“I’ve got your back, Sally-Ann and Peter”by Paul Crosland (2019 Independent Candidate)
Out of the boisterous air of the Hastings Independent hosted hustings of 5th December, the soundbite that became viral and led both local news stories and the BBC’s “Victoria Derbyshire” discussion programme by 10am the following morning was “Some people with learning difficulties don’t understand about money”. This sentence could be parodied in so many ways, but “I stood for Generosity” and to me that stand involves making the effort to mediate mutual comprehension rather than conjure up an “enemy image” of a Conservative and treat her words as confirmation that the Tories stand for demeaning, patronising and "othering" the disadvantaged.
For me, “Community Development”, the cause that led me to stand as an Independent with an intention of going on to found a new “Sharing & Care4Caring” political party/politics, only takes place when we hear each other to their satisfaction and having clarified what needs we are each trying to serve, see what alliances we can make to #MoveForwardMoreTogether.
In this spirit, in 2011, I formed the St Leonards Sharing Consortium with the Centre for Peaceful Solutions as a key partner. It’s founder, Maria Arpa, now the Executive Director of the International Centre For NonViolent Communication (CNVC.org), came to St Leonards to lead a weekend’s training, about which the chair of the Hastings Pier and White Rock Trust (as was) said the following:
“I’m breath-taken and inspired about the last two days; it’s been quite changing for me. I’d recommend this training across the voluntary and corporate sectors; across every walk of life this could add value”.
As creator of the Dialogue Road Map (DRM), Maria explained to me: "Magnified by [some of] the media, as a society we've reached a point where it's all too easy to judge what someone's saying to suit our own story. A healthier society would be one in which we take the time to unpack and understand the meaning and intention behind what's being said. When we choose dialogue over debate, with goodwill and co-operation, the apparently difficult choices we face will become less conflicted. My friend, Paul Crosland, has come out of this situation more determined than ever to stand for the values/practices of Mutual Understanding, Self Responsibility and Action Planning/(Non-blaming) Review which, in my experience, lie at the heart of effective action in the wake of hearing what we don’t like to hear."
600 words as the length allotted for this piece doesn’t allow space to unpack the issues of what “public good” is being blocked by “minimum wage” policies, as opposed, for example, to the “Basic Income” scheme I was trying to convey during the cut and thrust of those hustings. Ironically I was also trying to get out the message I put out at the Rye Hustings of job-share opportunities that cover us having an off-day in terms of our mental health. This policy I call “I’ve got your back”. Just as, in running a Restorative Justice project in HMP Bristol I was 100% on the offender’s side, 100% on the victim’s side and 100% on the community’s side without breaking the rules of maths, so too am I equally on the side of Peter Chowney and Sally-Ann Hart getting a fair hearing when challenging a value held dear by a majority. Here the “golden cow” was the minimum wage. Just to give a flavour of another unorthodox view on this matter, my (election-time) wingman, Tony May, never wants to work for the minimum wage because, amongst other things, that amounts to his being labeled “a minimum person”; he’d rather work for free as the “Clean-Up Man” and retain his dignity.
I close with a refrain from one of Maria Arpa and my highest mentors, now departed, Marshall Rosenberg:
“Words are windows or they’re walls;
They sentence us or set us free,
When I speak or when I hear,
Let the love-light shine through me.”