How could I vote for a candidate who has raised his voice angrily when talking to me in the street – not once, but twice?
John Marjoram, my local Green Party candidate for the May elections, has distributed an election leaflet describing himself as ‘retired from teaching gardening to people with learning difficulties’ and his wife as ‘working with art Therapy’. He does not mention that he worked for a Steiner institution and that the gardening was biodynamic, and that his wife’s work is in Anthroposophy.
According to her website she is
‘a member of the Anthroposophic Association of Therapeutic Arts … Registered with the Council for Anthroposophic Health and Social Care… a Council member of the International Federation of Anthroposophic Arts and Eurythmy Therapies.’
You can’t get much more Steiner than that.
These Steiner associations are never made clear in campaigns, and often not taken into account during council meetings – eg when Steiner groups ask for public money or at a planning committee meeting . And yet Councillors are required to declare their interests and those of their spouse on election, so clearly they are relevant.
These associations do matter – the public should be informed that the 40+ Steiner bsuinesses in the Stroud area all benefit from each other. For example, the more Ruskin Mill expands, with planning permission from the council,(and it has expanded a lot) the more paid work there will be for art therapists, since the students are referred for the ‘therapy’ by the anthroposophists in charge.
John also illustrates in his leaflet the ‘robust community spirit’ he finds in Stroud by describing a viewing of some films; at least two out of the four are Steiner. When he talks of ‘community spirit’ is he referring to the town as a whole, or just to the Steiner community?
He also mentions he is a Quaker, and has told me this personally twice. Not sure why.
We are told he has been a Councillor for 30 years, Town Mayor 10 times, and Deputy Mayor. Leader of the local Greens, he has a high profile and a position of authority within the Party, and uses it to the full.
Councillor Marjoram has had my vote in the past, but I will not vote for someone who in my opinion has behaved without integrity, and to me personally in an aggressive manner.
His friendly, approachable image (he instigated the ‘Mayor’s Bench’ in town) is different from the rather abrasive even threatening reality I have encountered when dealing with Steiner issues. I approached him on two occasions – once to ask for support for opposition to the Steiner Free school plan (as Party policy stipulates) and once on the purchase of land at Hammonds Farm by the Biodynamic Land Trust. The first time only one person stopped to watch, but last time a small crowd gathered in the High Street; the local Green parliamentary candidate for the General election last year, passers-by, and some stall-holders were all intrigued by the spectacle of Councillor Marjoram’s conduct.
It was necessary to back off, I found, from someone who drew in close, raised his voice and was generally intimidating. Maybe he is not used to members of the public questioning or opposing his decisions. You would think all those years of experience would have informed his conduct with the electorate.
Maybe the Green Party should consider running a workshop for Councillors on this topic.