the party of the working class, and after that he voted for the Liberal Democrats and even the Women's Equality Party.

"I voted for them because they were local candidates," he says.

"I voted Liberal Democrat in the local elections, where they were campaigning for free parking. The Women's Equality Party was campaigning for full paternity leave rights for fathers, something I have been campaigning on for years."

Mr Daubney, whose Westminster seat at Brussels included North Shropshire, says he thought his political career was over when Britain left the European Union.

"The Conservatives were elected on the slogan of Get Brexit Done, but we didn't get Brexit done," he says.

"We have machinations going on over fishing, we had the terrible scenes in the Channel this week, I have been pulled back into this game.

"We have a Conservative government in name only, but it's not pursuing Conservative policies," he says.

"We've had Corbynomics, with the highest taxes since World War II, inflation eating away at people's savings, dementia tax Mk2, and that's before we get started on all the green taxes.

"Nobody voted for any of this. We don't have a Conservative government."

He says the biggest priority at the moment is the migrant crisis, and called for referenda on both Britain's membership of the European Convention on Human Rights, and its commitment to net-zero carbon emissions.

He says he is good friends with many of the 'red wall' Tory MPs who were elected at the last General Election.

"They are really good lads, good working-class people. The problem is the leadership, Boris Johnson has lost the plot on the green issues."

He also wants the Government to take advantage of Britain's independence from the EU by cutting VAT on fuel.

"Tony Blair famously once said referenda were 'too much democracy'," he says.

"I don't understand that. How can you have too much democracy? It's like saying we have too much oxygen. You have got to let the people decide."

He also wants legislation that would prevent social media sites from censoring comments that do not fall foul of the law.

"We are seeing the politicisation of law and order, with the police on gay pride marches and painting their nails, and this fixation with transphobia," he says.

"The police are not patrolling the streets, they are policing the tweets. Try to get a police officer round if you have been burgled, but they will be right on to it if you've made a transphobic tweet."

Mr Daubney says the right to offend is fundamental to living in a democracy, and it should not be the role for the law to enforce its opinions on others.

"Loaded magazine was set up to offend the precise people that are offended by everything now," he says.

"If you go to the pub or the working man's club, you can always find people being offensive, that is the nature of human interaction. You have to be allowed to be offensive.

"If you are led by a tiny minority of people who are offended by everything, therefore nothing should be allowed, we have lost our lives.

"Remember Charlie Hebdo? We were all 'Je suis Charlie' then. People have to be allowed to be offensive."

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