Tributes have been paid to a former Bristol city councillor who refused to vote for himself – and lost his seat after a dead heat.
Spud Murphy, who died on Saturday, February 15, aged 82, was Avonmouth ward Tory member from 2002 to 2010, when he failed to be reelected for a third term by the drawing of lots.
The episode was revealed for the first time by Conservative Cllr Richard Eddy who shared memories of the honorary alderman and 2012 Bristol mayoral independent candidate with fellow members at a council meeting on Tuesday (February 25), followed by a minute’s silence.
Cllr Eddy told full council : “I will divulge a story which has not come to light before – Spud was always incredibly adverse to voting for himself.
“In fact, he never voted for himself in his last local election in 2010, when he and Labour’s Doug Naysmith got exactly the same number of votes.
“The winning candidate was determined by the toss of a coin and, as history records, Spud lost.”
The two candidates remarkably both polled 1,878 votes and could only be split in a tie-break.
Cllr Eddy said: “The expression ‘they were a real character’ is usually overused today, but it is certainly true of Spud Murphy.
“Spud was a true one-off. Born into humble circumstances, he was hardworking and created a business empire.
“He was also generous and utterly devoted to Avonmouth, and I am proud to count him as a good friend.
“An ex-member of the Merchant Navy, he was famously in Cuba at the time of JFK’s standoff with the Soviets.
“Spud used his money to support the people of Avonmouth ward.
“Although he could appear bluff, Spud had a heart of gold and he was very humane.
“When he discovered some homeless eastern Europeans living in a barn he owned, he moved body and soul to get them suitably rehoused.”
Lord mayor Jos Clark said: “I really liked Spud. He was the most un-political person I’ve ever met in my life.
“He was a really splendid fellow.
“That man had pockets that were so deep with sweets, my son nearly lost all of his teeth as a result.
“You would go down to the car park on the way home and he would give you a bottle of gin from his boot.
“He was a delightful, funny gentleman, a man of the people.”
Labour Cllr Mark Bradshaw said: “He was totally dedicated to his ward and his constituents.
“The circumstances in 2010 when he lost his seat, most people would have been very upset about that publicly, and I remember him accepting that result with good grace. That was a mark of his character.”
Green Cllr Fi Hance said: “Quite apart from his unique hairdo, he was a really friendly and welcoming presence.
“This chamber was duller without him and Bristol will be duller without him too.”
Lib Dem Cllr Gary Hopkins said: “Spud was very well liked.
“As far as Spud was concerned, graffiti and street art were all the same – Banksy, the lot, it had to go.
“What tells you a lot about the man was afterwards when we arranged the Banksy exhibition which was massively important for Bristol when the economy wasn’t in the greatest of shape and it brought a lot of business to Bristol.
“He looked at that and thought ‘yes, it’s different,’ and when the mural across the road was vandalised, he was the first person up on a cherry-picker cleaning it off and making certain that the city didn’t suffer.
“That’s a great testimony to the man and his ability to do the right thing.”
Spud served on several Bristol City Council committees, including licensing, public safety & protection and development control.
The renowned campaigner who undertook unpaid community work was also a member of the Lower Severn Drainage Board, Severnside Sirens Trust Limited and the Bristol Port Welfare Committee.
For many years, Spud was a school governor at the Portway School, now Oasis Academy Brightstowe.