andrewgodsell

Tales from an author

Archive for the month “August, 2016”

Labour Suspension – Encouraging Developments

I have pledged to Blog, on a daily basis, about the suspension of thousands of Lavbour Party members until something is done about this affront to our democracy. I have been suspended from the Labour Party after 32 years of loyal membership, and prevented from voting in the leadership election, due to “allegations” about “comments you posted on Twitter”.

Many thanks to the thousands of people reading the Blog, and spreading the message on other Blogs, Twitter, and Facebook. I have received hundreds of messages of support and advice – thank you for these. I always read the messages, but am having trouble finding the time to respond personally to everybody.

On day 8 of the suspension, I feel there are some encouraging developments to report.

1 I have been telephoned by Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign team, and have given them information for a dossier they are compiling about the suspensions. I cannot say much more at the moment, but hope that this will raise the profile of our battle to regain our votes and membership.

2 The Guardian have published a letter from a group of 17 Labour Party members, including myself. The letter points to the organised campaign to prevent many Corbyn supporters from having a vote – and the lack of action against abusive opponents of Corbyn.

3 I had a positive telephone conversation with the Equality Advisory Support Service, an organisation that provides official advice on the practicalities of the Equality Act and Human Rights Act. They are looking at the Labour Party’s legal responsibility to deal fairly with party members who have a disability, including the long-term mental health issues experienced by myself, and other suspended members who have been in touch.

Once again, thank you and good luck – working together we can tackle this.

I have not yet received any reply to the series of emails sent to Labour headquarters appealing against my suspension, but have sent another chaser today, set out below.

Hello

I write further to the series of emails below.

As I have Asperger Syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, long-term mental health conditions, I feel I should be entitled to expect reasonable adjustments, in accordance with the Equality Act, in the way that the Labour Party deals with my appeal against suspension. I think the clearest way in which the Labour Party could demonstrate this is by a prompt response to the series of emails.

Having not received a reply to the emails, I telephoned yesterday, and this added to my anxiety. One aspect of my condition is that I find written information easier to deal with than verbal information. I feel that the Labour Party’s delay in replying is disadvantaging myself as a disabled person. I have been suspended from the party on the basis of allegations, the specific detail of which has not been shown to me, and deprived of my vote in the current leadership election, thereby infringing on my right to take part in the democratic political processes in Britain.

In the first email in this chain I requested a reply by August 30, which was a reasonable timescale. It is now August 31 and I still have not received a reply.

Thank you

Labour Suspension Telephone Call

Yesterday I felt a positive, having obtained detail of the Labour suspension appeal process. Today has brought a bizarre and frustrating development, as I telephoned party HQ. The email I sent after the call will form a large part of this post.

On a brighter note, many people are sharing links to this series of Blog posts on Twitter and Facebook.

My Blog posts have been viewed 6,400 times in just 5 days.

One lady has kindly told John McDonnell on Twitter that “Andrew Godsell has been working tirelessly to get suspension appeal info”.

So that is where I am on day 7 of the suspension – more to follow, but here is the email.

 

Hello

Further to emails below I have today telephoned, and spoken to X in the compliance department.

I said I had been suspended from the Labour Party, and been advised that if I telephoned I would be told the reason for the suspension.

X said the reason is on the suspension letter.

I said the letter only mentioned allegations about comments on Twitter, and I understood, from guidance sent to NEC members, that if I telephoned I would be told the exact detail of which comments had led to the suspension.

X said this would be emailed to me, probably two days from now.

I said I was frustrated that after several emails and telephone calls in recent days I was still not being given the opportunity to look at the exact detail, believing this could be sent as soon as I called. I asked if there was a manager, or anybody else I could speak to, to get the detail today.

X said there was not anybody else there who would tell me anything different to what she had said, and there was not a manager available.

I said I was not happy with that, after 32 years of loyal party membership, during which I had stood as a Labour candidate for local council elections several times, I had been suspended due to allegations about Twitter comments. I had phoned as I had been advised to do, and was now met with more delay.

X said she would check with a colleague.

A moment later, X said she had spoken to a manager, who said the detail would be emailed to me in three or four days.

I asked X why the timescale had moved from 2 days to 3 or 4 days, and how she had been told this by a manager when there was not a manager there.

I again asked to speak to a manager, but X now returned to telling me there was not a manager there. X added she had been told not to pass the call to a manager.

I asked for the name of the person who advised X that I could not speak to a manager.

X said she would not tell me the name of that person, and would not take the call any further, whereupon she put the phone down.

