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Nick Clegg defends former porn director standing for Lib Dems

Anna Arrowsmith's previous profession is not my cup of tea, says Lib Dem leader, hailing her as no cardboard cut-out Westminster politician

Anna Arrowsmith, the Lib Dem candidate for Gravesham.

Anna Arrowsmith, the Lib Dem candidate for Gravesham. Photograph: Easy on the Eye Productions/PA

A former porn director who has been selected as a parliamentary candidate for the Liberal Democrats would be a passionate campaigner for her local area, Nick Clegg insisted today.

Clegg said Anna Arrowsmith's previous profession was "not exactly my cup of tea", and she was certainly no "cardboard cut-out Westminster politician".

But he said it was important that "people like her" who care about their local areas put themselves forward.

Clegg told GMTV he had "just read the reports" about Arrowsmith, who is managing director of adult entertainment company Easy on the Eye Productions and will stand for election in Gravesham, Kent.

Clegg was speaking ahead of the Lib Dems' weekend spring conference, which begins in Birmingham tonight as the party seeks to rally activists ahead of the general election.

The party unveiled its election slogan, "Change that works for you. Building a fairer Britain", as Clegg promised there would be "no backroom deals" with other parties in preparation for the possibility of hung parliament.

The past career of Arrowsmith, a prospective parliamentary who works under the pseudonym Anna Span, came under the spotlight today as Clegg was asked to give his views on her career, which has seen her direct more than 250 raunchy scenes, as well as write a book to guide couples in how to make homemade porn.

Clegg told GMTV: "It's not exactly my cup of tea what she's been doing before she has put herself forward in parliament but I also think it's really important that people like her who really care a lot about her local area are encouraged to come into politics. You can't accuse her of being a cardboard cut-out Westminster politician."

Asked if he had an issue with somebody involved in the pornography industry representing his party, he said: "I don't know exactly what she's been doing in the past. She's not done anything illegal and she cares passionately about her area. She has been chosen to be the candidate for that area. Let's see. I think all the indications are that she's going to be a really, really strong voice for that local area."

Yesterday, the 38-year-old, who is married and lives with her husband Tim and their dogs in Groombridge, near Tunbridge Wells, insisted she was ready to win the seat at the general election, which is currently held by Adam Holloway for the Conservatives.

Arrowsmith faces a tough fight in a constituency, where the Lib Dems trailed in third place on just 10.7% of the vote in 2005 and where political watchers expect a tough two-way fight in a seat where Labour had just 654 fewer votes than the Conservatives at the last poll.

Arrowsmith, who has an MA in philosophy, said she was spurred into standing for election by the MPs' expenses scandal and a belief that women are under-represented in parliament.

She said: "If people don't know what I do for a living then they would never know. The local party and the local people who I have so far met have seen that I'm very driven."

She added: "When people get to see me, they will realise that I'm used to project managing and that I'm driven to achieve change rather than just promising it."

Named best director at the 2008 and 2009 UK Adult Film and Television Awards, she describes herself as a keen campaigner for women's rights and anti-censorship issues and says she has spent 12 years trying to make the adult industry more female-friendly.

Her first commercially-released programme was on Television X, titled Eat Me/Keep Me, which led to further X-rated shows and her becoming chair of the Adult Industry Trade Association.

Clegg has pledged to double the number of Lib Dem MPs within two general elections. The party currently has 63 MPs.

Clegg, who will address Lib Dems at the conference rally this evening and make a keynote speech on Sunday, said today there would be "no backroom deals" with the other political parties ahead of the general election.

With recent polls suggesting the country is heading for a hung parliament at the election, expected to take place on 6 May, Clegg repeated the four tests he would set for Labour and the Conservatives if they were to seek his party's support He said whichever party had the clearer mandate from the voters would have the "moral right" to govern, "either on its own or with others".

"There are no backroom deals between the political parties," he said.

"If a party has got more support and has got a clearer mandate from the British people than any other party, even if they don't have an absolute majority, then I think we live in a democracy, that party has got the moral right to seek to govern, either on its own or with others.

