Sunday 25 February 2018

Ukip man's waving election tactic

Ukip candidate for Perry Barr, Harjinder Singh, 37, who has been standing and waving at cars at a busy junction for 13 hours a day in a bid to get elected
Ukip candidate for Perry Barr, Harjinder Singh, 37, who has been standing and waving at cars at a busy junction for 13 hours a day in a bid to get elected

A Ukip parliamentary candidate has been standing and waving at cars on a busy traffic junction for 13 hours a day in a bid to get elected.

Harjinder Singh denies his unusual election tactic is a mere gimmick and believes that in almost four weeks he has earned more votes than had he "gone knocking doors".

The 37-year-old has already picked up an injury in his battle for the safe north Birmingham Labour seat of Perry Barr after aggravating an old shoulder injury which has now left his right arm in a sling.

Mr Singh who, if elected, would be the city's first Sikh MP, said he wanted the electorate "to be able to look me in the eyes".

"They can see that I'm here, and they can approach me," he said, speaking over the continuous din of traffic noise on the Scott Arms junction near junction seven of the M6 motorway.

Armed with just a handful of Ukip placards "an umbrella, my [party] rosette, and myself", Mr Singh is hoping to overturn Khalid Mahmood's huge majority of 11,908.

"I don't have a huge campaign budget as you can tell," he said, as a passing driver tooted their horn.

"So the people can see I haven't really got funds, and all I've done is stood here, communicating my message to the electorate, and they can hopefully get a good idea of me."

Mr Singh has been in the same spot so long now, he has mastered the elaborate sequences of traffic lights, swivelling on well-worn shoes to face the next queue of cars before the signals have even changed.

Many motorists seem happy to wave back, beep horns, and flash their lights, with Mr Singh joking he may have become something of a local tourist attraction, remarking: "They'll miss me when I'm gone."

However, not all the gestures have been supportive, but a pragmatic Mr Singh said: "That's fine. We live in a diverse country, we need to be tolerant."

Pedestrians crossing the busy thoroughfare also seem keen to know what Mr Singh, who stands waving from 7am until 8pm daily, is all about.

One passing 59-year-old man, who admitted having not voted in 30 years, gave Mr Singh some advice telling him "don't talk about attacking other parties - talk about what you'll do".

Mr Singh, who in the past voted Liberal Democrat, said his self-imposed all-weather challenge has been "gruelling", but he is "taking each day as it comes".

But locals do appear impressed and at the nearby Scott Arms, pub landlady Debbie McDonald said: "He's lovely - and plenty of people in here have told me they'll vote for him."

He is in the pub "two or three times a day" she said, to use the toilet, while they and other local eateries also supply him with drinks.

At a table near the bar, six men, nursing their pints, said "fair play to him".

But asked how they might vote, only one replied "Ukip" - three said Conservative, and the others remain undecided.

In any case, perhaps unfortunately for Mr Singh, the pub sits in the neighbouring constituency of Great Barr - although nobody at the bar could name any of the candidates for that seat.

One of the drinkers said: "Nobody has come knocking our door in Great Barr."

Press Association

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