All of this leaves me feeling increasingly frustrated and upset. I suffer from Asperger Syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and the unjustified actions of the Labour Party in suspending me are currently making my condition worse. I have been unable to focus on anything apart from battling against suspension for several days. I have been contacted by other Labour Party members with mental health conditions, who share my anxiety on this issue. I am also aware that complaints about misuse of data by the party have been submitted to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

I am copying this email to Y, a member of the National Executive Committee.

Please can I have a prompt reply from somebody advising how this will be resolved.

Thank you

 

Labour Suspension Appeal Process

After several frustrating days, I have finally got hold of the official appeal process for members wishing to challenge their suspension. I was suspended on the evening of Wednesday August 24. The appeal process was circulated to members of the NEC on the evening of Friday August 26 – the start of a three day weekend, during which the party office has been closed to telephone calls.

To: NEC members

From: General Secretary

Membership and Supporter validation

As you will undoubtedly have noticed, suspension letters started landing with members yesterday.

If members or supporters who have received a notification would like more information on the evidence seen by the panel, from today they can call 0345 092 2299 and a team in Newcastle will be able to help them. There is no right of appeal for registered or affiliate supporters, but if members wish to appeal they can make this in writing to appeals@labour.org.uk

Below is a standard form of words you may wish to use with members who contact you directly if you find it helpful.

Yours sincerely,

Iain

 

Dear XXXX,

Thank you for contacting me regarding your recent administrative suspension from the Labour Party.

The procedural rules for the leadership election state that: No abuse of any kind by members or supporters shall be tolerated. All eligible members and supporters must conduct themselves in a calm and polite manner and be respectful to each other at all times. Behaviour including, but not limited to, racist, abusive or foul language, abuse against women, homophobia or anti-Semitism at meetings, on social media or in any other context will be dealt with according to the rules and procedures of the Labour Party.

Allegations of breaches to this rule have, in all cases, been referred to a panel of the National Executive Committee to make a decision on whether further action needs to be taken. Where appropriate, such as in cases of abuse, this includes the power to revoke the voting rights of members and supporters in the Leadership Election. The NEC panel’s decision to revoke voting rights is not contingent on the outcome of any future investigation.

In your case, the panel of the National Executive Committee have decided that the evidence provided is enough to take further action. If you would like more information on the evidence used to make this decision, please call the Labour Party’s national office on 0345 092 2299.

 

I have today forwarded the appeal email I sent on August 25 to the address mentioned in the NEC note. Tomorrow I will telephone the party office – I expect a long time waiting in a queue.

Today is the sixth day of my suspension from the party. I continue to exchange and information with other party members, as we collectively battle against the purge.

My series of Blog posts on the subject have been viewed by more than 4,000 people in 5 days, and I remain committed to post here on a daily basis, outlining the fight against a process which mostly appears designed by a clique at party headquarters to deny members, and registered supporter applicants, the opportunity to vote for Jeremy Corbyn in the leadership election.

Suspended from the Labour Party Day 5

Among many implications for many people, the Labour purge is not helping in my battle with Asperger’s. People with Asperger Syndrome struggle with social interaction. Membership of the Labour Party has always been important to my sense of identity. When I joined Labour in 1984 I felt part of a political party that championed the NHS, comprehensive education, and workers’ rights, while providing opposition to Thatcherism. 13 years later I helped in the election of a Labour government, which was destined to introduce the minimum wage, and strengthen the NHS, along other achievements. I felt proud of my small role in the process. Although I struggle talking to people I do not know, confidence in the strength of the Labour Party, and enthusiasm for politics, has enabled me to be a regular party canvasser, talking to people on their doorsteps.  Now that I have been suspended, I feel that part of my identity has been taken away, hopefully only on a temporary basis. This is something I Tweeted about last night. I received support from fellow Tweeters, for which I am grateful, and that prompted this attempt at a more detailed explanation of what I feel.

Well that is the emotional bit done.

Now for an update on the practical side.

The message from myself and others is spreading rapidly. My series of Blog posts about the Labour purge have received over 3,200 views in just 4 days

I have emailed a member of the Labour NEC, seeking advice on the possibility of members of the NEC taking up the case of members who have been suspended.

Having received advice on Twitter, I have today emailed Electoral Reform Services, the organisation running the Labour ballot, trying to clarify the situation regarding my vote – in the continued spirit of openness, here is the email (only one redaction!).

Hello 

I am writing to yourselves as organisers of the Labour Party leadership ballot. 

My Labour membership number is [redacted]

On August 23 I emailed the Labour Party asking for confirmation of my ballot – first email in chain below. 

