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Don’s Chesterfield tussle with Tony Benn

Don Butler, from Thame - stood against Tony Benn in the 1984 Chesterfield by-election

Don Butler, from Thame - stood against Tony Benn in the 1984 Chesterfield by-election

A furniture firm boss who stood against Tony Benn in a bid to sell more sofas has spoken about his brush with the famous politician.

Labour stalwart and renowned diarist Mr Benn died last week aged 89.

And Don Butler, 70, who went on to serve as Mayor of Thame four times, has spoken of his tongue in cheek Chesterfield by-election race, which saw him get beaten by Benn by nearly 25,000 votes.

The businessman, who ran Donald Butler Upholstery, said: “I came ninth out of 17 candidates with my Buy Your Chesterfield In Thame Party.

“One newspaper said that Sachi and Sachi couldn’t have done a better job, because 
every night I was advertising my business on the news.

“I met Mr Benn the day before the election and asked him what he thought about peripheral candidates like me.

“I told him good luck, and he said that the best thing I could to bring him good luck was to withdraw.

“But he got about 25,000 votes and I had 24 so it wasn’t that much of battle.”

A number of unusual candidates took part in the by-election alongside Don.

These included Heartbeat actor Bill Maynard, and a party called Reclassify The Sun Newspaper As A Comic.

But it is his brush with Mr Benn that had the greatest impact on Mr Butler, who has now retired and closed the firm.

He said: “I wasn’t into his political ideals but he was a great orator and a very genuine man.

“I believed what he said.”

 

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