Bez: noted dancer, maraca shaker, and one seventh of Manchester’s greatest cultural export (arguably). He taught the world to dance in the late 1980s and now he plans to take on the political elite.

When I first heard about Bez’s (real name Mark Berry) intention to stand as a candidate for MP in Salford on an independent, anti-fracking platform, I, like many others I imagine, spat my early morning cup of tea all over my laptop screen in a combination of amusement and confusion. How could Bez – a man known for taking pills, being a token member of a band and getting his taxi done up on Pimp My Ride – know anything about the current state of the UK’s political system? And more importantly, why did he care?

This all changed at his recent talk held at Hope Mill in Ancoats as part of the Politika exhibition.

Humbly introducing himself to the group, Bez started slowly, but as his confidence grew and his voice became stronger, the passion he has, not just for the anti-fracking movement, but for politics in general, became clear. What surprised me most was the incredible amount of knowledge he has on the matter.

He detailed his own participation in the anti-fracking movement and how he was galvanised when, after assuming the battle against the practice had been won, he woke up to the news that there were plans to drill at his nearby Barton Moss. He then proceeded to inform us that it is the local council that decides whether fracking can or can’t take place and he encouraged each and every one of us to contact our local representatives to implore them to stand against the invasion of our land by this environmentally damaging process. His finest point was when he asked why, at anti-fracking debates in council halls up and down the country, are there no voices from the pro-fracking community desperate to be heard? Their silence seems to say a lot.

Next were his views on TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) and the threat he and many others see it posing on fiscal independence, the powers for governments to resist corporate lawsuits and, of course, the NHS.

The support he has received for his anti-fracking stance has led to him creating his own political party, The Reality Party. With a political party, however, come policies. Alongside maintaining an anti-fracking stance he’s calling for the essentials of life to be free. He proposes free drinking water, free renewable energy, free food through permaculture, free public transport and, of course, maintaining a free NHS. After having spent recent years living on communes up and down the country he believes this is an achievable reality, but running a country on these beliefs is a far more difficult task than running a small collective of likeminded individuals, and it is here that one starts to question the feasibility of his idealistic plans.

However, whether his plans for free energy and food are achievable or not, you cannot dispute that he truly cares about those in our society who are struggling. His policies are aimed at helping the underprivileged and his initial opposition to the fracking plans at Barton Moss was grounded in a love of the people of Salford and a refusal to allow their lives to be blighted by this practice.

The passion he has is intoxicating and listening to him speak you find yourself quite quickly getting swept along. He also genuinely wants to shake up the current political system, but not as a certain Mr Farage is reportedly doing, by relying on millions of pounds from disgruntled conservative fundraisers, or by praying on the fears of ordinary individuals, or by luring MPs from other parties to his side, but instead through positive action and a legitimate want to protect the hardworking people of this country from exploitation by capitalist greed. And isn’t this supposedly already the job of our elected representatives?

You can say a lot of things about Mark Berry. You might say he’s crazy, but is he any more crazy than an ex-city worker claiming to be the voice of the people? Or a Labour Party committed to cutting benefits and making life harder for the poor? Or a Conservative Party promising to tear up the human rights act? In the current, crazy political climate, Bez might be the only voice of sanity we have.

David Ewing