Ben Fletcher, who is deafblind, stood for Parliament as a Green Party candidate in Putney last night after weeks of campaigning. Our editor Charlie Swinbourne interviewed him about election night.
Hi Ben, I saw you on TV last night as the results came in, and was really proud to see you get over 1000 votes as a Green candidate for Parliament in your first election. What was it like?
What a night! I’ll never forget it. I beat UKIP with the Greens! I got one of the best Green results in UK – nearly double the Green average.
It was also amazing to see Marsha De Cordova, the blind Labour candidate in neighbouring Battersea unseating the Tory MP.
How are you feeling today after weeks of campaigning and a very late night?
I’m feeling absolutely exhausted after a hard-fought six-week campaign, but absolutely thrilled to have gained the trust of over 1,100 voters in Putney at my first attempt to stand for Parliament.
Last night was a big night for Labour in London. In my constituency, we managed to squeeze Justine Greening’s majority from 10,000 down to just 1,500.
How are you feeling about the results overall?
Although I’m obviously disappointed not to see better results for the Green Party last night, I’m relieved and proud of the UK for saying no to the direction Tory politics wanted to take us in.
What do you think about the prospect of another election?
As to another election – with the current First Past The Post System, I think most progressives like the Greens would stand aside for Labour in marginal seats, like Putney has now become, in exchange for an agreement from them to commit to fight for a fairer and more representative voting system, one in which all votes count and people around the country can re-engage for politics.
What do you feel your campaign has achieved?
I’m extremely proud of what I managed to achieve in six short weeks: over a thousand votes for the Green Party in a Tory safe seat, a raised awareness of Green issues in the Deaf and disabled community, and the start of a positive conversation in local, national and social media about the contribution disabled candidates can make to politics if the support they need is there.
A great highlight for me was presenting the Green Party Disability Manifesto in Putney in front of BBC TV cameras with the Green Party Co-Leader Jonathan Bartley, and teaching him how to sign Vote Green in BSL!
Lauren Harris, Ben’s partner and campaign manager added:
Even if Ben didn’t win, I think he’s had a huge impact: on the hearing world by showing them Deaf/deafblind people have something valuable to contribute to politics in our country, and to the Deaf world, as a role model encouraging others to follow suit!
Further resources: Watch the BBC’s video about Ben on Facebook by clicking here.
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