Come on London! Don’t let this happen!
Come on London! Don’t let this happen!
Yesterday, I kept getting twitter messages about “Boris and Torche on tour.” Naturally, I assumed this meant that in order to avoid the homophobic brush, Mr Johnson had been going round Soho with members of the Tory Campaign for Homosexual Equality (which appears to have folded given that I can’t find any evidence of their existence other than an archive). However, it turns out to be a couple of punk bands. Who knew?
Long time readers of this blog will be aware that Quaequam Blog! is a great friend of the English Nationalist movement (and indeed nationalism in general). So it brings me great sadness to have to report to you that a schism has emerged between the English Democrats and their candidate for London Mayor, Matt “fathers4justice” O’Connor:
The problems O’Connor discovered were that there was no party machine in London as promised, no advertising budget as promised, and they were economical with the facts about whether we’d be funded by backers. His recent party election broadcast which he organised also had amendments made without his knowledge.
He also struggled with an organisation that didn’t share his ideas and vision as evidenced in the difference between O’Connor’s official www.voteenglish.org site and the main party site.
On one occasion he was called racist and anti-Semitic by a senior member – a claim O’Connor described as ‘absurd’. He is also profoundly disappointed that they are now deliberately trying to smear him whilst at the same time the party was happy for him to stand.
Said O’Connor this morning, ‘It is sad but inevitable that they are trying to cover up their own internal problems. They did not deliver on their part of the agreement. It is extremely regrettable that this happened at this stage but I cannot stay in the party where people say things like that or where we have no sensible funding. I also had a clear vision to raise the issue of an English Parliament which they didn’t share.’
Nadine Taylor, Matt’s Campaign Manager resigned several weeks ago because she could not work with the level of incompetence within the party. O’Connor recognises now “that I should have listened to her advice”.
‘Descending to abusing somebody who campaigned in the Anti-Apartheid movement would be laughable if it were not so offensive. I am truly sorry for the good men and women in the party that this happened and while I wish the party every success, my record speaks for itself. Fathers 4 Justice has existed for the same amount of time as the English Democrats and F4J is a household name, with more members and wider recognition. The reality is that my resignation may generate more publicity for them than they achieved in the last six years.
‘Later this year I will launch a new campaign to raise issues like Tartan Taxes. Awareness is everything and they would probably stand to benefit from it.’
English Democrats Leader Robin Tilbrook was quick to issue a stern rebuttal:
I am obviously very disappointed that Matt O’Connor has issued this statement but I have to admit, not entirely surprised. What I now say is in sorrow, because Matt has done the cause some good but, contrary to what he now claims, Matt approached the English Democrats Party to put himself forward to be our mayoral candidate. In January he came to our National Council meeting in Leicester to urge us to select him and promised to “give the campaign 110%”!
During several discussions, he was made fully aware of the problems confronting a candidate for a smaller political party which is challenging the Establishment Parties – not least the problem of raising sufficient funds to fight an election campaign especially given the lack of media coverage of non Establishment candidates.
Within the bounds of our limited manpower and financial resources, Matt has been given 100% support by the English Democrats and many of our London members who have campaigned for him, and for England’s cause. Day in and day out, for many weeks the English Democrats have paid for all the campaign expenses that have been incurred. At no time has any funds been received from Matt.
Unfortunately – and this is not a subject I would have wanted to air publicly had it not been for the statement released by Matt O’Connor this morning seeking to blame us – it became apparent that there were problems with Matt’s candidacy arising from his own personal problems, not least following his disappearance from the campaign for several days, to the extent that I advised him to seek professional counselling regarding alcohol abuse, which he did. Matt did not disclose this problem to us when he urged us to select him as our candidate.
Despite this counselling, Matt again went missing last Saturday; – neither his office nor his partner seemed to know of his whereabouts and he could not be contacted at home. Indeed the Party prepared a statement last night raising concerns at his disappearance, as we were becoming genuinely worried for his safety.
Now, he has stated that he has resigned, although he cannot, of course, at this late stage, remove his name from the ballot paper.
This is all a great pity for Matt personally – he obviously has personal issues that he needs to address – but it also a pity for English Democrats’ candidates standing for the London Assembly – of which we have a full slate. They feel badly let down by Matt – but the campaign for English Democracy goes on!
The assembly campaign is running well and we have great hopes of getting a candidate elected, particularly on the party list, to campaign against the Establishment’s discrimination against London and England. The campaign for fair spending for London, an end to the Tartan Taxes, and real democracy and freedom of speech, will go on.
