Monday

Another MythOfTheHeartlessTory opening

Standing for election can be a traumatic experience, accompanied by denial of the trauma. It has taken 18 months before I have seen my actions as others perhaps saw them earlier. Though my critics expressed their opinion less classically, perhaps I was akin to Icarus, flying too near the sun? 

Almost 18 months ago now, Hastings Independent Press published what I call "A Tale of Two Independent Candidates": 
“Amber Rudd’s majority over Labour candidate Peter Chowney at the 2017 general election was just 346. The three other candidates, Nick Perry of the Liberal Democrats, Michael Sheridan of UKIP and independent Nicholas Wilson all lost their deposits. 

The Lib Dems as unrepentant Remainers and UKIP as belligerent No Dealers had clearly differentiated programmes from both main parties in that election. Mr Wilson, however, was a paid-up member of the Labour party. He said he had joined it “to vote for Jeremy Corbyn” but was standing separately on an “anti-corruption” ticket. As he polled 412 votes, and Cllr Chowney lost by a lesser margin, it is hardly surprising that Labour held him substantially responsible for their shortfall. 

Could history repeat itself two years on? For here comes another independent candidate, Paul Crosland, on the 2019 ballot – not, as far as is known, a recalcitrant Labour member, but one who is espousing radical causes that seem likely to attract more fringe Labour voters than Conservatives.” 
So, in what kind of politics can an independent candidate polling just 412 votes be held "substantially responsible" for a) the shortfall of 346 votes & b) for their party not getting the victor's 25,668 votes? IMHO an unfair, blaming (rather than responsibility-taking) kind of politics.

I chose to stand in 2019 in a “marginal seat” where I knew the back-story that includes this assumption by the "Independent"(left-wing!) local press that the 412 votes of my predecessor as the independent candidate were in some sense rightfully Labour's! Thus Nicholas Wilson (known as “Mr Ethical”) was scapegoated for the "Labour Party trauma" of Amber Rudd winning by 346 votes and I found myself threatened, in a surprisingly upsetting way, for the decision I took to be #StandingForGenerosity

Amongst other things, I contest both the assumptions about where Nicholas Wilson’s votes came from and where my 565 votes cast in 2019 came from. I suggest that neither are minor, parochial issues, but signifiers of a number of overdue changes needed in UK Politics for democracy to survive/flourish.

In standing as I did in 2019 I can simultaneously show the influence I had as an Independent Candidate in shifting the policy and publications of Hastings Labour Party. In other marginal constituencies other local branches of major political parties can be significantly shifted by the actions of Independent Candidates. My findings, dialogues and reflections amount to an informed proposal of a new kind of politics in a democratically deficient UK. Within this vision I have realised through standing and reflecting long and hard on the shortfalls of the vision I formerly presented that regime change is not necessary to make most of the difference.

Though I moved out of #HastingsAndRyeConstituency on the day of the General Election result -under a number of pressures, personal and political, I was not, like the independent candidate in this constituency before me, castigated for losing Labour an election. 

Nonetheless I was assumed by some to have capitulated with the Tories. That accusation is worthy IMHO of unpacking if we are to hold dear in this country anything other than polarising/reactive (rather than creative) politics which, IMHO, doesn't get the best out of anyone. Does standing up for something other than a #HowlingHustings make one an ally of one party and an enemy of another?

Though I value my two decades engaged in mediation work in settings as varied as prison and 10 Downing St, I’m no saint. I’m certainly not (yet) free of the antithesis of the #KinderPolitics for which I stand. I evidence my own #UnkinderPolitics in writing epitaphs for Teresa May and Nigel Farage; the former PM who upset some wheat and didn’t have a viable way of enacting Brexit, the latter an unelectable individual (under first past the post politics) from whom the lessons of his massive impact on UK politics have not yet been learned. 

In the forthcoming book, "The #Myth Of The Heartless Tory", with input from #StLeonardsLocalTreasureTonyMay & #ChrisGidlowAuthorAndHistorian, I wish to explore with you: 
  1. How #KinderPolitics might produce #DeeperAccountability & more #InfluenceNotControl 
  2. How Independent Candidates, without needing to be elected, may become the mediators and influencers of seismic "Welfare Initiatives" way beyond the extension of free school meals during the Covid19 crisis. (I picture the creation of a new political consensus (like after WW2) to the extent that any political party seeking substantial numbers of MPs being elected could only achieve their electoral goal if they supported at least an experimental trial in the area of  "UniversalBasicIncome" or lowering the pension age (#PensionsAt30?) as a step towards the “BasicIncome culture-shift”.)
  3. a #DeeperLegitimacyParliament and route towards #ConvergentPolitics without compromising "A Democracy of Met Needs".

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