A Green Party candidate in next month’s General Election says “he does not expect to be elected in his lifetime – but that’s not the point”.
June 8 will be Ashley Gunstock’s fifth Parliamentary election as the Green hopeful for Leyton and Wanstead.
The 60-year-old has gradually increased his share of the vote since he started running in the area, with 1,030 in 2001 (3.1 per cent) and 2,974 (7.3 per cent) two years ago.
He has also taken a stab at running in Finchley and Golders Green, two GLA elections as the candidate for Havering and Redbridge, and a handful of council seat races.
But despite never managing to finish better than third, the Wanstead resident and Green Party veteran claims he is not “in it to win it”.
He said: “I don’t stand to win – I’m not expecting the public will get some flash of light and suddenly see that our policies make sense.
“But we’re really breaking into the mainstream now, and the more Green MPs there are, the more the other politicians will have to start listening to us.
“I don’t care who puts our policies through, I don’t care if it’s not me.
“I don’t expect to be elected in my lifetime, but that’s not the point – this is a long game.”
After a spell playing a policeman on The Bill in the 1980s, Mr Gunstock joined the Greens in 1989 and has been campaigning for them ever since.
He now teaches children who are patients at the Royal London Hospital and says the NHS and education are at the forefront of the party’s priorities.
He said: “In my job I can see what’s happening in both sectors first hand.
“Our population is growing at a considerable rate and yet our health service is being downgraded. It’s ridiculous.
“If the Government close King George Hospital’s A&E both Redbridge and Waltham Forest will suffer”.
In terms of education he wants to move away from the Tories’ “means tested” approach and offer a more holistic one.
He also wants to scrap grammar schools, academies, free schools, and faith schools, claiming “we’re all in this together, so that’s how education should be as well”.
A devoted Remainer, Mr Gunstock says the Greens want to “make the best out of a bad situation” when the UK leaves the European Union. But if the majority party’s negotiations are not up to scratch, they will advocate for a second referendum.
He says the Greens are focusing on keeping the “less profitable” aspects of the EU for Britain’s benefit, including human rights legislation, refugee assurances, and restrictions on climate change.
When asked what the Greens can offer to Leyton and Wanstead the other parties cannot, he replied: “A better standard of living, a healthier lifestyle, and a safer environment”.
He said: “Neither Labour nor the Tories are offering anything positive – they’re both a mess.
“In Leyton and Wanstead we’ve got a Brexiteer representing people who mainly voted to remain.
“And the Lib Dems are just the ultimate opportunists.”
Ashley Gunstock will take on Labour incumbent John Cryer, Conservative Laura Farris, and Liberal Democrat Ben Sims on June 8.