BBC News: Election 2010 BBC News

Page last updated at 12:19 GMT, Thursday, 22 April 2010 13:19 UK

Somerset village stands up against 'greedy MPs'

By Ruth Lovell
Politics reporter, BBC Somerset

Signpost and vote against greed poster
Burtle, near Glastonbury, is at the heart of the campaign

Driving across the Somerset levels, through the village of Burtle, I cannot fail to notice one thing.

Nearly every other house has a black and white poster up saying Vote Against Greed.

It was started by Robin Howell, who said he wanted to send a message to all politicians and parties about greed and corruption in parliament.

And now it is becoming a national campaign.

Parked outside Mr Howell's home, his car has its back seats down and more of the black and white posters, laminated and stuck on wooden posts, ready to be hammered into the ground.

'Bleeding obvious'

He said he started the campaign after hearing a politician claim the issues around MPs' expenses were "rather more complicated" than a constituent seemed to grasp.

"And I thought 'no it isn't.' It's bleeding obvious what it is. A six-year-old knows the difference between what's fair and what's greedy. So I thought we need to let them know."

As we drove around Burtle, it seemed that Mr Howell knew most of the villagers and most of them had got involved.

Robin Howell with his Vote Against Greed poster
Robin Howell has put up dozens of posters around Burtle

Mr Howell said he was amazed how many people were prepared to have a poster outside their home. Even a family who moved there a fortnight ago were displaying one.

He said of the 100 that he started with stuck on wooden boards, he only has about a dozen left.

The main campaign, though, is being conducted online.

More than 1,000 posters have been downloaded from the Vote Against Greed website and the Facebook group has more than 150 members.

Mr Howell said he knew the posters were up in homes across England.

"In Cornwall, in Southampton, in Sidmouth, in Reading, in London, in Bristol, in Sheffield. I know of those because people in the village have already told me they've told their friends and got them to put them up."

Mr Howell, who used to be a Liberal Democrat councillor in Bristol, said the campaign was aimed at politicians of all parties.

"Of course not all politicians are greedy or corrupt, but... the decent and honest should be as angry as the rest of us, and remember they were in a better position to be aware of the greedy culture they were part of."

Burtle falls into the Bridgwater and West Somerset constituency.

The candidates standing there are: Conservative: Ian Liddell-Grainger; Labour: Kathy Pearce; Liberal Democrats: Theo Butt-Philip; BNP: Donn Treanor; UKIP: Peter Hollings; Green: Charles Graham; Independent: Bob Cudlipp.

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