The two major passions in my life are working/volunteering in my local community and campaigning for greater awareness on men’s issues particularly relating to Domestic Violence and so May 7th 2015 was an well anticipated date for me. I gained experienced and insight into both the mechanics of Parliamentary and Local Elections. On May 7th, I went to the count and verification of ballot papers for the Ashfield constituency and Ashfield District Council.
I was standing as a candidate for a newly-formed community group ‘Hucknall First Community Forum’ in the West Hucknall ward of Ashfield District Council.
There was a great camaraderie among the local candidates and I think that local elections are probably more friendly because very often the candidates are already working together for the betterment of their communities irrespective of their political allegiances.
One of the local UKIP candidates standing in the same ward as me shared the same surname. Coincidentally his brother shares my name. As we were discussing names Ray Young (UKIP) said , “There was also an ‘Ian Young’ standing in the Sherwood Parliamentary constituency . I confessed that I was that ‘Ian Young’ and had withdrawn my candidacy and ended my association with ‘Justice for Men & Boys.’ Instead, I had decided to stand for my local community with ‘Hucknall First.’
The only thing that marred the atmosphere was an encounter with Mike Buchanan, the self-appointed and self-styled leader of the party ‘Justice for Men & Boys (J4MB).’
I had maintained a dignified silence all throughout the election campaign about my reasons for quitting J4MB although Mike Buchanan was aware of them.
My verification of ballot papers for Ashfield District Council and Mike Buchanan’s for Ashfield Parliamentary Constituency took place at the same venue. While awaiting for entry, Mike Buchanan arrived and saw me waiting to go in. I gave him a standard nod of acknowledgement. He then walked over to me and said, "Ian, I can't believe you have the nerve to come here tonight. I'd rather you hadn't." and then just walked off.
Now I’m a very placid chap and didn’t respond. I actually didn’t have chance to respond and to be honest, had I thought of a comeback, i won't have voiced it. I’m not a confrontational character and I believe fully in respectful and calm dialogue with others. In my mind, more can be accomplished by calm and reasoned debate rather than adopting a ‘Mr Angry’ persona. Anger diatribes only ensure that the other person will not engage with you and there’s no way forward for both parties.
But this encounter did annoy me. I had every right to be there. I was a candidate and , unlike Mike Buchanan, I am a resident of Ashfield who actually cares about the local community. I was standing there because I wanted to continue to make a difference to my community and NOT start or try to engineer a war with the defending MP, Gloria De Piero.
So I have decided that in light of Mike Buchanan’s attitude towards me, it is now time to cite my personal reasons and lift the lid of his ‘Justice for Men and Boys’ Alter-ego.
Mike Buchanan contacted me in November 2014 asking whether I would like to stand in the forthcoming election as a Candidate for Justice for Men & Boys after hearing a radio interview I gave on BBC Radio Nottingham. At that time, they were holding a fund-raising event to find just under £ 40,000 and Mike Buchanan asked me whether I could fund my own candidacy and also informed me that J4MB had some donors who could easily give £ 40,000 to the cause. When I said that I was interested in standing but couldn’t afford to fund my own candidacy, Mike Buchanan said to leave it with him and he would consult others in the Party and come back to me.
After this consultation, Mike Buchanan contacted me and said that Justice for Men & Boys were prepared to fund me as their candidate for Sherwood. I was quite flattered by this kind offer and was rather seduced by the concept of being a parliamentary candidate. After all, not everyone can claim to have done this.
What followed next was a serious of meetings in Nottingham where Mike Buchanan travelled by train from Bedford. I didn’t think anything about the mode of transport at the time. Frequenting the local Weatherspoons also featured prominently during these visits as Mike promised a ‘lunch’ on J4MB’ and consumed a few pints. My alcohol consumption was very moderate by comparison.
One donor had suggested to Mike that Nottinghamshire Parliamentary seats were worth a close look at. When Mike saw that Sherwood’s current incumbent only had a majority of 214, Broxtowe’s a majority of 389 and Ashfield’s a majority of 192, the idea formed of having Justice for Men & Boys 3 candidates (rather than the 30 originally imagined) stand in a block of neighbouring and marginal constituents. Furthermore, the present MP for Ashfield was Gloria De Piero the Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities. Challenging such a person appealed strongly to Mike Buchanan and he decided that rather than contest his home of Bedford, he preferred to stand in Ashfield. He also persuaded Ray Barry of Wolverhampton to stand in Broxtowe.
Anyone can contest any seat in the country. The requirements are that the Party election Agent must live in the constituency or a neighbouring constituency . By default, I would be my own agent and also act as agent to Mike Buchanan and Ray Barry.
Once the idea of being in Ashfield took root, Mike Buchanan asked me if I knew of somewhere where he could stay for a couple of days while campaigning. All he would need was a bed and a corner. Like a fool I offered. A couple of days then became three months before the general election on May 7th. At this point, I should have said something but I didn’t. I thought that the three months would pass quickly.
I was also asked if I knew of anyone who had a car he could borrow as a run-around to get him from my house to Ashfield. When I couldn’t come up with anything, he then suggested that he could accompany me on my journey to work, use my car during my working day and then collect me from work! I wasn’t happy about this and it was far from practical. This was when doubts about the character of Mike Buchanan first started to surface. What person of his supposed standing doesn’t have their own car?
Give Mike Buchanan an inch and he will take a yard. Within a very short period of time, I began to feel like a lodger in my own home. On the second day he was in my house, he had arranged for 30,000 leaflets to be delivered there. I arrived home from work that day to find that my front room was piled with boxes. While Mike Buchanan spent the evening in the local Weatherspoon’s pub, I re-arranged and stack the boxes so that I could at least regain a room. When he saw how I managed to sort out over 50 boxes of leaflets, his comment was, “I never even thought of that.” In fact, Mike Buchanan seemed to be quite bereft of normal household common sense. Another day, I arrived home to be told that the toilet had broken because the flush was on a continuous cycle which was/had drained the water tank. I’m far from a handy man, but even I know the basics of how a toilet cistern works and was able to resolve the issue within minutes of walking through the day.
On another occasion, he phoned me when I was at work and had left a voicemail to say that his key was jammed in the front door and he couldn’t unlock the door or remove the key and so he’d taken the back door key. He did say that the ever generous Justice for Men & Boys party would pay for any repairs needed. Again, I looked at this when I returned home from work. All that was needed was for the door handle to be lifted in the correct fashion. Within seconds, I had ‘unjammed’ the key. I’m just glad I didn’t ask him to change a light bulb! Mike Buchanan did kindly offer to defrost my freezer while I was at work and managed to do that okay. His motive for doing this was to free up space in the freezer to store his frozen meals. One evening, rather than go to the local Weatherspoons, Mike Buchanan decided he would eat in and took one of his frozen meals out of the freezer. He commented that he should have thought of this earlier and taken it out so that it had time to defrost. When I suggested using the ‘defrost’ function on the microwave he admitted that he’d never done that before or even had thought of using a microwave to defrost food.
Here was a supposedly political leader staying in my house, and yet lacked basic household skills and knowledge. I later learnt that his 'home' was a room he hired off a landlady.
The Labour Party deciding to use a Pink Minibus to campaign probably saved my car from being commandeered by Mike Buchanan. Before he came to stay I hadn’t realised he hadn’t a vehicle, it was only when he asked if I had any means to acquire a car for him. A supporter of Real Fathers for Justice, a group fronted by Ray Barry who was J4MB's other candidate was keen to make a challenge to the Pink Minibus and so donated the money to buy a Justice for Men & Boys van.
A vehicle was found and details swapped. The collection point was agreed and so one cold Sunday morning four blokes found themselves in a lay-by just outside Bedford. I’d driven Mike Buchanan down to this meeting place in my car, the seller had travelled up from Kent with the van on the back of a transporter, and the donor made his way there too. The donor handed over an envelope containing £ 1,000 to the seller who unloaded the van off his transporter and then gave Mike Buchanan the keys. Both the seller and the donor then went their separate ways. As the van needed fuel, I followed the van to the nearest petrol garage. When we got there, Mike Buchanan was convinced he’d be conned and that the van was useless and not fit for the road despite having 11 months MOT. It had spluttered along. It transpired that all it really needed was some fuel in it! At the garage, Mike moaned that the speedometer wasn’t working and said , “It hasn’t even got a rear view mirror.” I pointed out to him that even if it did had a rear view mirror, he would have a job in looking out of the van’s rear back (windowless) doors !!
Mike Buchanan didn’t have high hopes for the long term future of this vehicle, believing that his enemies would trash it within days! The van has lasted longer than his expectations.
In his biography, Mike Buchanan describes himself as a former employee of the Conservative Party being one of their strategists. Initially, I thought well these guys must know what they are doing.
A lot of time was spent by Mike and myself researching just what was needed in order to stand as a parliamentary candidate. Again, I began to have doubts as I’d assume that this would have been something already known by someone with the experience he claimed to have in the political field.
The first time street campaigning took place was when I was working. Ray Barry joined Mike and Mike reported how difficult it was. The next Saturday, I went out on the streets with Mike and saw how uneasy he was in street work. Again, it stuck me that someone with political experience should have been more comfortable.
I asked Mike how many members the Party had, only to find out that there were no members. Mike Buchanan claims to be the Leader of the only party in the western world that stands for Mens’ Rights.
How can you be a leader of a party with no members? It’s illogical.
When did I start becoming uncomfortable with Mike Buchanan? Ray Barry had asked me if I knew of any local Bed and Breakfast establishments that he could use while campaigning in the area. As I was already hosting Mike Buchanan, I thought another one wouldn’t be a problem. So I suggested to Ray that the room Mike Buchanan was staying in contained 2 single beds, rather than book a ‘B and B’ I was happy for him to share the room with Mike if he needed too. However, Mike Buchanan wasn’t pleased about this insisting that he had no intention of sharing a room. Blooming cheek I thought, its my house anyway!
Mike’s Buchanan natural habits also revealed his true character . He would either spend the evening in the local Weatherspoons until closing time and then book a taxi back despite it only being a maximum of ten minutes’ walk or would watch whatever he wanted to watch on my television while consuming at least one bottle of wine and several bottles of beer each night. The only thing Mike bemoaned was the lack of a bottle opener in my house. He had to go to the local supermarket to purchase one. All claimed on Justice for Men & Boy expenses no doubt!
In the short spell he stayed, the local taxi company had established first names terms with him. I would retire to bed for the evening leaving Mike watching TV and drinking. When I woke in the morning and got up, it was a regular occurrence for me to discover lights let on etc. One morning when I came down for breakfast at 6am, Mike was fast asleep in the arm chair with the TV still on. About 10 minutes later, he walked through to the kitchen and behaved in a fashion as if to suggest to me that he’d just got up for a glass of water.
Another thing that irked me was that while we were supposed to be fund raising for our campaigning, Mike Buchanan put out an appeal for £ 1,000 so that he could travel to America for the next International Men’s Conference. Surely all focus should have been on the general election? And why ask donors to finance his trip to the States? Any other attendee would be financing their journey themselves.
I was campaigning for equality for men especially Father’s Rights and Domestic Violence services, but the manner in which Mike Buchanan wanted to confront women started to seriously concern me. He couldn’t watch a TV show without swearing at the screen, or rather the woman on the screen who was oblivious to his vile mouth. His insistence to present ‘Lying Feminist of the Month’ awards to women that had angered him was to me a pointless exercise that belittled what we were trying to do and just made him look stupid. But making these awards seemed to be his driving motivation.