On August 24 I received an email from the Labour Party saying that my vote had been removed, due to allegations about comments I had posted on Twitter. There was no detail of the allegations, and no obvious right of appeal.

On August 25 I replied to the August 24 email, seeking to challenge removal of my vote, but I have not received a reply. 

Later on August 25 I received email below – in reply to original enquiry of August 23 but hopefully influenced by my email of August 24 – advising that I am due to receive a ballot. 

I am concerned about the confusion here. 

If I still have a vote, when will the ballot be sent to me?

If my vote has been removed, are there any safeguards in your running of the ballot to ensure that fairness is applied?

You may be aware of media reports that thousands of Labour Party members face the same uncertainty as myself.

There are also reports that Electoral Reform Services have been able to resolve some cases where members have not been given clear information by the Labour Party. 

Please can you clarify

Thank you

Labour Purge – Appealing Works

A Labour source has confirmed “a few thousand” votes have now been culled in the Party’s second leadership “purge.” Figures of either “tens of thousands” o…

Source: Labour Purge – Appealing Works

Suspended from the Labour Party Day 4

We have built a mass movement Labour Party, with around 600,000 members, ready to defeat the Tories, but a small group of people at the headquarters are suspending people, removing their vote in the leadership election, causing a lot of resentment and demoralisation.

Back again, with another update.

On Twitter I have described this as Day 4 of suspension by the Labour NEC from the Big Brother House.

There has been much Tweeting today, sharing ideas and support with other people fighting the Labour Party purge. Things are being planned with other purged supporters of Jeremy Corbyn.

My initial Blog post about suspension has been viewed over a thousand times in 48 hours.

Following on from the appeal against suspension, I have sent another email to the General Secretary of the Labour Party today – as follows:

Mr McNicol 

Further to my email below, I wish to make a subject access request in accordance with section 7 of the Data Protection Act 1988 

Please can you advise the process for my obtaining copies of all the searchable material the Labour Party holds on myself. 

I am particularly interested in finding out the specific detail of the allegations that led to my suspension, the person/s who made allegations, and the process whereby they were considered before you suspended me from the Labour Party.

Thank you

I shall return soon, hopefully with more progress.

 

 

The Labour Purge – Day 3

I have decided to battle against this, and make public the progress of the fight. I believe in transparency, whereas the people who have suspended me appear to be operating in secret. I am aware that thousands of other members of the Labour Party face the same situation, being disenfranchised by the party machine.

I said the above yesterday, and events since then strengthen my belief in the campaign of Jeremy Corbyn supporters against the “Labour Purge”.

John McDonnell spoke out about the issue yesterday, on behalf of Jeremy Corbyn, and his comments have been widely reported in national mainstream media. Ahead of this both the Canary and Huffington Post featured this weeks targeted suspension of Corbyn supporters, which is an attempt to gerrymander the leadership election.

Two days ago I was suspended from the Labour Party.

Yesterday I wrote about this on my Blog.

Now it is day 3, and there are already enough developments to warrant another Blog post, telling the story from a personal angle.

The initial post has been viewed over 700 times in 24 hours – this is far more my attention than my modest Blog has ever received before..

My associated messages on Twitter yesterday and today have prompted hundreds of replies and Retweets, including much excellent advice. There have been many personal messages of support. I have been contacted by some Owen Smith supporters, who have known me to be a decent member of the Labour Party for many years, and do not want the suspension to continue.

I have been been contacted by two BBC journalists, wishing to gain an insight into the gathering controversy.

Unfortunately I have not yet received a reply from the man at the centre of the storm, Iain McNicol, but my email challenging the suspension did give him a 6 day window so perhaps he is thinking about things!

More likely the situation is that my case is one of thousands of Corbyn supporters, with staff at Labour headquarters busy suspending loyal comrades they know nothing about, on the basis of flimsy evidence.

Thank you for reading, and a final thought for now:

be annoyed

be upset

but most of all

be determined to win the battle for Labour Party democracy

    

Suspended from the Labour Party

I have voted for the Labour Party at every opportunity in General, local, and European Elections since 1983, when I was 18. I have been a member of the Labour Party since 1984, and a party candidate in local elections on 10 occasions between 1989 and 2015. As a party activist, I have delivered countless leaflets, spoken to countless people on their doorsteps, and helped in the election of my local MP, MEPs, and many local councillors. I have put an enormous amount of time, effort, and emotion into my belief in the Labour Party, and our campaigns for a better Britain. In recent years this has often been difficult, as I struggle with Asperger’s Syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I have remained loyal to the party through several changes of leader and policy outlook, believing that – whatever our faults – Labour offers hope to our society, whereas the Conservative Party merely defend the interests of the powerful and wealthy.