"I've been much clearer than Gordon Brown or David Cameron in saying that, as far as the Liberal Democrats are concerned, in terms of us exercising our influence we will focus on the really big things that matter to us."

The four big issues for the Lib Dems are fairer taxes, so people do not pay tax on the first £10,000 they earn; Better schools, with more one-to-one tuition and smaller class sizes; making sure that our economy is no longer "held hostage" by the banks; and clean, fair politics in the wake of the expenses scandal, including giving people the right to sack their MPs if they have been shown to be corrupt.

The Lib Dem leader said his party was delivering a "copper-bottomed guarantee" that whatever happens in the election, "the one thing you can predict is that the Liberal Democrats will deliver those four steps to a fairer Britain".

Clegg was able to boast a new addition to the Lib Dem ranks today when former Tory MEP Edward McMillan-Scott joined the Liberal Democrats.

The MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber lost the Tory whip last year after he clashed with David Cameron over the Tory leader's decision to remove his MEPs from the centre-right European People's party and set up a new group, European Conservatives and Reformists, with controversial allies from eastern Europe.


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  • lukekaizen lukekaizen

    12 Mar 2010, 10:43AM

    I also think it's really important that people like her who really care a lot about her local area

    How can she care a lot about Gravesham if she lives in leafy Groombridge? They're very different parts of the county with very different issues.

  • Bluejil Bluejil

    12 Mar 2010, 10:49AM

    Well, porn is an industry, might be one of the only industries left in England making a profit. Which makes her a business woman, and by all accounts, considering her awards, a good one. So England has a choice, live in draconian times or move forward and think with minds on issues that matter.

    Besides, politics IS porn.

  • demetriosdowland demetriosdowland

    12 Mar 2010, 10:50AM

    This comment has been removed by a moderator. Replies may also be deleted.
  • fortyniner fortyniner

    12 Mar 2010, 11:11AM

    The English are so coy and hypocritical about sex. What does it matter what this lady does for a living as long as it's legal? She's been a successful businesswoman. Enough said.

    We need more people in Parliament who have done and seen things in the real world. The problem with modern politics is too many careerists who have done nothing else. No wonder they make crap decisions.

    I wish this lady well. Good on her for having a go.

  • dFelton dFelton

    12 Mar 2010, 11:18AM

    I love porn, I don't get why people in britain are so repressed.

    Oh wait, I know, it's because freedom of speech and freedom of expression are not considered fundamental rights in the UK.

    Hope this lady is the harbinger of a new generation of governors and law makers with better attitudes towards civil liberties.

  • angryhungry angryhungry

    12 Mar 2010, 11:30AM

    Is porn more, or less, socially acceptable as a career these days in comparison with investment banking or coming up through the ranks of political researcher? We don't seem to object to anyone from that background.

    Anyway, the Commons seems like the appropriate place for her since she's used to dealing with c*cks. She'll never come first etc. etc.

  • UKhasgonetohell UKhasgonetohell

    12 Mar 2010, 11:32AM

    To be honest I don't care what her business was, end of the day what she is is a successful businesswoman. We need people who know how to run things and know how business works to get this nation back on its feet. Cuts can only go so far there needs to be a public sector (albeit a far smaller more efficient one) but its growth in the private sector and creation of jobs for the public sector workers made redundant by cuts. Good businessmen/women will be able to put forward good ideas to help business succeed.

  • angryhungry angryhungry

    12 Mar 2010, 12:00PM

    @Ukhasgonetohell

    Successful she may be in her industry - do you really think that she's got enough business acumen to run the country?

    Its my guess that her business turnsover around the same as a reasonable sized corner shop - so either anyone off the street could turn the fortunes of the country around, or she'll be hopelessly out of her depth.