So I urge the people of London to give their vote, particularly their list vote, to the English Democrats. England’s cause is far bigger and more important than any one individual!
To lose one Mayoral candidate is unfortunate, but to lose two smacks of carelessness. Taking sides in this debate is like choosing between my children, but it has to be said that O’Connor brought with him a slickness that the English Democrats will miss. Whether that slickness was an unambiguously good thing however is another matter. Their recent PEB was a bile-filled attempt to resemble will.i.am’s homage to Barack Obama “Yes We Can” which ends up looking more like “Careless Whisper” by George Michael. And not in a good way. Can you say David Brent? Yes we can:
Sarcasm aside, it is hard to feel sympathy for a party and candidate whose sole objective seemed to be to piss off the Scots as much as possible, making exaggerated claims about “Tartan Taxes” and claiming that the only things the Scots ever gave to the world were “deep fried Mars Bars and Irn Bru.” The English Democrats also managed to cause me great amusement earlier this year by getting apoplectic about the SNP’s suggestion that Berwick might want to come back to Scotland, forgetting the fact that one year earlier they stood in the Welsh elections on a platform to do exactly the same thing with Monmouthshire. This is the disease of nationalism; the inability to see how bloody ridiculous you are being.
Wondering which way to vote in May’s London Mayoral election? Allow me to suggest this simple test:
Pick a candidate and try and imagine what they would be like handling a crisis such as 7/7.
Actually, you don’t need to do that with Livingstone. Love him or hate him, he’s already done this:
Brian Paddick? Well, again, this isn’t a hypothetical as he was the Deputy Metropolitan Police Chief at the time:
Boris Johnson? Does the thought make you want to laugh or cry?
Harsh test though this may be, I think it’s a valid one.
Hugh Muir reports:
And while we are continuing police inquiries, what do we know following their famous march on London? The event itself was peaceful; the least we could expect, but why was Richard Barnbrook, the BNP mayoral candidate for London and “visionary artist” allowed to take a prominent place at the front? Many forces ban their officers from membership of the BNP, as does the Association of Chief Police Officers. Brian Paddick, the Liberal Democrat candidate and former deputy assistant commissioner at the Met, raised the issue with the organisers, who proceeded – in an orderly fashion – to do nothing. Yesterday BNPtv posted its lengthy footage of Barnbrook interviewing a federation official from Essex police. The disreputable in league with the disgruntled. Hard to know which is worse.
You can watch the film on YouTube. Barnbrook can clearly be seen at the front of the demonstration along with the police’s other high profile supporters (including Susan Kramer, although she seems to have put as much distance between him and her as possible) while the Secretary of the Essex Police Federation Roy Scane (and there is no way a policeman with such a role could possibly not know who Barnbrook is) happily gives Barnbrook an extended interview.
This is of course exactly the kind of tacit approval that the BNP crave. Is the Police Federation nuts?
It’s good to see Brian Paddick’s political radar in full working order however.
UPDATE: The Evening Standard has more on this. How about this for a pathetic/vaguely sinister excuse from the Police Federation:
“Some of my colleagues saw we had the BNP Mayoral candidate with us. The one thing we want to make clear is we didn’t invite him. It wasn’t a closed march. He chose to attend by his own accord which is his right in a democracy. It is disappointing if anyone chose to join the march for their own agenda.
“We didn’t ask him to leave because whether we like it or not we live in a democracy.”
In a democracy you certainly can refuse to allow an individual to lead a public demonstration from the front. You simply ask him to leave. I somehow doubt even the BNP would be uncooperative with a crowd of 22,000 coppers. And you are certainly not required to provide him with a friendly interview with one of your regional officials.
And what’s with this ambivalence about living in a democracy? Are they on a mission to lose public sympathy?
Ken Livingstone supporters moving into the clothes peg business. Remember Polly Toynbee’s exhortation in the run up to the general election that people should vote Labour not because they were any good but because the Tories were worse? Well, it seems that Livingstone supporters have started a similar tactic. Seumus Milne, acknowledging that there is “a strong left critique of Livingstone,” nonetheless insists that “the choice [between Livingstone and Johnson] could hardly be starker. No other candidate is in with a shout.” Meanwhile, a bunch of Labour MPs have written a letter to the Guardian demanding that “the real issues in the London mayoral election should be Ken Livingstone’s record after eight years in office” only to immediately add that “Boris Johnson would abolish the 50% affordable housing policy. He opposed the minimum wage, backed section 28 and has called for big cuts to London’s transport and policing budgets. The choice could not be clearer.”
