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Topic: Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re: Someone with a brain speaks out
Posted by: Vanessa Smith
Date/Time: 10/05/15 18:47:00

Garden centre owner's '10% tax for Tory voters' sign goes viral

Matt Woodruff says he stands by anti-Tory views on his shop’s blackboard in Lewes, East Sussex, despite some criticism from customers

Matt Woodruff with his famous sign outside his plant shop
Matt Woodruff said he had been sent abusive emails after his anti-Tory blackboard message went viral.

The owner of a small garden centre in East Sussex whose anti-Tory blackboard went viral on social media says he has no regrets, despite admitting it could put him out of business.

Matt Woodruff, the owner of Woodruffs Yard in Lewes, said he was moved to vent his political views on his shop’s blackboard after the Conservatives took the local seat that had been occupied by the Lib Dem former Home Office minister Norman Baker.

The sign proposes a “Tory tax” of 10% on any customer who voted Conservative as one of the “‘tough’ decisions I need to make to ‘balance the books’ under your preferred government”.

The sign also says Ukip voters should “shop elsewhere”.

Pictures of the sign have been retweeted hundreds of times and posted from a number of different accounts on Twitter.

The sign in Woodruffs Yard
The sign in Woodruffs Yard. Photograph: Nicky Bryant/Matt Woodruff

So far, no one has paid his “Tory tax”, Woodruff said. “Only one woman has told me she voted Tory – and that was after she paid so I couldn’t add on the tax,” he said. “Obviously that’s a joke anyway, and she was very friendly about it.

“The only bad reaction I’ve had were one Tory couple and a couple of people from Ukip,” he added. “I don’t really care about the repercussions. I don’t earn a fortune and this might be the death of my business but so be it. Sometimes you have to just stand up and say what you believe in.”

The sign has transformed his small plant store into a hub of political conversation, Woodruff said, with many visiting his shop to talk about the new direction of the left.

“A lot of us feel that Labour lost because they were not left-wing enough, we think it would be a mistake for them to become more centrist,” the father-of-two said.

“My family are very pleased, my son especially. We’re a socialist household, and we feel it’s time to stand up.”

Woodruff, who has owned his shop off the high street for seven years, said he had been sent abusive emails but had been struck by a generally “very positive” response online.

On the local website Lewes Forum, one former customer wrote: “Over the years I have spent a significant amount on plants from Matt Woodruff … Sadly no more. His blatant anti-Tory message displayed today has cost him my custom. If it was meant to be ‘tongue in cheek’ it has badly misfired.”


“It’s my first experience of trolling,” he said of his critics. “It has been far more reactionary [on local websites] and I’ve had emails to my personal account which have been pretty horrendous.”

He described the town as “pretty lefty-liberal” but said he believed much of the Tory vote had come from the surrounding Sussex countryside and he and his neighbours had been “shocked” at Thursday’s outcome.

“Myself and many others have been left a bit shell-shocked by the result, we thought that Norman Baker would keep his seat, even with a decreased majority,” he said.

Woodruff said he wanted to take a stand rather than retreat into despair. “I didn’t just want to be a recluse, I had to vent how I was feeling,” he said. “I do often write on the blackboards, I like it as a medium and it always gets attention.”

Though Woodruff said he was surprised and pleased to see his blackboard go viral, but said he was surprised that the Sun had sent a reporter to his home within hours.

“I initially said I didn’t want to speak to them but they convinced me and I told them what I thought,” he said. “I’ll probably be portrayed as a ‘looney-left gardener gone bonkers’ but I don’t care, I won’t read it anyway.”

Entire Thread
TopicDate PostedPosted By
What about the #Edstone?08/05/15 13:51:00 Peter Millman
   Re:What about the #Edstone?08/05/15 13:58:00 Dave Robertson
      Re:Re:What about the #Edstone?08/05/15 14:20:00 Adrian Irving
         Re:Re:Re:What about the #Edstone?08/05/15 18:50:00 Marlene Plimley
            Re:Re:Re:Re:What about the #Edstone?09/05/15 06:55:00 Sam Hearn
               Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:What about the #Edstone?09/05/15 17:16:00 David Giles
                  Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:What about the #Edstone?10/05/15 10:03:00 Steve Taylor
                     Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:What about the #Edstone?10/05/15 14:51:00 Colin Jordan
                        Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:What about the #Edstone?10/05/15 18:10:00 Penny Crocker
                           Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re: Someone with a brain speaks out10/05/15 18:47:00 Vanessa Smith
                              Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re: Someone with a brain speaks out10/05/15 21:04:00 Richard Greenhough
                           Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:What about the #Edstone?10/05/15 19:42:00 Anne England
                              Who is Betty Day?11/05/15 19:13:00 Penny Crocker
                           Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:What about the #Edstone?10/05/15 23:21:00 Pete Mayes
                              Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:What about the #Edstone?10/05/15 23:38:00 Claire Moran
                                 Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:What about the #Edstone?11/05/15 00:08:00 Pete Mayes
                                    Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:What about the #Edstone?11/05/15 14:21:00 Arnold Saxton
                                       Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:What about the #Edstone?11/05/15 14:32:00 Pete Mayes
                                       Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:What about the #Edstone?11/05/15 15:24:00 Richard Greenhough
                                          Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:What about the #Edstone?11/05/15 15:34:00 Pete Mayes
                                             Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:What about the #Edstone?11/05/15 15:59:00 Richard Greenhough
                                                Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:What about the #Edstone?11/05/15 16:03:00 Pete Mayes
                                                   Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:What about the #Edstone?11/05/15 16:59:00 Sam Hearn
                                                      Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:What about the #Edstone?11/05/15 23:29:00 David Giles
                                                         Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:What about the #Edstone?14/05/15 08:10:00 David Giles
                                                            Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:What about the #Edstone?14/05/15 09:52:00 Huw Burford-Taylor

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