New Fathers 4 Justice & Give me back Elmo Sheffield by election

‘I could be king’: Restraining order won’t stop Elmo candidate pledging to fight for Tooting independence

A referendum for Tooting’s independence could be on the cards if the colourful candidate from the ‘Give Me Back Elmo Party’ is elected in next month’s by-election.

If the TootIN/TootOut vote comes out in favour of independence, candidate Bobby ‘Elmo’ Smith, 34,  would rename the state Elmonia, with special passports for all Elmonians.

The political activist from Stevenage, part of splinter group New Fathers 4 Justice, hopes that the people of Tooting will join his ‘power to the puppets’ campaign.

He said: “I could become the king of Elmonia if people wanted me to.”

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THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING: Mr Smith campaigning in Tooting

In the sovereign state of Elmonia, the people would create their own rules, the first of which suggested by Mr Smith would be to outlaw all family courts and cap family solicitors’ wages at £7 an hour.

Mr Smith adopted the name Elmo as it is the product of merging the names of his two daughters together, with whom he has been unable to have regular contact since 2010.

He hopes that by running in the by-election he will be able to bring some publicity to his fight for more rights for fathers.

“There are more laws to protect animals on the way to the slaughter house than there are to protect fathers and children going through the courts,” he said.

As a member of New Fathers 4 Justice, which is not associated with Fathers4Justice UK, Mr Smith has actively campaigned with rooftop protests at Buckingham Palace, Stevenage police station and more recently Boris Johnson’s private home.

Tooting Elmo campaigning
ELMONIANS: Distinctive pink rosettes featuring the Sesame Street favourite stand out from the crowd

On April 18 of this year Mr Smith and a companion, Martin Mathews, 48, staged a protest on the balcony of the then Mayor Boris Johnson’s London house in a bid to promote paternal rights.

Mr Smith, who was dressed as Iron Man, shouted his message through a megaphone and hung banners.

He was arrested and released on bail under the condition that does not make contact with the London Mayor or go within 100 yards of City Hall.

Given the phrasing of the restraining order preventing him from contacting the London Mayor, Mr Smith has been advised that the order carries over to London’s current Mayor Sadiq Khan.

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RESTRAINING ORDER: Mr Smith is banned from contacting the London Mayor

This, of course, could pose a problem should Mr Khan wish support his Labour colleague Rosena Allin-Khan during by-election hustings and the count, although Mr Smith plans to arrange for someone to write to him to explain why he can’t attend.

He said: “I am going to have to say to the returning officer that Sadiq can’t come to the count if he was planning to.

“Although the bail conditions are on me I’m a candidate and he’s not, unless the police want to change the bail conditions.”

Mr Smith handed in his nomination papers and was confirmed as the Give me Back Elmo party’s candidate for the Tooting by-election this week and has already been out campaigning.


MAKING IT OFFICIAL: Handing in nomination papers at Wandsworth Town Hall

This is not his first brush with politics having previously amassed 37 votes when he stood against David Cameron in his constituency Witney in the 2015 general election.

Followed by his candidacy in the Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough by-election earlier this year where he accumulated 58 votes.

Despite the whimsical characters and action hero costumes, Mr Smith carries the serious message of New Fathers 4 Justice that no parent who is fit and willing should ever be denied their right to share equally in the lives of their own children.

He also feels strongly that grandparents should be given a legal status so they can be granted access to their grandchildren by the courts.

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TOOTING PUPPET FRONT: Previous campaigns in Sheffield started Mr Smith’s political career

Mr Smith said: “Not seeing your children is a travesty, there’s no equality for fathers in family law.

“The lack of justice and equality for fathers to see their children is one of the biggest social scandals of our time.

“We want nothing less than a legal presumption of equal contact for a child with their parents if they split up.”

Mr Smith encourages the residents of Tooting to phone or email him with any questions about his candidacy, with all his contact details available on his website.

He hopes that the community will be inspired to join the ‘Tooting puppet front’.