PROFILE: Dave Dobbs – I'll let people vote on every issue via social media
David Clensy meets the left-field mayoral candidate who is bringing some colour to the proceedings
Name: Dave Dobbs (real name David Field)
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Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, May 26 2013
Birthplace: Lewes, Sussex
How long lived in Bristol: I’m a traveller – I’ve stayed in Bristol periodically since I was 18, but only got on the electoral roll here earlier this year.
Job: Writer, puppeteer, former mechanic
Marital status: Single
Religion: Church of the SubGenius
Secondary School: Longhill High School, Falmer, Sussex
Have you ever been a member of a political party? The Free Party
City or Rovers fan? Neither – I’m a Brighton supporter.
NOT many of the candidates for the role of elected mayor would start a conversation in the way Dave Dobbs does as we sit down with a cup of coffee in a Stokes Croft cafe.
“God gave me a vision of the apocalypse,” he tells me. “Strange though it may sound.”
It doesn’t sound that strange under the circumstances – this is Stokes Croft, and Dave – a mechanic turned puppeteer and writer – turned up on his pink rickshaw a few moments before, with Jeff Wayne’s War of The Worlds blasting at full volume from a sound system buried in the back.
You can’t turn heads in Stokes Croft simply by dressing eccentrically and riding a brightly coloured rickshaw – here to turn heads, you need pure volume.
The 44-year-old hands me a copy of his self-published novel, Laughing Gas – written under his real name, David Field. The title is a reference to the moment the Almighty chose self-confessed drop-out Dave as the channel through which to warn us all of our impending doom.
“I was high on laughing gas at the Reading rock festival in 2006,” he recalls. “That’s when I had this vision of the apocalypse. It was so vivid, it freaked me out so much, that I had a nervous breakdown.”
The experience also had a lasting effect on Dave’s world view – it left him with a preoccupation with the distopian future he had seen in his “vision”, and a passion for political activism based on anti-war convictions.
“I believe we’re about to go to war with Syria and Iran,” he tells me. “And I’m talking about a big war. We’re talking about the beginning of the end. We’re signing our own nuclear death warrants. We are the creators of our own instruments of destruction.”
Dave also goes against the grain from most of his fellow candidates by disagreeing with the idea of an elected mayor in principle – he feels passionately about the “transfer of democratic power” involved in the creation of a single man having this level of power in the city.
“I believe this will involve the handing-over of 60 per cent of Bristolians’ existing democratic rights to a single person – and this is a move that the vast majority of the electorate in Bristol didn’t vote for; such is the state of political apathy when it comes to voting.
“But if we’re going to have an elected mayor, I thought I should at least stand in order to highlight this loss of democratic power. I had wanted to stand in the London mayoral elections for the same reason – but couldn’t afford the £10,000 fee.”
Dave, who dropped out of school at 14, has a touch mayoral heritage in his family – his grandfather, a well-respected local councillor, once wore the mayoral chain of office in his home town of Lewes.
“I was born on the site of the battlefield where the English won their first democratic rights against the barons in 1264,” he says. “That’s why I feel so passionately that we should be reticent when it comes to giving some of these powers away.
“If I was elected I would essentially hand my powers back to the people – I would run a pure democracy, in which everyone in the city had the chance to vote on every issue via social media polls.”
Since the age of 18, Dave has lived as a “traveller” – sleeping in the back of a van, and using his pink rickshaw as his main form of local transport – if elected he would seek to replace plans for a rapid transport system, with a greater network of cycle paths.
“I’ve lived between Brighton, Bristol and London for a long time,” he says. “It’s what I call the anarchist triangle – they’re three great cities, with great radical communities, but Bristol is the coolest.
“The great shame about Bristol is that it has this economy that relies so heavily on the arms industry. I think we should lead the way as a city of peace, as a truly sustainable city, which doesn’t live on the back of war and destruction. That’s why people should vote for me in November 15.”