Joe's singing endorsement for peace
Published 23/04/2015 | 14:51
Song, laughter and free train travel are the promises offered by one candidate to voters in Calder Valley next month.
Joe Stead, known as The Singing Politician, is standing in the West Yorkshire constituency for his own party - World Peace Through Song.
A professional folk singer and former "blinkered" Labour supporter, Mr Stead formed his own party after becoming disillusioned with mainstream politics and believes in the "huge power" of song as an alternative to war.
Mr Stead, 73, from Sowerby Bridge, said: "I was what you call a blinkered Labour voter until 2003 when Mr Blair decided it was a good idea to attack Iraq and open up the Pandora's box that we have now.
"And all the problems we now have stem from there - I actually do believe that Mr Blair should be tried as a war criminal - and I said I would never, ever, ever vote Labour again. And I haven't."
After a few years voting for the Liberal Democrats, Mr Stead realised he did not want to vote for any of the mainstream parties on May 7.
"In October I thought 'Who am I going to vote for in May?'," he said. "I might as well vote for myself. So I started my own party, World Peace Through Song."
Mr Stead, who accompanies his singing on a banjo bought by his grandfather just after the First World War, has a manifesto which includes nationalising the railways; free train travel for all voters; saving Halifax Accident & Emergency unit from closure; protecting dairy farmers; and stopping fracking.
His election songs include My Rainbow Race, which was written by American folk singer and activist Pete Seeger in the 1960s.
Mr Stead said: "Song has a huge power. There's great power in song. When people ask me how's this going to change things, I say to them 'Well, how are you going to stop the war by killing people who want to die?'"
He added: "We've got to talk to people. There is no point fighting people because it just brings up more and more and more problems."
Mr Stead said he has had a great response from the electorate in Calder Valley - a constituency with around 52,000 voters.
"I've had great fun. Well, I've got nothing to lose. I've had them laughing right from the start, I've had people laughing from the word go because that's something I can do, I can make people laugh," he said.
"So many people I have met on the road, talking to people on doorsteps, (they say) 'Do you know, Joe, I might just vote for you because I'm fed up with voting for parties who don't fulfil what they promise to actually do'."
The current MP, Conservative Craig Whittaker, beat Labour candidate and Cherie Blair's stepmother Steph Booth in the 2010 election to win the seat with a majority of 6,431 votes.
Mr Stead said he does not think he has an "earthly chance" of being elected but urged people to use their vote.
He said: "The answer is to vote for me, World Peace Through Song. On May 7, vote for Joe.
"Or if you don't vote for Joe, go out and vote. That's the most important thing.
"You have no right to criticise if you have not voted. On May 8, you have no right to argue about anything if you have not put your cross on there, or at least gone out and spoiled the paper.
"It's most important for people of Calderdale, and the whole country come to think of it, to vote."
:: There are seven candidates standing in Calder Valley: Alisdair Calder McGregor (Liberal Democrats); Josh Fenton-Glynn (Labour); Paul Rogan (Ukip); Jenny Shepherd (Green); Joe Stead (World Peace Through Song); Rod Sutcliffe (A Voice For The Region); and Craig Whittaker (Conservative).