Conservative candidate gives views on opponent’s Greenpeace past

Festus Akinbusoye Image (c)Festus Akinbusoye
Festus Akinbusoye. Image: Festus Akinbusoye

Mid Bedfordshire voters will make up their own minds on the Labour candidate’s Greenpeace past, the Conservative candidate has said.

On 7 August, The Sun’s website carried the headline “Wannabe Labour MP unmasked as ‘zombie’ Greenpeace zealot – days after its activists climbed on Rishi Sunak’s house”.

The stunt the Labour by-election candidate, Alistair Strathern, took part in happened in November, while Sunak’s house was covered in black material earlier this month.

Festus Akinbusoye was asked if The Sun’s exposé was helpful for his campaign to become Mid Bedfordshire’s next MP.

“Given the antics of the Greenpeace group and given the level of disruption that they pose, the people of Mid Bedfordshire will obviously decide what they think about his zombie eco-fanatic stunt,” he said.

It has been reported that this was a protest against the Public Order Act, which critics said brought in “severe new curbs on the right to protest”.

Alistair Strathern Labour's Candidate for Mid Beds MP. Image: The Labour Party
Alistair Strathern Labour’s Candidate for Mid Beds MP. Image: The Labour Party

The Local Democracy Reporting Service asked if taking part in a “zombie eco-fanatic stunt” made someone less likely to be a good MP than someone, such as Michael Gove, who has admitted that he has taken cocaine.

Gove told the Daily Mail in 2019, “I took drugs on several occasions at social events more than 20 years ago. At the time I was a young journalist. It was a mistake. I look back and I think, I wish I hadn’t done that.”

Michael Gove
Michael Gove

“I would never consider that to be a good thing, but what you should be asking the LibDems is what their views are on decriminalising drugs,” Akinbusoye deflected.

“I think that would be a disaster for Bedfordshire Police and the last thing we want is a member of parliament who thinks it’s a good idea to decriminalise drugs, I think that’s just ridiculous.”

He added: “The reality is this, I’ve spent my last two and a half years or so as police and crime commissioner speaking out not just against the supply of drugs but also on the demand for drugs.

“It is very clear in my mind that much of the violence that we see in our communities, unfortunately, more and more in our rural communities, is being driven by the demand for drugs.

“And I would love to see a stronger line being taken by policing and law enforcement on the use of these drugs as is being done on the supply of it.

“I feel very strongly about this, probably because I have seen what this is done to some of my friends and what is done to their families as well and their businesses.

“So whoever is using these substances my message to them is don’t, you are causing more misery than you realise – whoever is using it,” he said.

by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter