Drew fights on in ‘strange’ Stroud

By Alex Stevenson

Stroud’s Labour incumbent David Drew has reemphasised his commitment on working with politicians of all parties, after the constituency’s Ukip candidate backed him to win.

Mr Drew secured an unusual endorsement from Ukip’s Steve Parker, giving him an unexpected boost from eurosceptic voters who may otherwise have backed Conservative challenger Neil Carmichael.

“I work with all sorts of people,” Mr Drew told politics.co.uk. “If they’re prepared to work with me and coalesce with someone on an issue, I’ll work with them – even Conservative councillors.”

Mr Parker had written in an election leaflet: “Although I want your vote very much, in this marginal constituency I ask you to vote for David Drew if possible. He is a committed eurosceptic, who will continue to fight for our freedom in parliament and I don’t want to stop him getting there.”

Both Mr Parker and Mr Drew have publicly stated they did not discuss the issue before the surprise endorsement. “They’ve said some really good things about me,” Mr Drew said today. “It’s very welcome, but I didn’t ask for it.”

Mr Drew’s strongly anti-European stance is not the only area in which he has distanced himself from the government. He rebelled on the Iraq war and over anti-terror legislation – and advocates abandoning Britain’s maintenance of the Trident nuclear weapons system.

“People don’t respond to parties,” he explained, before adding: “We’ve got to get Green people to vote for me, we’ve got to get Liberal Democrat people to vote for me, we’ve got to get Labour people to vote for me.”

Mr Drew, who has a notional majority of just over 1,000 and whose seat is 16th on the Conservative target list, flagged up his environmental credentials in a bid to win the Green vote.

“I am a green MP, I’m just not a Green party MP,” he said, citing the fact he “cycles most places” and has backed British Gas’ Green Street 2 initiative as evidence. The Green party took over five per cent of the vote in the 2005 election.

With nearly a quarter of jobs in Stroud being in the engineering and manufacturing sector Mr Drew said he was determined to help the green economy “get up and running”.

His Tory challenger is clearly the favourite to take the seat, but Mr Drew insisted the race was likely to be “very close”.

“It’s very strange out there,” he said. “”Anyone who can read what’s going on in Stroud is either a psychic, or has got some money on it, or something like that.”