The Labour practice of talking up the Tories in order to shut down debate (and vice versa) is a time honoured tradition, and one the Lib Dems in turn practice themselves all the time. Polly at least had a point; under first past the post voting against the party you hate is more relevant than voting for the party you like. But the Mayoral election will not be conducted under first past the post but the supplementary vote (SV) system.
SV is by no means perfect – unlike AV you still have to take tactical factors into consideration when casting your first preference. But it does broaden the range out to at least the top three. What then becomes important is which candidates enjoy the broadest consensus. Livingstone has always done well out of a broad coalition of lefties, liberals and greens – these are votes Johnson must attract to actually win. Can he? I’m doubtful, and I suspect he can only lose ground over the next couple of months. On this basis it is looking less and less likely that Johnson can win, even if he ends up in the top two.
By contrast, it is not beyond the realms of possibility at all that if Paddick could overtake him. He was very unlucky to have his candidature announced while the leadership election was getting under way which didn’t make for the best of starts. But his relaunch this month has been very successful and he has a broader appeal than the standard Lib Dem candidate.
It’s no exaggeration to say that the only two people who can win this race are not Livingstone and Johnson but Livingstone and Paddick. The fact that Livingstone supporters seek to present the shock haired loon as some kind of looming phantom menace suggests they fear this is true themselves.
Given that Martin Bright has made a very high profile attack on Ken Livingstone this week for, among other things, his links with Hugo Chavez, I have to say I find it very amusing that the magazine of which he is Political Editor, the New Statesman, is currently offering this to all new subscribers:
Pay just Â£14.99 UK (Â£26.00 Europe, Â£32.00 World) for 12 issues of the New Statesman and receive this special edition T-shirt worth Â£20.99 absolutely free. In addition New Statesman will donate Â£1 to Venezuela Information Centre UK.
Don’t worry if you aren’t sure about the ethics of all this however; as an alternative you can always get a book on Fidel Castro instead. They cover the whole broad range of left opinion, they do. 🙂
In all the excitement of the leadership contest, I’ve just realised that I never got around to endorsing anyone for the Lib Dem mayoral candidate.
Since the deadline for ballots has been extended, there are possibly 2, maybe even 3 votes out there that haven’t been cast yet, so here goes.
It’s a total no-brainer: it has to be Brian Paddick. The latest Metropolitan Police debacle says it all really. In that case Paddick showed excellent judgement under pressure – in stark contrast to his then boss – and was vindicated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission’s report earlier this year. He is the only candidate with actual experience of running a London-wide public authority and of the three has the best experience of London as a whole.
Chamali Fernando ran an excellent campaign and deeply impressed me. If the party doesn’t now groom her for a winnable or held Commons seat, it really has totally lost the plot. But while she would make a great candidate, I’m afraid to say I don’t have confidence in a relatively inexperienced
twenty-something person running London. The next time she stands for something as well, a word of advice: don’t ever use the term “unspun” to sell yourself (which thinking about it is itself an oxymoron). It’s like “no problem” in that it alerts people to a concept that may hitherto not have been in their minds.
And you certainly should not use the phrase “unspun” in the contest of claiming to be “able to empower individuals, break routine and stampede formality”. I don’t happen to know what most of that phrase means, but I’m pretty sure it’s not entirely unrelated to spin.
Back to Paddick, if I do have a word of complaint, it is his campaign. It was lacklustre. Partly, I have heard on the grapevine, that is because of the phoney election that wasn’t and the subsequent leadership contest. But even a month ago I was disappointed by the website, which was uninspired, and his manifesto, which was concerned with making him look like a pro-forma Lib Dem candidate clone.
This isn’t how we should be selling him. His single strongest asset is his gravitas and trustworthiness. His main opponents are both clowns, particularly the shock haired freak the Tories are putting up against him. This is a real opportunity to carve out a distinctive agenda. That simply won’t happen if we treat this campaign like one big Parliamentary by-election.
Interestingly, it looks unlikely that his opponents will be able to make much of his most controversial act as a copper: downgrading the Brixton police’s handling of cannabis possession. This policy was of course a success and lead to a national policy change which has also now been shown to be a success, but all things being equal that won’t stop our opponents from trying to make hay with it (see Gordon Brown’s announcement to reverse the downgrading policy earlier in the summer).
