Sally-Ann Hart (MP)
House of Commons
17th September 2020
“Kinder Politics” and “Deeper Accountability”
We last corresponded on Easter Sunday and Easter Monday, when politics wasn't so heated. It is becoming clearer to me that a significant part of my role in Hastings & Rye general elections is to take some of the heat out of the flashpoints, and do my best, as an imperfect idealist/mediator, to ensure that difference gets heard and individuals valued. I would suggest that my aims chime with those in the second question you put during the “Election Candidates: Protection” discussion in the House of Commons on 22nd January: “Does [x] agree that at times during the last election the commentary and actions of others were misleading, inaccurate and vicious, and that there should be no place for that in our politics, regardless of political persuasion? What steps does she think we should take to ensure that, as leaders in our communities across parties, we conduct our engagement together in an open, respectful and honest way?”
I wonder what answer to the latter question has so far emerged?
What I offer to get us “beyond polarisation in politics” is a “virtuous spiral” of “kinder politics” and “deeper accountability”; each approach having great potential to reinforce the other. When under attack, as you have been, it takes great courage and clarity to go beyond the merely defensive justification or counter-attack and step into the realm of what your higher self sees as “deeper accountability”.
An advisor suggested that I limit this letter to 500 words; imagining that effectiveness is about being “business like”. You'll see from how I end this letter that I'm reaching out to touch you personally just as you did physically at the election count on the morning of 13th December, touching my chest whilst calling me a “kind man” and with your husband coming up to me to shake my hand and introduce himself. “Kinder politics” doesn't make all parliamentary candidates into friends, but friendliness is always possible, even to those who have insulted us.
I call for all who criticise to preface their critique with an offering of to what value(s) they hold themselves to account. When I announced my candidacy in the 25th October 2019's Hastings, St Leonards and Rye Observer I clarified that I was “standing for generosity – mine and yours.”
Please hold me to account for this stand and please hold your party leader to account for the same claim that he made as a conclusion to his 10th May 10 Downing Street address, post-recovery from Covid19; that he was leading a government to be judged on being “More Generous More Sharing”.
Just as my contemporary at the Oxford Union in the mid 1980s, Boris Johnson, has done in 2020; I set myself up in 2019 to be judged on my generosity and on policy proposals promoting more sharing. I have drafted this letter many times in my attempt to find the most generous way to ask you to call yourself to account for the readiness with which you seemed to support the most cavalier proposal from the Prime Minister in relation to International Law. Of course, some MPs voted the “United Kingdom Internal Market Bill” through the second reading in order to then support the Bill Neill amendment intended to withhold the power to break International Law from the executive and ensure that power rests in Parliament. By thus asserting the “Sovereignty of Parliament” in matters of “trade wars”, the legal requirements of “Getting Brexit Done” will need to be convincingly articulated in Parliament if illegal means are needed to serve the national interest above others. It cannot be in the spirit of the best of Brexit for decisions of this magnitude to be made by the executive alone and brought back to the house for mere rubber-stamping? By the way, I must say that I valued the contribution that you made in the house yesterday, culminating in your rhetorical flourish: “Faced with a choice of supporting our Union or the European Union, I know whose side I am on; do you?”
I am confident that you would condemn the Beijing Government reneging on its international treaty with Britain? Whether there is a direct parallel with our country’s prospective reneging on the Withdrawal Agreement is perhaps a moot point. What I am clear about is that I took you to be an MP who would not break international law without holding yourself duly accountable. So my request to you is that you publish something on your website, or Tweet something, that includes the word “Accountability” and offers a way in which you will deepen your accountability to your electorate.
I too am deepening my accountability in following up in particular my words from the “HIP Hastings Hustings 5-12-2019” that were subsequently transcribed and reported back verbatim in the Hastings Independent newspaper in favour of a Basic Income scheme (13th December 2019 edition). No longer simply proposing universal basic income at the austerity level advocated by Professor Standing, I am now calling for UBI to be paid for by something more easily accountable than a wealth tax ie a 3% annual levy on the value of land owned -i.e. 3% Land Value Tax. Meanwhile, since early on in 2020 my personal Facebook page (as opposed to that of Paul Crosland, Independent Candidate) is now in the name of Paul BasicIncome Crosland.