All you have to do to receive a ‘Lying Feminist of the Month’ award is to repeat the disproved and incorrect ‘statistic’ promoted by Women’s Aid that ‘2 women a week are killed by their partner/ex partner.’ As well as the award, you will be challenged to retract the falsehood. Of course, no one ever takes being a recipient of this seriously apart from Mike Buchanan.
But then Mike Buchanan never tells a falsehood to promote his own political agenda does he? The afternoon the sign writer added the Justice for Men & Boys livery to the Blue Van, he telephoned me to tell me how good it looked and as he was about to leave, an old lady had approached him and asked what it was all about . As he explained, she became very emotional , confess that she hadn’t seen her grandchild for years and thanked Mike Buchanan for trying to make a difference and change things. When I arrived home and commented how amazing that was, Mike Buchanan admitted that he’d made the story up and that it was a ploy he used often especially when trying to elicit donations off of gullible donors. He said he would often post online that ‘Fred’ had donated his last £ 10 because of ..and cite a made-up story.
My involvement with Mike Buchanan started to cause a rift between me and me children. The irony of campaigning for Fathers Rights while potentially pushing my own children away was something that weighed heavily on my mind.
As this was happening, the final straw was one Friday night I went to bed leaving Mike Buchanan watching TV. Mike had given me that night 2 Easter Eggs for my children . All I could hear was Mike Buchanan swearing loudly at the screen. When I woke in the morning, he had left lights on. That was it. I made it known to Mike Buchanan that I no longer wished to stand for or be associated with J4MB. By mid-day, he was gone although he couldn’t fit everything into the blue van. I said he could return to pick-up the remainder and then drop off the key I’d lent him. He returned the following Wednesday while I was at work, taking the rest of his things and also taking with him the Easter Eggs that he had given me for the kids. Having seen close-up what Mike Buchanan is really about, I have no desire to be aligned to his warped ego and would warn anyone to be careful of being associated with him.
At the time, Mike Buchanan was trying to encourage the gullible donors to contribute more money to the election campaign and didn’t want to announce that I’d withdrawn so asked me not to make any formal announcement for fear of reducing possible donation income.
To: Ian Young J4MB candidate, Sherwood
Ian, we're putting out an appeal to fund the Royal Mail leaflets this evening. We've decided to do what we can to field a replacement candidate in Sherwood, but we need for the moment to hide the fact you've stood down, in order to raise the money for three candidates by 6 April. This is another reason we'd prefer you don't say publicly you've stood down. Thanks.
Men's Issues certainly need representing in the political area, but 'Justice for Men & Boys' is not the vehicle. The issues that affect men need presenting in a way that doesn’t set men against women but recognises that true equality comes when both genders are in harmony and aware of all inequalities that need tackling.
As a footnote, how did the electorate respond to J4MB?
Ray Barry, a nice guy who would have probably been better off not associating with Mike Buchanan received 63 votes in Broxtowe. Turnout was 53,440. In 2010, Ray Barry stood in Wolverhampton South West seat for Equal Parenting Alliance and received 246 votes.
Mike Buchanan received 153 votes in Ashfield with a turnout of 47,409.
So in 2 seats combined J4MB received 216 votes out of a possible 100,849 turnout, or 0.21% of the vote.
At the local election in the 10 Hucknall wards, we reflected the national picture. Strong favourites Labour under-performed losing 4 of the ten seats they previously held. The Conservatives did better than expected gaining 4 seats. UKIP featured very strongly without gaining a seat and Hucknall First Community Forum ( which only came into existence mid-March 2015- 6 weeks prior to the elections) gained just under 4,000 votes.
I received 302 votes which was 6.5% of the turnout in the West Hucknall ward. I will continue campaigning for my local community and greater awareness for men affected by DV.