I received an email from the Labour Party National Executive Committee yesterday, advising that I have been suspended from the party, and prevented from voting in the leadership election, due to “allegations” about “comments you posted on Twitter”. No further detail has been given. The email says there will be an investigation, but no timescale for this is mentioned.

I have decided to battle against this, and make public the progress of the fight. I believe in transparency, whereas the people who have suspended me appear to be operating in secret. I am aware that thousands of other members of the Labour Party face the same situation, being disenfranchised by the party machine.

Shortly after receiving the email from the NEC, I forwarded it on to Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign team, with the following covering note:

Hello 

I have today received the email below advising that I have been suspended from the Labour Party, and banned from voting in the leadership election. As a loyal member of the Labour Party for 32 years, I am disgusted by this.

I have not abused anybody on Twitter.

It seems unfair that the general secretary of the Labour Party can unilaterally suspend me, without giving specific detail of what it is alleged I have done, and who has made the allegation. I suspect the allegation has come from somebody in my local Labour Party, as I have been receiving quite a few messages from such people on Twitter attacking my pro-Jeremy Corbyn views.  

Please are you able to offer any advice on action I can take to get the suspension lifted. 

Thank you

 

I have today sent the following email to Iain McNicol, General Secretary of the Labour Party, and the man who made the decision, on behalf of the NEC, to suspend me.

Mr McNicol

I reply to your email of August 24.

As a loyal member of the Labour Party for 32 years, I am aggrieved that I have been suspended from the Labour Party, and banned from voting in the leadership election.

It is unfair that you, as general secretary of the Labour Party, can unilaterally suspend me, without giving specific detail of what it is alleged I have done, and who has made the allegation.

I am not racist, and I have not used abusive or foul language on Twitter.

Suspending me on the basis of an allegation which has not yet been investigated is contrary to natural justice. I have been found guilty without trial.

Given the fact that the leadership ballot closes less than a month from now, I expect a prompt resolution of this matter.

I hereby request that the suspension of my membership of the Labour Party is immediately lifted.

Please respond to me by email before 5.00 pm on Tuesday August 30.

 

I shall post further on this Blog when there are developments.

Thank you for reading, and I would welcome any positive advice or comments.

Andrew Godsell – disenfranchised but fighting for Labour Party democracy

 

Thoughts of an Author on Promoting Their Book – More #Oomph Required

15 cover 2014

Well my initial post about book promotion, last month, did at least make some impact, albeit small. The statistics on my Blog show that it received 16 views on the day I posted. About half of these were referred from Twitter – my Blog posts feed directly to my Twitter account. There were also some views prompted by Facebook, which was a surprise as my Blog does not feed there. Perhaps some kind friend mentioned my post on Facebook.

This current post has been put together over at intervals across more than a fortnight. I have hopped between various ideas, and been a bit lacking in focus. Perhaps I could have divided these ideas into a series of posts, but here I am trying to bring some coherence to them. One aspect, I think, of my OCD is that I become bogged down with the detail of enthusiasms as well as worries. Sometimes I will think at great length about an idea for a few days, following which the idea drops out of my thoughts. Another few days later, the thought pops back into my head, with consideration of why it seemed important, and then not important. Asperger’s combined with OCD can lead to a great kaleidoscope of ideas – or equally, just a muddle.

In recent years Europe United, a football book (definitely not an argument against Brexit as I voted for Lexit), published in 2005, has consistently been the most popular of my works on Amazon. On the day that I posted the book promotion piece, I found that my latest print book, The World Cup and International Football 1872-2016, published in May, has recently attained its first sales ranking on Amazon. This means that, two months after its arrival, people had started buying it from Amazon, while there are also copies on Ebay. At the end of July, I posted a couple of pieces to mark the fiftieth anniverary of England winning the 1966 World Cup. These have been followed in August with posts about football at the Olympics, but these have received little interest. On a brighter note, the Word Press statistics tell me that the number of views of my Blog in July were the highest for at least 12 months. As part of this, the last week of July brought the largest number of views in a week for more than two months.