The electoral reform I favour happens to be the system practised in all elections within the Green Party; a candidate being elected only on receiving over 50% of the voters' support; often requiring voters' second preferences to be taken into account. In terms of Hastings and Rye contituency's 12th December 2019 voting you only cross the 50% threshold of legitimacy with my support as the only other pro-Brexit* candidate.
Returning to the reliability of Boris Johnson’s words beyond #MoreGenerousMoreSharing, the Prime Minister's words need to have credibility not only for the people of Hong Kong. It seems possible that we will have in this administration a Government perfectly willing to renege on an international treaty in relation to greenhouse gases and ecological destruction. Certainly the Paris Agreement (within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) does not look to me like it is being implemented. Without a green economy, we are not only in danger of going over the 1.5 or 2 degree warming but well on track for 4 degrees warming by the end of the century! Indeed a scenario of 16 degrees warming in the following two centuries is also suggested in a Zoom conference, involving the government's former chief scientific adviser, Sir David King; highlights of which were uploaded to the PlanB Earth YouTube Channel. Unless Carbon Dioxide reduction targets are set to be met within your term of office, how can you be held to account? I look for you to adopt more accountability, not only in relation to Brexit, but also in relation to the climate crisis.
It was with great regret that I heard of your not attending the extinction rebellion hustings which I and my fellow candidates fully participated in. I heard that this decision was on account of safety concerns. I saw no grounds for such safety concerns and I feel strongly that unless every candidate takes part in such meetings that we will end up with more polarised politics and a society where it is no longer possible for discussions to take place. Thus, in the context of the next general election, I urge you to commit to engaging in and with a forum organised by “Extinction Rebellion - Hastings and St Leonards”; to mention them on Twitter please use @XRHSL. A commitment to being accountable for the climate crisis agenda is, I would suggest very important for your future as an MP.
That you assured the electorate that you weren't a “career politician” should be a basis upon which your constituents can count on you to stand up for policies other than those handed down by your political party, yet so far I have not seen a single deviation in your voting from the voting that the Whip's office would want of you.
I don't expect you to be a “Whip-Free Accountable Maverick In Parliament”; that role I leave to my successor(s), but your constituents need to be able to trust that you will take an independent position, when principles and conscience require it.
Having written enough for one letter about “Deeper Accountability” I return to the other key aspect necessary for us to get beyond polarisation to a form of politics fit to meet the challenges of these times; “kinder politics”. I think we both have a vested interest in “kinder politics”, although perhaps a different interpretation of how to do it.
For my part I will be saying clearly during the next election campaign that 'I don’t know best, we know better’. From this point of view I should like to work with you in putting forward our respective ideas about how kinder politics could work. There is much to be worked through at both local and national level so that those standing in each constituency work together to ensure that each candidate is given a proper hearing and treated with respect. Whilst presuming your intention to stand in the next General Election, I will hold back on my further ideas on this until you and other candidates have set out some suggestions for the agreements we may make. I will just say that in the wake of hustings I advocate for a chance to put right misunderstandings that may arise on the night and a way for each party to obtain further clarification the next day, if needs be.
How does this land with you? I would appreciate an initial response first and then maybe later a more considered response. With your support a new style of kinder, more accountable politics can be co-created.
Regards to you and your husband
P.S. If first class post reaches you tomorrow, please spare a prayer for my Dad, whose funeral is then.
P.P.S. A copy of this letter will be published on the “Paul Crosland, Independent Candidate” Facebook page next week.
*Though, as you may have gathered:
“I'm dreaming of a Green Brexit;
Just like the one in the 1991 Manifesto for a Sustainable Society”