Picture credit: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images
Artillery Row

Give up already, Eddie

Eddie Izzard’s unconvincing political career is going nowhere

If a man declared his undying love for a woman, and a week later declared his love for another woman, you’d think of that man as insincere at best. In November last year Eddie Izzard swore the political equivalent of undying love for Sheffield and her people. He was, it appeared from his campaign declarations, going to stick around forever and make everything better for the people of Sheffield. 

Often sporting a hot pink coat and mini skirt, he posed with the police, hung around the buses and ran about in the park. Photo opportunities were plentiful, and he garnered the lion’s share of the media headlines about the race to stand as the Labour candidate for MP in Sheffield Central. Izzard made much mention of his Sheffield connections — as he had been at university here temporarily — and he boasted that Sheffield kick-started his creative career.  He eventually lost the battle to be selected but declared, “I took a risk in standing but I don’t regret it. Sheffield is a city that I love. It was before, and it always will be, close to my heart. Thank you #Sheffield.”

One or two people pointed out that in 13 years of having a Twitter (X) account Izzard had rarely, if ever, mentioned Sheffield. One user alleged that he had been asked to get involved in saving Sheffield’s trees — a huge campaign against aggressive tree felling by the council — but hadn’t contributed. If the trees had still been standing when he finally skittered into town on his vertiginously high heels, he might have grabbed reassuringly onto the trunk of one for a useful selfie, but it doesn’t seem that they registered at the time.

In the past few weeks, Izzard surfaced from the depths of the political pond, rearing his dyed blonde head in Brighton and announcing his intention to be the Labour candidate for MP in Brighton Pavilion. His love for Sheffield behind him, it seems, he was now newly enamoured of Brighton. The pink pretender flounced around the city declaring that he would even buy a house there when selected. Eyebrows were raised at how casually a wealthy man talked about purchasing some of the most expensive property in the UK. 

Izzard talked a lot about diversity in this latest bid to grab a seat on the green benches, referring to having been “trans” for 40 years and somewhat emotionally claiming his whole life had led him to Brighton Pavilion:

From the stages of drama and comedy to the roads of marathons, every step, and every challenge has led me to this moment — the chance to fight for Brighton, a place that’s been a beacon of hope and diversity. I’m ready.

How disappointing that his beloved Sheffield was in reality just a “step” to the much more attractive Brighton. It is breath-taking that he was welcomed into Sheffield Labour so resoundingly that at a large fundraiser he was cheered heartily by local party leaders — and guarded by party members as he used the women’s toilet to the subsequent outrage of many both inside and outside the Labour Party. 

What he also left behind him in Sheffield, as he stomped off to Brighton, were two politically discarded women. The article I wrote, including the photograph I took, documenting his toilet incursion, was tweeted by Alison Teal, the recently selected Green Party candidate for the same seat Eddie desired. In turn, I tweeted my congratulations to her on her selection as their candidate against him. Both she and I were subsequently ejected from the Green Party and Labour respectively. Alison had been central to the tree campaign in Sheffield and had been arrested protesting at the time; her passion and commitment recognised across local party lines. It is infuriating that she was suspended as a result of the offensive antics of this career-hungry pretender whilst he merely skipped off elsewhere in search of another seat.

Even the Twitter account Izzard used simply switched out the word “Sheffield” for “Brighton” and the links on his account about his Sheffield campaign now redirect to his Brighton Pavilion one. It suggests that he cares little where he is selected, as long as it delivers him safely into the Houses of Parliament. 

In Brighton over the past few weeks, he was also in love with all of her political issues and people. In the same hot pink coat and mini skirt, he splashed himself liberally around the city, boasting about his long commitment to diversity. He talked of ensuring cleaner beaches, better housing infrastructure and sustainable communities, safe schooling and SEN provision. Eddie learned the issues of Brighton almost as quickly as he forgot those of Sheffield. Yet Eddie was asked to speak to a campaigner around sexual violence in Brighton, who wanted to discuss the absolute absence of single-sex rape support, and he refused to engage. The woman, known only as Sarah Surviving, who is fighting a legal battle around the same issue told me:

Izzard repeatedly refused to engage with me about the lack of single-sex support for women survivors. This is a shame as it would have been a great opportunity for Izzard and Labour to show solidarity with marginalised voters — women who have been raped or sexually abused but have no support available to them.

In Sheffield, VIDA, a vital service for female survivors of domestic violence faces closure after missing out on funding bids repeatedly and without £54,000 they will cease to exist at the end of January. Staff are already on notice and running on less than empty as they try to find a way to continue. This Christmas they will be saving women from potentially fatal abuse in their own homes. Eddie hasn’t cast a glance over his shoulder at their plight despite his reported net worth of $22 million. Because he was never about Sheffield, or Brighton, he was about Eddie and eyeing his new role performing in Parliament. 

Yesterday Izzard lost in Brighton, coming second to Tom Gray, a local musician, in his bid to be selected. You have to wonder how he feels at not being embraced by a city so diverse and inclusive. Could it be that it is just too difficult for the party members to believe he is politically committed to the area or is he simply hard for them to like with his insincere track record? I don’t imagine he has considered this. He has released no statement as yet. A toe-curling article by Sean O’Grady of the Independent ponders that Eddie is, “just too nice and kind and too beautiful a personality to be a Labour MP” and that he is “such a beautiful person, inside and out, she can’t really want to fade away on some select committee”.

I don’t agree with him. Despite Sean’s dismissal of political service as dull and irrelevant, I suspect that Izzard is probably bored by the prospect of his fireplace and slippers. Entitled, wealthy men need new shiny things to play with, and, as they deny old age, invariably look around for the exclusive and elusive things they don’t yet have. Not much is as exclusive and elusive as a seat in government. What to give the man who has everything? Why lady things of course, and a seat in the Commons. He’s already been everywhere he can, now he wants to be where he can’t. I would love him to keep banging on that door and being told no. 

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