Fifteen Minutes of Fame is my personal favourite book. I suppose the first assumption of many people may be something along the lines of, why is an obscure person claiming to be famous? In practice, the book is a modest account of a modest literary career. There is an element of satire of the celebrity autobiography genre. At the same time I have written a book which I, and some of the people who have read it, value as a piece of comedy, with many tales of my eccentric antics. On the other hand, the blurb also mentions that a central theme of the book is my struggle with Asperger’s and OCD. One of my aims is that one day I will be able to emerge as an advocate in some way for people with Asperger’s. This in turn leads to the issues of somebody with Asperger’s lacking the confidence to project themselves. At the age of 51, I often feel I have not yet settled on a real purpose. As John Lennon once sang, “Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans”. That feels so poignant to me, as the lyric is from the song Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy), which John recorded for his young son Sean, shortly before John was murdered in 1980.

Over the years I have read various web pages offering advice on how authors can promote their work. One suggestion that sticks in my memory is that an author should seek to get potential readers interested in them as a person, growing an audience, rather than just plugging their books. I mostly use Twitter to share, and debate, political news. Other subjects I regularly Tweet about include mental health, football, music, and just random things that interest or amuse. Literature in general, and my books in particular, feature less than might be expected. Perhaps I can find a way to change the emphasis.

I probably use up too many hours on Twitter, when I could be writing, but I do find the debate and interaction fascinating. Being active on Twitter improves my confidence, as my following grows, while I am not afraid to debate big subjects with famous people. The need to keep messages to 140 characters may also help me in getting a point across in a concise manner.

Twitter can become addictive. Some days (too many days) I will spend hours on Twitter. It is a great place to share information, and banter. I have recently taken to posting photos of frogs, seen in the garden, on Twitter. These have amused or interested several people. Unlike many men, I can also multi-task, as I am writing this while also Tweeting – hopping between the two.

My Tweeting has certainly had one noticeable effect recently. I often send Tweets to BBC journalists about news items, and the way in which they are presented on their channel. I rarely get responses but, to her credit, Martine Croxall, a presenter on the BBC News channel, has been willing to enter dialogue. Sometimes Martine is welcoming, other times the responses have been cool. When I suggested that – as somebody with a modest public reputation, and a lot of political knowledge – I could join her on the late night BBC Papers slot, Martine was less than positive.  On July 24, at the end of a 10.30 review of the papers, I Tweeted Martine, complaining that the piece had been dull, and featured the BBC’s bias against Jeremy Corbyn. Martine replied, asking what could be done to enliven things. This led to a chain of messages, and banter, that included the two journalists providing the review, Ben Riley-Smith (Torygraph) and Joel Taylor (Metro, freebie paper at railway stations). There was also a guest appearance from some bloke, called Joseph, working at the BBC, whose main interest was arranging to meet Martine for coffee at the BBC canteen (has it improved since it was featured by George Orwell in Nineteen Eighty-Four?). I was pleasantly surprised that Martine Croxall began the second paper review with a mention of me by name, saying I had been in contact to request different stories in this 11.30 instalment compared to 10.30, and more “oomph” in the presentation. There appeared to be a (large?) element of sarcasm from Martine, but it was also nice to be recognised. Martine mentioned Tweets from other people who had responded to the earlier instalment, and this piece of interaction improved the latter review.  Subsequently Martine Tweeted a link to the papers review on the BBC Iplayer, and mentioned “Oomph”.

 

 

#OlympicFootball history

 

WCIF product_thumbnail

The women’s football began at the Rio Olympics yesterday, and Brazil beat China 3-0.

Today the men’s tournament gets underway, with Brazil playing South Africa.

Following on from a Blog post yesterday, here is a short account of football at the 1912 Olympics – when England were a dominant force.

Olympic Football 1912 (Sweden)

The Stockholm Olympics included a football tournament, with 11 entrants. The Sweden team departed at the first stage, losing 4-3 to the Netherlands. The England Amateur team, representing Great Britain again, beat Hungary 7-0 and Finland 4-0 to set up another meeting with Denmark in the Final. England beat the Danes 4-2, with two goals from Gordon Hoare, and one apiece from Harold Walden and Arthur Berry, to win Olympic gold for a second time. Vivian Woodward, who had been England captain in 1908, retained the role in 1912, while Berry was the only other player to feature for England in both Olympic Finals. In the Third Place Match, the Netherlands beat Finland 9-0, with Jan Vos scoring five times. A consolation tournament, for teams eliminated in the early stages of the main competition, saw Germany beat Russia 16-0, with Gottfried Fuchs notching 10 goals – to repeat the feat of Sophus Nielsen in 1908. Hungary won the consolation event, beating Austria 3-0 in the Final (July 5, Stockholm). This was the first competitive match between Austria and Hungary, who played each other 26 times between 1902 and 1914.

Final July 4, Stockholm  England 4 Denmark 2

Bronze Medal Match        Netherlands 9 Finland 0

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