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Opinion The citizens of Tunbridge Wells may not have been disgusted, but a few will quite possibly have been spluttering into their cornflakes Friday morning at the news that a well-known director of adult films will be standing as a parliamentary candidate for a nearby Kent constituency.

Anna Arrowsmith – better known to afficionadoes of a certain sort of film as Anna Span – actually lives in Tunbridge Wells, and has been selected to stand on behalf of the the Lib Dems for Gravesham, just a few miles down the road.

Her selection has already excited a certain sort of media coverage, and those looking for a quick blast of smut are welcome to take a look at a listing of some of the recent films produced by her production company, "Easy on the Eye" (NSFW).

Chauvinists beware, however: Anna is not your average porn director. She comes to the business with strong feminist credentials, and set out to produce and direct films from a female perspective. Her aim is to focus on women enjoying sex – as opposed to reinforcing male stereotypes about how women are supposed to enjoy themselves.

She is therefore a rather less surprising choice of candidate than you might expect.

Speaking to The Register this morning, she suggests that her career makes her well-suited to taking on the hurly-burly of parliamentary life. She has stuck to her guns, making the sort of film that she believes needs to be made in an industry that was not, initially, favourable to her work: she is a female director, in a business previously dominated by male directors. The fact that she has produced over 250 films underlines both an impressive energy on her part and a commitment to following through.

She told us: “I have lived in the real world. I know how to run a business: unlike many in Westminster today, I am not a professional politician.”

Over the last 12 months, she has also scored what most now recognise as an impressive victory over the fuddy-duddies of the BBFC, who both claimed that there was no such thing as female ejaculation (they say it’s really urination) and that if it exists it’s obscene anyway.

Critics in organisations such as Feminists against Censorship – a group that Anna has also been a member of for many years – objected to what they saw as a double standard on the part of the film establishment, nodding through imagery that exalted male fantasy, while denying female experience.

All this background means that if elected, Anna is likely to be one of the first MPs prepared to talk openly and insightfully about matters of sexuality. While the last decade has seen a great deal of legislation about sex, there has been barely a squeak of dissent by elected members, just in case they offend middle England. Time and time again, it has been left to the Lords to inject any alternative perspective into debate.

Anna is well aware of the way that the media are likely to focus on her candidacy. She says: “I have hidden nothing. I told the central party everything before putting myself forward as a candidate.”

As for her electorate, she adds: “Don’t judge me by the industry as a whole. I have gone into the porn industry with a view to changing it and making it more female-friendly.

“I have spent years campaigning for equal opportunities for female workers and this has given me an excellent experience for the coming campaign.

“I am a campaigner. I am a natural fighter.”

Whatever the outcome, her involvement has brightened up an election campaign that is already starting to get bogged down in the heavyweight spin of party machinery. Gravesham looks like being an interesting constituency to watch.

Bootnote

At the last election, Gravesham was a highly marginal constituency, returning to Conservatives from Labour on a swing of 6.3 per cent. Conservative MP Adam Holloway currently holds it with a vote of 43.7 per cent. Labour took 42.2 per cent. The Lib Dems were third with 10.7 per cent. ®

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