He’s Voting For King Arthur

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  April 27, 2010 — 14 Comments

Roy Mayall at the Guardian seems ready to vote for Druid leader King Arthur Pendragon (no, not that Arthur Pendragon), running to become an independent MP in Salisbury, as the May elections loom.

“One of the counts I will be most interested in following on election night will be the one down in Salisbury, where the ever-colourful King Arthur Pendragon is standing. You’ve got to love him: a man in a dress who rides a motorbike and carries a dirty big sword called Excalibur around … He’s a sort of wayward son of the Druid movement – the armed proletarian wing – with a taste in wild women and flashy silver jewellery and a kind of persistent stubbornness that is almost Churchillian in its scope. I think there may be other candidates, but I’ve already forgotten who they are.”

Pendragon has been a perennial political candidate for well over a decade now, and while he’s outperformed the BNP, he’s never gotten close to actually getting elected. Many of Pendragon’s political forays stem from his quest to have regulations concerning Stonehenge changed, and to advocate for its protection.

The Guardian profile comes right when writer CJ Stone’s autobiography of Arthur Uther Pendragon is being re-released, with a sequel in the works. In a recent interview, Stone talks about what makes Pendragon such a compelling figure to those covering national politics.

“It’s the name that has the magic. The name is resonant of so many things. For a start, it represents something ancient in the British landscape and in the British psyche: something real and authentic. So what Arthur does is to challenge the modern world – this criminal world of corporate irresponsibility – from the position of something more ancient, more authentic, more true. True justice as opposed to fake justice. Real truth, real honour. So when the man, Arthur, calls upon the name he is activating some deep reality which calls us all to rise up and challenge the corporate takeover of our world and to get back to our deeper selves.

No, he has to be Arthur, otherwise it doesn’t make sense. Otherwise he’s just a politician. It’s like when he stands for election. He’s got this keen political and legal brain. He’s very bright, and he could easily be a politician. If he wasn’t going round calling himself King Arthur, if he had a shave and joined some political party – maybe the Green Party – you could even imagine him getting himself elected. But this is the point. The whole political world is fake. Politicians are fake. Political parties are fake. They’ll say anything to get elected. They lie to you. And then you have this guy who says he’s King Arthur – claiming to be some imaginary King, some legendary figure from a mythological past that might not ever have existed – and he’s more real than they are. He’s not fake. He’s not lying. He’s never going to get elected, of course, but he’s there, offering the alternative, this grubby biker-king who lives in a caravan on the outskirts of Amesbury and who smells of damp and decay, who is simply not tempted by money or the corporate world, who is living his life according to his beliefs and not according to someone else’s greedy agenda.”

Of course, not everyone who’s met King Arthur is under his spell, and he’s come under some criticism from Pagans in the UK for his lifestyle and methods, but he’s also managed to impress many skeptical Pagans who thought he might be simply a joke.

“Maybe Arthur is a bit of a nutter, but he is an intelligent, good-hearted and compassionate man (I’ve met him) who has more activist spirit in his little finger than the majority of the pagans I have met have in their entire bodies, and that includes me. So when people who mock him are ready to get arrested multiple times in service to a cause (a cause intended to raise awareness of the modern pagan movement, among other things), maybe they’ll get their names in the news, too.”

So, in an election where the normal Tory-Labour trade-off is looking to be up-ended by Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats, who knows? Maybe Salisbury will elect a King.

Jason Pitzl-Waters