Pub landlord's fear over Murray bid
A real-life pub landlord in South Thanet has welcomed comedian Al Murray's intention to stand for Parliament against Ukip leader Nigel Farage.
Jim Barber, who manages the Queen's Head in Ramsgate, Kent, said Murray's intervention as a parliamentary hopeful could help draw in younger voters.
But the 37-year-old married father of two fears Murray's stand for Parliament under the guise of his comic creation the Pub Landlord could also trivialise political debate.
The ex-immigration officer, who has run the pub overlooking Ramsgate Harbour for three years, is undecided over who will get his vote in May.
Speaking across the bar, Mr Barber said the Pub Landlord's proposals, including blocking up the Channel Tunnel using British bricks and introducing a penny a pint, would raise laughs.
But he added that the area faces serious issues surrounding the local economy and immigration, particularly with the resort's close links to Dover.
Mr Barber said: "I do think that you could argue that Al Murray's decision to stand for Parliament trivialises things slightly, but I do also think things need lightening up somewhat.
"Perhaps he could make it more accessible to people who have not got a lot of interest in politics. But there are issues in South Thanet that need to be taken seriously.
"People need to remember that we can all have a laugh, but there are serious issues here. Unemployment comes high on everybody's list round here and there are issues on the high streets as they are dying.
"As much as it is a bit of a laugh and a bit of fun, there are other sides to it. I think it is a bit of a wasted vote to vote for Murray.
"But there isn't a great deal to choose from. A lot of people have lost a lot of faith in politicians over recent years."
Mr Barber said he initially thought that Oxford-educated Murray's announcement to stand for Parliament under his newly-formed Free UK Party was a joke.
Under the guise of his patriotic creation, Murray, 46, will stand in South Thanet, a constituency which the Tories won from Labour at the previous election in 2010.
Mr Barber said: "I thought it was a wind-up when I heard Murray was standing. I saw it on Facebook and thought someone was taking the mickey."
The landlord said he would not be happy to introduce a penny a pint at a time when the national pub trade was under pressure.
But he went on: "If he came up with something that helps the licensed trade, I wouldn't say I would vote for him, but the bigger parties should listen to him.
"He's always welcome in here for a pint."