But will Boris be able to make much of it given his jolly, libertarian image? And can you imagine cuddly Ken suddenly playing the cannabis card? They would both alienate large sections of their supporter base.
Bottom line: we have a candidate who inspires trust and has meaningful experience. That should be our key message, not nonsense about ensuring that buses don’t arrive at bus stops three in a row.
A gaffe from Tory mayoral candidate Boris Johnson reduced Labour MPs to helpless laughter and prompted protests in the Commons.
It was triggered after Mr Efford (Eltham) noted archly that Mr Johnson had made scant contribution to the debate.
“The candidate for the mayoral seat for the Conservative Party doesn’t seem to have a view on any of this,” he remarked.
Rising swiftly, Mr Johnson observed: “Anything that encourages more cooperation and consultation between the mayor and the boroughs is a good thing.”
Heckled by Mr Efford that he didn’t know what was being discussed, he added: “I think everybody in this House wants to see a mayoralty that responds to the wishes of local communities and works with the boroughs and not against them in imposing planning decisions that go against the wishes of locally elected politicians.”
Local Government Minister John Healey riposted: “Welcome to the debate. We missed your contribution and your presence in previous sections.
“Can I also say you are speaking in fact to the next group of amendments – we are talking about housing strategy and health, but we will come on to planning next.”
It’s all fun and games, but it doesn’t exactly indicate that Johnson is really serious about the job, does it?
One of the things that most irritated me about the Orange Book a few years ago was David Laws hectoring the Lib Dems for not doing enough to acknowledge how the fear of crime affects people’s daily lives (I paraphrase as I don’t have the book in front of me right now). Boris Johnson made a similar comment during the launch for his bid for London Mayor today and last week the Observer wrote:
The state cannot order civil society back into being, but it can facilitate the process. A first step is to recognise fear of crime is not irrational just because recorded crime is down. It is a reasonable response by a public feeling remote from the police.
Nonsense. Well, half nonsense. Because it is certainly true that the fear of crime is a debilitating thing, and that it needs to be dealt with. But we will only be able to get a grip on it once we recognise that it is indeed irrational, and stop pretending otherwise.
If the fear of something is greatly out of proportion to the possibility that it might happen, then that fear is irrational, full stop. All parties have been going on about the semi-mythical “bobbies on the beat” for decades, yet it is simply impossible to have a policeman on every street corner, at all times. The level at which a visible police force would start to ‘reassure’ the public would be simply unattainable. Spending a fortune on recruiting, training and retaining policemen who will then be given nothing more to do than walk around to ‘reassure’ people would be simply silly.
It simply isn’t good enough for parties and journalists to persist with this line. We don’t need the police to reclaim the streets, as the Observer suggests, but the public to. How we tackle such a seemingly intractable notion is the big question, but by asking it we might just find the answer.
One thing we, as a society, might try is to reverse the trend towards viewing anti-social behaviour as criminality. 12 years ago, we had more crime, but no-one knew what anti-social behaviour was. One of New Labour’s most pernicious legacies has been to convince people that naughtiness, rowdiness and petty vandalism is something the police should handle when in the past it was something the community itself sorted out. The more we concentrate on anti-social behaviour, the worse it seems. We can never win the war on anti-social behaviour because it is so mutable: unless all young people transform into angels en masse, there will always be someone doing something that upsets someone.
Worse, it seems to have created an antagonism towards the police that eclipses even the attitude when I was a teenager. I remember my sixth form being chased down Bromley High Street by coppers with dogs simply because the landlord at a pub we had paid to hold a party at smelt a spliff. That was a moronic over-reaction by the boys in blue. Now they are charged with enforcing curfews on any kid who doesn’t look like they have a place to go. You couldn’t invent a better system for alienating young people from authority if you tried.
I’m sure that round the edges there are things that governments could do to sort this unholy mess out, but ultimately it is up to all of us to actually turn this situation around. In my view, we need to develop a mass participation consciousness-raising campaign such as Full Stop or Make Poverty History, to persuade people that they are the agents of their own destiny, that they need to take responsibility over their own children and that they need to rebuild the adult solidarity. Such a campaign, if it could be made a success, would be one of the most liberating mass movements in our history. As such, it would inevitably come up against a political and cultural establishment – politicians, the police and of course the tabloid press which would all be emasculated by it.
How could we achieve such a thing? Haven’t the foggiest, sorry. Answers on a postcard please. All I know is that the alternative – to continue indulging the fear of crime – leads to a vicious circle of self-destructive madness.