  • mondoallegro mondoallegro

    12 Mar 2010, 12:06PM

    A little more about what Arrowsmith does for a living:
    1. She has a regular weekly column in the Sunday Sport (for all you non-brits out there the Sport is a most of the most racist and misogynist publications in Britain)
    2. There's nothing particularly "feminist" about the type of porn she produces. Here's a summary from one of her films: "A&O Department is set in a hospital, run by a bunch of horny female doctors, nurses, researchers and dentists. Their sole aim in life is to get it on with their patients, male and female.", The reviews goes on to write: "Despite feeling a little turned off by those things (especially the ass-to-mouth? EW!) I enjoyed the movie." Her 2004 series "Play the Slut 1-4", is described on her promotion site thus: "Lucy and Janka have often joked about 'playing the prostitute' - how would it feel to behave in a slutty and dirty way? Lucy called Janka's bluff and said she would pay her £10 for her services - but only as long as she remained in character (which she did by demanding £20 quid!) Lucy then picked up Janka next to the bins, on a dingy side street in Notting Hill and took her back for some dirty sex, next time Lucy wants to play the slut!

  • OldBristolian OldBristolian

    12 Mar 2010, 12:12PM

    She said: "If people don't know what I do for a living then they would never know".

    With that kind of insight and reasoning she could go far.

    Then again at least she's in the right party. As her leader commented:

    "It's not exactly my cup of tea what she's been doing before she has put herself forward?."

    Followed by:

    "I don't know exactly what she's been doing in the past."

    And then:

    "She's not done anything illegal?."

    He sounds a little confused; does he know or does he not know and if he doesn't know how can he be sure it was legal?

    I suggest he goes through the ins and outs of her previous career in a bit more detail.

  • angryhungry angryhungry

    12 Mar 2010, 12:20PM

    @ OldBristolian

    Well said.

    Another thing, what happened to selection committees etc? 'She has put herself forward' - I quite fancy being an MP this week, I think I'll just put myself forward for a constituency.

    Surely if nobody at Lib Dem HQ got wind of this before she was put forward, someone ought to be reviewing their CV. I don't think I like the sound of a party that could hold the balance of power, that are so ill informed about their candidates.

  • xt4routh xt4routh

    12 Mar 2010, 12:23PM

    Anna Span is just doing it for the publicity. She's got no chance of winning the seat but her company might just sell a few more films as a result of all the media attention this is getting. I suppose you could call this good business acumen - using the General Election for profit. Expect a vacuous article from Rowan Pelling to appear in the DT or for whoever she writes for now sometime soon.

  • vadid vadid

    12 Mar 2010, 12:34PM

    "She's not done anything illegal?."

    He sounds a little confused; does he know or does he not know and if he doesn't know how can he be sure it was legal?

    You've added teh question mark which isn't in the Guardian article above and reading the phrase Cleggy made it as a statement not a question.

  • JayElSee JayElSee

    12 Mar 2010, 12:39PM

    What's wrong with being a porn director? We need more MPs who have lived real lives and done proper jobs before they where politicans.

    I want a parliament with people from all walks of life, including people who have been in prison, people who have done drugs, people from the working classes, middles classes and the upper classes! People who've been on the dole and people who where born into wealth and riches.Why should we be ruled by a parliament that doesn't represent our population as a whole?

  • openhonesty openhonesty

    12 Mar 2010, 12:45PM

    Why should this be a problem for people? She's a human who cares enough about where she lives to stand up for her political beliefs. There's not that many people that are prepared to do that.
    Doesnt matter to me about her other work, I would be more interested in hearing her political ideas..
    Nothing wrong with a female porn director, standing for election.
    I'm female, and yes I watch porn .

  • danphobic danphobic

    12 Mar 2010, 12:51PM

    Bloody hell, who cares. Porn is not (yet) illegal. If she is a good politician and she will work hard then that should be the criteria that she is judged on. We are supposed to be a secular democracy, aren't we?

  • kvlx387 kvlx387

    12 Mar 2010, 12:52PM

    On first thoughts, good to have someone different in Parliament.

    On second thoughts, her past will make it awkward for her when a range of issues are debated.

