What missing from this election campaign? Al Murray

Image: Al Murray

“It was a once in a lifetime offer for the British public”

At this point in the 2015 General Election campaign Al Murray was out and about promoting the manifesto of his newly created Free United Kingdom party, (FUKP), standing against Nigel Farage (UKIP) in South Thanet.

Was he tempted to have a go this time? Absolutely not, he says. “We always said it was a once in a lifetime offer for the British public.”

His manifesto was ahead of its time, promising to brick up the Channel tunnel and bring back national service (but only for those who didn’t want to do it).

In the current aggressive, yet boring election campaign, he is sorely missed. So, what is he up to instead? And what does he think of this election?

“I think the interesting thing is that the Conservatives are being outflanked by someone [Farage] who, if they had ever bothered to argue with him properly they would have seen off ages ago.

“I was at the D-Day celebration and I literally bumped into him. I said ‘Shouldn’t you be in Clacton campaigning?’ and he said ‘Well you’ve got to be here, haven’t you?’

“If he could work that out, then why couldn’t Rishi Sunak? It makes them look stupid, flat-footed.

“They have relentlessly overpromised and under delivered and it’s finally come to bite them on the arse.”

He doesn’t say what his politics are, Al Murray told me, because “it reduces your ability to make jokes”. As a comedian “It reduces your freedom of movement”. But he does have a little bit of sympathy now for politicians, having been a candidate.

“I feel quite sympathetic towards them because, especially the media, are desperate to trip them up and derail them.

“We ran into a problem at the Farage end of things because he was worried about me taking the piss. He thought confused UKIP voters might vote for me by accident.

“We had a lot of fun during that campaign.”

He polled 318 votes – considerably better than five other candidates, including the ‘We Are The Reality Party’ and the ‘Party for a United Thanet’. Nigel Farage came second, beaten by Conservative Craig Mackinlay by only 2,812 votes.

Image: The Pub Landlord on tour

30 years of the Pub Landlord and counting

Al Murray is in the middle of a long tour of his Pub Landlord show, performing to between two and three thousand people each weekend. The tour startted in February and continues through the winter, after a summer break, all over the British Isles.

We are lucky in Chiswick that when he starts a tour he tries out his new material at the Tabard theatre. Not only do we get to see the show first, but we get cheap tickets.

“I’ll have to rewrite the whole show again after the election of course” he said, rather wearily. So we might get another sneak preview in the autumn.

Are people disappointed when they find out he’s not the raving fascist his Pub Landlord shtick might have you believe?

“No. With humour people can travel in many directions. I don’t care why they laugh as long as they laugh. I don’t get hung up on it. I’m not going to hand out a pamphlet explaining.

“I often wonder why I get singled out for this line of attack – the idea that most people in the audience don’t know why they’re laughing. I’m confident they understand exactly what’s going on. I’ve ploughed this furrow for 30 years, so I don’t worry about it.”

An audience of 100,000 people booking to see his shows over the course of a year says he’s right.

Images: Al Murray; Arnhem Black Tuesday

Arnhem Black Tuesday

He was at the D-Day celebrations to indulge in his other passion – history. Specifically, the history of the Second World War. He presents the podcast We Have Ways of Making You Talk with James Holland and is presenting a Second World War festival, the ‘We Have Ways Fest’ at the Black Pit Brewery near Silverstone in July (19, 20, 21 July).

He has also written several books on the subject, his latest about the Battle of Arnhem.

“I love the film A Bridge Too Far. There are lots of arguments around it. Knowing the outcome, it’s difficult to understand the decisions they made, but if you can look at them without foreshadowing the outcome, they did make sense.”

His book focuses on the events of one day, ‘Black Tuesday’, twenty-four hours which changed the course of the war. Al Murray will be talking about  Arnhem, Black Tuesday, at this year’s Chiswick Book Festival on Saturday 14 September.

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