    There are probably people who, sadly, as a result of their career choices, will not be suitable for Parliament however talented they are.

  • mondoallegro mondoallegro

    12 Mar 2010, 1:00PM

    @openhonesty
    There are many people who are prepared to stand up for their political beliefs, and almost everyone cares about where they live. Her "other work" should matter a great deal since it has a direct bearing on her political outlook. For example, she writes for a publication that has called for "pakis" to be sent home, and regards women as "sluts". If someone writes for the Sunday Sport then that is precisely a political position, namely one that is aligned with the extreme right.

  • angryhungry angryhungry

    12 Mar 2010, 1:03PM

    @ openhonesty

    They all say they care about where they live. And she doesnt even live there yet.

    As you say, there is nothing wrong with a female porn director standing for election, but I think that most people won't buy the line that she's a successful business woman.

    And, in a time when the standing of Parliament and democracy in the UK has taken a severe battering recently, a porn director isn't really the kind of aspirational career that most middle-Englanders would want in power, I'd have thought.

  • mondoallegro mondoallegro

    12 Mar 2010, 1:05PM

    On second thoughts - she'd probably fit right in with contemporary English politics (as some here have already pointed out), since looking at her film repertoire:
    a. She seems to know all about "ass to mouth" techniques
    b. She understands about "playing the prostitute"

  • nacom nacom

    12 Mar 2010, 1:14PM

    Since most of the people vying for my vote are undesirable, fat, greedy, filthy minded losers most of whom couldnt get proper jobs in the private sector if they tried - I think its a great idea and id like to see more of it - a lot more of it.

  • TapirTapir TapirTapir

    12 Mar 2010, 1:21PM

    Surely anyone who writes a column for the sunday sport has stooped so low and has no principles that they aren't fit to represent a constituency in parliament. er....

  • OldBristolian OldBristolian

    12 Mar 2010, 1:22PM

    @vadid
    You've added teh question mark which isn't in the Guardian article above and reading the phrase Cleggy made it as a statement not a question.

    Fair point - that was an accident - I only meant to add a ? after my bit saying how does he know it was legal?

    I'd edit it if I could.

  • openhonesty openhonesty

    12 Mar 2010, 1:27PM

    I've never read the sport newspaper, so I dont know anything about that, but by its description its not something I could ever support.

    If she did get electected it doesnt mean that its aspirational to be a porn director...at all. John Major left school with out much in the way of qualification..is that aspirational too?!

    I also dont know how to do the reply to comments thing on here yet, so bear with me!

  • Chriswr Chriswr

    12 Mar 2010, 1:33PM

    @xt4routh

    Anna Span is just doing it for the publicity. She's got no chance of winning the seat but her company might just sell a few more films as a result of all the media attention this is getting.

    That would be a hell of a lot of work just for a very small amount of publicity. And presumably she has been a member of the Lib Dems for a while and been active in local politics to even get selected.

  • franknhonest franknhonest

    12 Mar 2010, 1:36PM

    "I love porn, I don't get why people in britain are so repressed."

    i am sure you love porn
    but i dont think that the women who are forced to make it love it

    Nobody is forced to make it, they do so of their own volition. This is just another rubbish feminist excuse used to accuse men of exploiting women.

  • mondoallegro mondoallegro

    12 Mar 2010, 1:37PM

    @openhonesty -

    I've never read the sport newspaper, so I dont know anything about that

    I found one of Anna Spans articles for you, here you are:
    http://www.dailysport.co.uk/view.asp?ID=11

  • mondoallegro mondoallegro

    12 Mar 2010, 1:41PM

    @frankhonest

    Nobody is forced to make it, they do so of their own volition.


    The degree to which you are uninformed is astounding. There have been dozens of well researched books detailing how women who have been forced into prostitution have also been coerced into participating in pornography.

  • Chriswr Chriswr

    12 Mar 2010, 1:41PM

    @demetriosdowland

    i am sure you love porn

    but i dont think that the women who are forced to make it love it

    WTF? You really think there women in Britain who are forced to make porn?

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